Saturday, July 7, 2012

One Year Later... Driving Diary, Part 2

A little over a year ago, I got my instruction permit for the first time.

A little over a month ago, I got my instruction permit for the second time.

A little over a day ago, I went on the freeway for the first time!

Don't worry - I'll elaborate on that last point! ;)

My parents were kind enough to pay for and help me set up driving lessons with Eureka Driving School - three 2-hour sessions. My first lesson this past Thursday was quite surreal, let me tell you!

As soon as I got there, my instructor (a sweet and feisty older woman) had me sit behind the wheel of the car. After I explained that I had only driven in a parking lot (and that was last summer), she agreed to drive me to a residential area and have me start there instead. Probably the safest option, I think!

For about an hour she taught me the ins and outs of stopping and making turns and pulling up to a curb. And then she asked me if I was ready to drive in town.

With traffic?

Going more than 20 mph?

Ummm... I didn't think I was ready. I mean, a lot could happen driving downtown, even in a small-ish place like Eureka! (Did my instructor really value her life??)

And then my instructor said, "Well, we could just spend the next hour driving in this residential area." (Yes, I think there was a bit of sarcasm there.)

Oh, OK, if you put it that way!

"You can do it," she told me.

And you know what? She was right! (Although, I'm glad she was sitting next to me with her own brake and the ability to reach over and help me steer when necessary!)

I drove through town for a little while, turning when she told me to turn and trying to follow her instructions. (Although there was one STOP sign I didn't completely stop at... Oops!) She helped me pull over when the ambulance drove through town and even showed me how to fill up a gas tank.

After getting gas, I drove out of town for a ways, and then she told me I should practice going on and off the freeway. At that point, I had to go fast, or I was toast! Sixty-five mph - did I really drive that fast?? Yep, and 30 mph seemed much less scary after that, LOL!

I think I was a bit more confident driving us back to the driving school, filled with stories to tell my family and friends. Maybe some day I'll look back at this and laugh about how huge a deal this learning-to-drive thing was to me, but I hope I'll always maintain a sense of healthy caution and respect for driving. =)

If it had been up to me, I might have spent the whole lesson in that residential area, never quite sure if I was really ready to drive in town. I needed that gentle push - that reminder that sometimes you just need to jump in and do it.

In this crazy adventure called "life," may God give us wisdom to know the times when we really do need more time in preparation and practice. But may He also give us the grace to heed those gentle pushes when we need to, and to plow ahead with confidence on the path He has prepared for us.

P.S. I have to add that since I wrote this post, I went out driving again with my mom...and let's just say that things didn't go as well as I had hoped. Don't worry - nobody got hurt, and I didn't crash or anything! But I had a difficult time with some turns and just driving smoothly. The worst part was trying to turn at the top of the hill to get back to our house... I knew there was a jogger coming up the hill, and my mom was telling me to look to the right before I turned left (which I wasn't doing), and I wasn't turning like I should... We both ended up panicking. (Thank goodness we didn't go through our neighbor's fence!) All that panicking led to tears after I got out of the car... Lots and lots of tears as I felt my self-confidence slowly draining away. 

It's a strange place to finish a post, but as this is a "driving diary" post, I have to tell it like it is. And right now learning to drive is slow process - a little bit forward in "drive," and a lot backward in "reverse." But after a talk with my grandma that helped me put some things in perspective, I'm feeling a lot better, in any case. She reminded me that no one is born learning how to drive, and everyone has to start somewhere. 

So as they say on Meet the Robinsons, I have to remember to "keep moving forward!"

16 comments:

Lotti said...

Good for you .... sounds like whilst things didn't go 100% perfect when you went out with your mum, at least you are getting out there and having a go. Here in Australia we are big on having a go. Every time you drive it will get easier and easier and it's the same with any new thing that we try. I want my daughter to get her licence, but it is slow going for us. She has to drive an automatic car and I only have a manual. I do want her to learn to drive a manual though as I think that then she can drive my car on her own when she has her licence. My daughter has Aspergers and these things are a huge challenge for her. I know she can do it, but she just needs to get out and have a go. Good luck with your driving lessons and I hope that you are able to get your licence event free. Once you do you will realise the new found freedom that you have. GOOD LUCK!!

Vince said...

Hi Amber:

This reads like my first flying lesson. I know just how you felt. I could feel it all again as I read your words.

