Outside my office window, I have a nice view of the parking lots. They're empty today as it is Spring Break, but I noticed one lone van circling the lot. Over and over. I began to get concerned that a slow moving psycho was on the loose and that it wasn't safe to walk to my car. But then I noticed that the van was following the same pattern, over and over. Drive slowly. Stop at the line that says "Staff Parking." Park in a spot. Back out. Circle. Signal. Stop. Ah....someone learning to drive.
I was almost 18 when I got around to taking my driver's test. I took Driver's Ed during the summer, just before I turned 17. It was okay. No disasters (other than the teacher's off-key country singing as we drove), but I didn't really enjoy driving. So, my future car sat. It was old and red. And smelled like vinyl. I wasn't a fan of that old red car so it didn't really motivate me. I wasn't embarrassed enough at having my parents take me too and from school for that to be an incentive. My friend Dawn drove me to all the places I wanted to go, and the people that I baby-sat for always picked me up and brought me home. My dad, aka driving coach, and I butted heads when I was in the driver's seat and usually one of us cried. Okay, the crier was always me. At some point between the time I turned 16 and the time I got my license, the old red car disappeared. It was replaced by a 1986 Buick Century - white with soft burgundy interior. Probably not a real improvement, but by my standards it was. Once I graduated, it began to occur to me that I might need wheels in my new college town. No time left to mess around. I practiced - I guess, I don't really remember - and took my test. I think I bombed parallel parking, but I passed the test. And I stood in the un-airconditioned license office waiting on my picture. By the time it was my turn, my hair was frizzed into a halo around my head and my face was bright red. But, I had my license. I was mobile. Once I started driving, I didn't hate it as much as I thought. That Buick got me through most of college. My senior year it was replaced with a shiny new 1997 Mazda Protege that had 6 miles on it the first time I sat in the driver's seat. When my dad and I picked up my navy blue friend, he'd had them install a 6 disc CD changer as a surprise. I was in business! The Mazda and I spent 9 blissful years together. About a year ago, I was parked next to it in a parking lot. It was mine - I am sure because of the faded Margaritaville sticker in the window. It looked happy.
The van is still out there in the parking lot. Stop. Drive slowly. Signal. Turn. Park.