2/7/13

Driving

Up until 3 or 4 years ago I didn't have a driver's license. For someone who's in her 30s it's kind of unusual not to have one. I grew up in San Francisco where there is a very good public transportation system and you never have to go far for work or school. I walked to my elementary, middle, and high schools because they were never more than 15 minutes away from where we lived. Then I got a bicycle in my early 20s and rode it everywhere. My whole world existed within the 7 square miles of the San Francisco city limit. There is absolutely no need to have a car in the city. But that all changed when Justin and I moved to the other side of the bay.

The first couple of years we lived in Oakland we still rode around on our bikes but got a membership to City CarShare for those occasional trips to other parts of the bay area. The Easy Bay is a lot more spread out and vast than the city and having a car makes life easier. The monthly cost of City CarShare was starting to add up once we started driving more and when Justin finally got a steady job and we had a bit of savings in the bank we decided to buy a car.

Long story short, I wanted an automatic because I've only practiced driving a few times on my parents' automatic car and didn't have a clue about driving manual transmissions. But because Justin insisted on a brand new car instead of a used one like we originally planned, we ended up buying a new manual transmission VW Rabbit with two doors to keep the cost down. It was the antithesis of what I wanted in a car. I had envisioned a used, four door, automatic car with practicality and low budget in mind. But I gave in for the sake of relationship harmony. I still regret not standing my ground on the car because I would've been driving a lot sooner had we not bought a car with stick shift.

Anyway, I got my license using a rented automatic car shortly after our car purchase with the intension of learning to drive stick shift which didn't happen as life got in the way. I've practiced driving our car in an empty parking lot a few times but the shifting and paying attention on the road at the same time was/is hard for a new driver like me. I was also super nervous about damaging our brand new car which made me even more hesitant to drive it. So I haven't done any real world driving at all in the almost 4 years since the car was purchased.

That all changed this morning. I usually walk Desmond to his daycare about 1/2 away. It was drizzling hard enough this morning that I had to decide how to get him there without getting him soaked in the rain. So I decided to drive and let me tell you, it's been quite awhile since I've even been behind the wheel. I had to sit in the driver's seat for a few minutes to remember which peddles were which and how to shift.

Luckily we live on a small street and there was hardly any traffic. We didn't have to go on any big roads with fast traffic. It was all neighborhood driving. I barely kept the car moving in first gear all the way to the daycare. There were only 2 stop signs and no traffic lights on the way. I was so nervous but I did it and am really glad I did. I know I have to slowly build up my confidence driving and getting used to the manual transmission. I know lots of people who drive manual and they all love it, so I should be able to as well and learn to love it.