My first flying lesson was pretty scary. The instructor was a fearless Army Viet Nam veteran helicopter pilot. The first thing he said was, “You’re not a bird. All your natural instincts will probably get you killed. If you don’t do exactly what I tell you, you will crash and burn. You got that?”

I think I would have rather had your nice older lady instructor.

I think you’d make a very sympathetic heroine. Keep the reports coming in.

Vince

Julie said...

Awww Amber you can do this! It will get easier as you practice. I'll be praying for you!! My daughter didn't drive until she was 18. She is 20 now and when we are going someplace together insists that I drive. I think mom's can intimidate a bit :)You will get more comfortable driving and then your mom will be able to relax more when you are driving together. Keep at it and pretty soon you'll be a pro!

Bluerose said...

Awwww....Bless your heart! It WILL get easier!(Remember this is coming from someone who failed her driver's test 3 times and made her driving instructor scream in terror...literally). :)

I'm proud of you for trying, despite how hard it is. Driving will be a breeze before you know it. I'm praying for you.

Amber S. said...

Lotti,

Thank you so much for the encouragement! That's a great attitude - just having a go - something I think I need to have a bit more of. :)

Wishing all the best for your daughter as she learns to drive, as well!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Vince,

Thank you so much for the comment! I appreciate knowing I'm not the only one to have had these feelings - although from the sounds of it, yours were definitely merited! I asked my dad about his experiences learning to fly, and he said it's scary but super exhilarating soloing for the first time - knowing that it's completely up to you whether you make it back (safely) to the ground again. I imagine you both have a lot of great stories. :)

I'm glad that you enjoyed this post! :) I'm hoping to keep everyone updated on how it's going! I had some great practice time with my dad yesterday, and I have another lesson with the driving school tomorrow, so I'm sure another post will be coming soon!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Julie,

I really, really appreciate your understanding - and your prayers!! My mom is so sweet, and she's been really patient with me. :) But I know that she has a hard time with ANYONE else driving, so I imagine it must be super hard riding along with someone who has very little experience! I think I'll be like your daughter in letting my mom drive whenever we're going someplace together. ;) But I think that experience the other day was good, in that no one got hurt and it (hopefully!) embedded in my mind the importance of looking both ways and all that. :)

Thank you again for your kind words!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Bluerose,

Reading all these comments has been so comforting to me - it really does help to know that I'm not the only one who's had a bumpy start learning how to drive!

I'm so grateful for your friendship, your support, and your prayers!! :) Thank you for being there for me and for reminding me that I'm not alone in all this!

~Amber

Amanda Stanley said...

Oh Amber, I loved hearing about your driving adventures! Praising the Lord that even when we make mistakes His hand is still our hedge of protection. Every mistake is a learning experience and better it happen with your mom or instructor in the car than learning the lesson when you're alone.

Gosh, I made SO MANY mistakes when I first started driving! I have the type of personality that needs to be great at whatever they do or they're just too discouraged to continue doing it, so all my initial driving mistakes were EXTREMELY hard to overcome.

I remember one time I was taking a left turn and had a green light, so I ASSUMED I could just turn, thinking the oncoming traffic was gonna stop. Well, I only have the right-of-way (especially when taking a left) when I have a green ARROW. Thought my poor mommy was gonna expire on me right there! Safe to say I've never made that mistake again - lesson learned, see? ;)

Gosh, I can't count how many times I came to a screeching halt at a red light, shaving many years off the lives of both my mom and my cousin (who is 3 years younger than me yet got her licence before me - talk about humbling!). When we'd get in the car I'd say, "Make sure you're repented and ready to meet Jesus because today could very well be the day!" :) I have since learned timing and if I'll have enough time to make it before it turns red. Even the timing of turning before the oncoming car will pass. Like my cousin said to me, "Once you hesitate you've missed your opportunity. Just wait for them to pass and time it all over again." You learn to judge how fast a car is going and if you have enough time to make the turn.

