Driving: Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

Beck Tate, Journalist

Both my sister and brother are amazing drivers; however, neither obtained their license as soon as they were legally able. My sister, now 22 and off somewhere in Ireland if I’m not mistaken, didn’t get her license until she turned 20, yet had her permit from legal age (roughly 15 years of age according to Michigan laws) to the day she got her driver’s license. My brother, now 20 and attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, didn’t have his license or permit until he was about 18, simply because he saw no need to go through the trouble of learning how to drive when he had friends and family to do it for him – suppose he felt he had enough freedom as is. On top of that, it took my sister three tries to pass her driving test, and my brother one. This was a result of going to two different DMVs to take the test, but nevertheless, my sister’s years of experience on the road seemed to aid her scarcely (She managed to – graciously – find the light at the end of her metaphorical tunnel). As a result of both my siblings getting their license, they were able to take a road trip to Michigan (our home-state), and, impenitently, leave me behind.

Driving has become a very important part of my family. We moved to Danbury in the autumn of 2018, saying goodbye to the abundance of family and friends back home in Michigan. Getting behind the wheel and cruising down the highway for about 10 to 11 hours is the primary source of how we get our yearly physical connection. Though we may all have different personal opinions on driving: Take my mother for example, she’s not exactly fond of driving and would rather transport some other way, like by train. It’s useful, nevertheless, and a massive societal norm. So, I’d like to think that because of those reasons (family and society), I’ve become a little passionate – or obsessed, depending on one’s definition – with the idea and reality of driving.

I’m a sophomore, and am legally allowed to apply for a permit test in the early months of 2023 (if I still lived in Michigan I’d already have my permit by now, and would then be applying for my diver’s test in the early months of 2023, but I try not to let that make me bitter). It’s been a lot of build up to all of this, to me, at least. Driving has always kind of been something I’ve liked; family road trips, going out to eat, loud music, nothing fancy, but I was (am) no less enthralled with what some people could refer to as mundane. I believe people come to find driving boring because they do it so often; though humans thrive off of routine we have a habit of complaining about a lot of things that are unavoidable. Perhaps that’s the biggest challenge of driving for some, taking the same routes on the same days at the same time, it’s just too familiar. My biggest challenge, however, is remembering where each function of the vehicle is.

My most common mistake while learning to drive has been which pedal is the gas and which is the break. Yes, I know my left from my right, but that doesn’t stop me from confusing the two every time I get behind the wheel. Something that fascinates and simultaneously frustrates me about cars is that not every function is always in the same place. Like the windshield wipers for example, not the objects themselves, but the gear/lever that needs to be fiddled with in order for said objects to turn on.

I have no doubt that as time goes on things will become second nature – too familiar, if you will – but until then, I’m stuck in a semi-awkward, semi-comfortable atmosphere with (usually) my father, trying to cram his twenty-plus years of driving knowledge into my young adult brain.