I took Driver’s Ed in highschool. I can’t remember the teacher’s name, but he taught shop as well (I think it was shop, but it might have been math or welding or something else in which I had zero interest), and I found it pretty dry stuff. The best part about it was giggling with Colleen every time he mentioned the “exhilaration lane”. I had my 365, as it was called in those days. My older brother took my out driving a few times, on Golden Beach Road. Mum’s old Mini was tricky, plus it was a standard, plus my brother was one of the most anxious, nervous people on the planet. It didn’t go very well. I took a road test, but failed. To be fair, I did drive the car into a snowbank. So, yeah, there’s that.
In the fall of 1982, I moved to Toronto to go to York. As a student, I definitely couldn’t afford to run a car. We all took transit everywhere, or we walked. In 1986, I finished my degree, and in 1987, I got married. My husband drove, and we had a number of cool old beaters, including the 76 Buick Regal; it was red, with a white landau roof and white leather interior. You could have pitched a tent on the hood.
We moved to Peterborough in 1990, and had the babies in 1992 and 1994. That’s when it started to become apparent that I needed to learn to drive. It was around 1995 or early 1996 when I called up Young Drivers of Canada. They assured me that it was for drivers of all ages. Maybe so, but I was the only 32 year old in a room full of 10th graders. I remember bringing my older son in with me once, as he wanted to see where I went to school, and the kids oohing and aahing over him. He was just concerned with the magnetic demo cars on the whiteboard, and caused several rather remarkable driving scenarios.
I didn’t get my full license until after I separated in 1999. I failed the road test the first time, but once I finally passed, I never looked back. At first highway driving made me nervous, but soon enough I conquered the 401, freezing rain, and downtown Toronto. I felt like a real, responsible grownup, finally! I’m a fairly aggressive driver, but I’m all about the rules of the road, and I’ve never had an accident. I’ve never even had a speeding ticket (although I came damn close, but that’s a story for another day).
Now, of course, as some of you know, on the advice of a neurologist, I have had to give up some of my driving privileges temporarily until I get my sleep issues resolved. This has been a major pain, as I can only drive 15 – 20 minutes at a time, which basically limits me to driving within the city. I am adhering very strictly to this, as I have no wish to fall asleep at the wheel and kill myself, or anyone else. I work out of town 3 days a week, and I’ve had to arrange a rideshare. I’ve had to give up some aspects of my job, like visits to Her Majesty’s guests at Warkworth. I haven’t been able to go up to Dorset to see the leaves, or to Muskoka, or to Hamilton to see my brother and his family, or to Toronto to see my own children, or just to shop and visit. I haven’t been able to run down to Cobourg for an afternoon’s thrift shopping. I just saw a photo of my niece in her Hallowe’en costume, Marie Antoinette, and I hardly recognized her, she’s grown up so much.
It’s very, very frustrating. I know that driving is a privilege, and I completely acknowledge that having someone on the road who falls asleep at the wheel is not a good thing. But my wings are clipped, and I have to rely on other people. I’m not good at relying on other people, as I’ve always relied primarily on myself. It makes me feel guilty and awkward to have to ask anyone for anything, ever. It’s hard. Everyone is very kind, from my supervisor at work, to my new friend with whom I drive to Lindsay, but I am very, very tired of this.
Unfortunately, nothing will happen until the end of January at the earliest, when I go back to the doctor. So, I face the holidays coming up with no ability to travel, which really messes things up.
I might just hibernate.