I remember one time in particular, that became a turning point for me, was when, after I made some mistake, I pulled over in a Walmart parking lot and bawled my eyes out, swearing I would never get behind a wheel again. My mom very calmly talked with me (which if you know 100% Italian mothers you know their is NOTHING calm about them, especially when dealing with their kids lol!) and prayed with me and convinced me otherwise. So after my pity-party/temper-tantrum, by the grace of God, I pulled myself together and only through Him was able to continue on. Today I think I'm a pretty good driver, if I do say so myself! ;) It got easier with practice just like mom said it would and I gained more confidence each time I got behind the wheel. A key to having peace was something my parents said is very important to do - PRAY before you even leave the driveway. When I did that I truly felt the Lord with me. You probably already do so but it's just a suggestion I found brings great peace. And, like I said, God knows how to drive and he will teach you all you have to know! ;)

Praying for you, dear Amber! I know you're going to be just fine and a pro soon enough! My mom and cousin were right when they told me as soon as you get the hang of it and you're confident behind the wheel you're gonna kick yourself for not getting your licence sooner! Nothing to be afraid of, my friend, especially since Jesus is riding shotgun! :)

Blessings,
Amanda

Michelle said...

Oh boy! The fun of learning to drive! Let me just say, I'm feeling very old right about now, since I've been driving for about 24 years, lol. ;-)

You'll get the hang of it in no time, Amber! Practice, practice, practice (and lots of patience!). : )

And hopefully you'll be better at parallel parking than I am . . . I just completely avoid it all together, lol. ;-)

Amber S. said...

Oh, Amanda!!

Dear friend, you know I'm really, really thankful for your friendship, right?? :) Thank you for your understanding and for being willing to share your early driving experiences with me!

I totally know what you mean about your personality - I'm the same way! I remember my first year of college, there was this one time when I had procrastinated WAY too long on an assignment, and I was lying on my bed tossing the cords for the window blinds against the wall angrily, telling a friend that I was going to fail and end up never making it through college, etc., etc. I did NOT want to do the assignment, LOL! And if I couldn't do well on that assignment, well, of course I wasn't going to do well on anything! While I was super emotional then, I find it kind of funny, looking back on it with my college diploma hanging on my wall... ;)

Anyway, I love what you said to your mom and cousin: "Make sure you're repented and ready to meet Jesus because today could very well be the day!" :) Hahaha, I'm sure that wouldn't comfort my mom at all, but that's totally something I could say to anyone riding with me right now! ;)

Thank you again for your advice - about keeping at it, praying before I go out, and remembering that Jesus is right there with me when I drive. :) And thank you for that letter you sent me, as well!! God bless you and your family!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

Well, I have waited quite a while to attempt this! ;) Thank you for the support!

And I haven't tried parallel parking yet... I guess my instructor will go over that during our final lesson?? We'll see how it goes! ;)

~Amber

Amanda Stanley said...

Amber, I am so thankful for YOUR friendship!! You are such a blessing and it blesses me to be able to help you in anyway I can. Driving was such a big deal for me to learn because there were so many fears tied up in it for me. But Christ was so faithful and with me every step (or mile!) of the way :)

I feel like, through your driving posts, God is bringing a fresh remembrance of His goodness to me during that time of learning. Sometimes you forget all that the Lord has done. Thank you for posting about your driving experiences as it's caused me to remember and see through older eyes all God has done in an area I thought I'd never overcome. Till this day, every so often, I'll say, "I can't believe I'm driving!" =D

Our God is ever the good and loving Father who wants to teach His children all they need to know and help them overcome their fears. Thank you again for reminding me of this :) You'll soon have your very own testimony of His goodness and faithfulness to you in this area - it's already begun!!

Continued prayers are with you, dear friend :)

Blessings,
Amanda

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

Oh, I totally understand about the fears tied in with driving! It's part of the reason I've waited so long to learn - it always made me nervous thinking about how dangerous driving can be and how easy it can be to accidentally hurt others or yourself... But God has definitely been so good to me and helped me as I've taken this first step in learning to drive. :)

I'm so blessed that these posts have blessed you, my friend! And I'm humbled by this reminder that God is the One who works in people's lives. Even when I post about things that can seem trivial or personal or too unpolished, nothing is too small or weak for Him to use - because He is God, and it is for His glory! :)

Thank you so much for your comments and prayers!!

~Amber

Marvis Carswell said...

Confidence is what keeps you moving! You should trust your instructor. She knows what she’s doing and she was right about you being ready to drive downtown! Driving lessons are also about building trust and self confidence. Always drive safely!

-Marvis Carswell

Amber S. said...

Marvis,

Several months and more practice later, I'm starting to really gain that confidence. :) My instructor was great, and you're right! I needed to trust her and my family, because I was starting in a place of complete inexperience, and they knew what they were talking about. :) Now it's interesting to look back and see how far I've come thanks to them!

And yes, while confidence is key, staying cautious and alert (and safe!) is crucial. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

~Amber