i didn't drive until i was a 19. not officially or legally anyway.
i did what all my friends did: 14 years old, learners; 16 years old, driving lessons... but it halted there. my arrested driving development was due entirely in part to my VERY aggressive eastern european driving instructor. i tell you that he was eastern european only because it helps if you imagine an aggressive gymnastics coach yelling at me about my dismount while i white-knuckled down the freeway.
maybe driving lessons are meant to be scary when you're 15 but i was a huge baby and so i quit. it's not like i was going to have a car to drive anyway and all my friends in high school had cars so i stopped caring. driving seemed too scary for me. then i graduated and moved to europe and obviously i wasn't going to drive there... i imagined every european driver to be of similar mad (wo)man stripes as that first driving instructor.
long story short i came back from europe, started university, got frustrated with city transit and sucked it up and learned how to drive, at 19, like the fucking grown up i someday hope to be. and it was ok, i was ok at it and no one died as i learned to drive.
12 years later I'm a decent driver. confident and only appropriately aggressive. some might disagree and i suppose they have that right but in all seriousness i am a good driver. even my insurance company almost completely agrees.
not long after i acquired the skills of actual driving ability and the little plastic card that entitles me to drive, my little sister did the same thing. she was around the "appropriate" age to learn but never quite found the confidence to do it with gusto. instead i drove the car my dad lent both of us much more than she did. i say lent because he never outright gave it to us but he never asked for it back either. at some point it was just absorbed into a thing that was mostly mine. and when i moved to south it came with me... so basically, mine.
blah blah blah.
the fact of the matter is i don't actually care about cars. i don't have an intellectual understanding of horsepower beyond the speed and power of the engine (?) but metaphorically i love to imagine 200 horses propelling me forward across the prairie. i don't care about under-coating and detailing and all the matters of mechanics and body shops. i try not crash and i get oil changes when the sticker tells me too. i can't change a tire and i don't care to.
i don't care about cars but i love driving.
4 years ago i took my theoretically grown up self to a car dealership and leased a brand spankin' new car all by my lonesome. no co-signer and no big deal. last week i gave that car back. that little vestige of my first foray into grown-up-ness and took a second step in the same direction: the same car, same lease, but new and with more doors.
and as i drove away from that little silver car i felt a deep sense of loss and of nostalgia. anyone who knows me knows that i have a pretty deep nostalgia fetish and that i'm often struck, sometimes to my knees, by sentimentality.
69,107 km across this province. countless trip between the sprawling cities, gallons of coffee and fucking and tears. my car was the vessel for every human emotion: songs belted in joy and tears shed for rage and frustration and sadness and loss and grief. it bore the scars of my impatience and the revenge weather takes on us all. it lost hubcaps somewhere in the ether and took me everywhere i needed to go. i had 69,107 of complete freedom; of the potential to drive off into beautiful oblivion and fall madly in love with the province i inhabit.
those four wheels and joyful horses drove me home when i didn't know where home was; when i didn't know if north or south was right and couldn't figure how to be anywhere.
as long as i had a destination i had potential.
as long as i had a place to go there was hope.
4 years and 69,107 km. more hellos and goodbyes than a person can count.
but there i am, driving away in a new silver steed and the world is rich with potential. there are hundreds of thousands of possible interconnections for me to find: freeways and gravel stretches and transcontinental arteries. warmed by the pleasure of the past i am thrilled for the adventure of the future.
that, and blue tooth.