October 30, 2014
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Buckle your seat belt. Breathe. Turn the car on. Breathe. Release the parking brake. Breathe. Hold down the brake pedal and put the car in drive. Breathe. Slowly release the brake pedal. Breathe. Press the accelerator. Take a deep breath and relax. You have done this a million times before with someone sitting next to you. It is time to do this on your own. Oh my gosh! I am driving.
I remember the first time I drove alone like it was yesterday. Well, that could be because it only happened a few months ago, but I might also recall the drive so vividly because of its dreadfulness for which I blame the mail delivery people of Woodland Hills.
The ride started out fine. I did everything correctly and before I knew it, I was an independent woman driving herself around town like it was no big deal. I decided that my first solo mission on the road should be short, simple and gratifying, so I decided to drive a couple miles to the Starbucks in the El Camino Shopping Center. I was driving very well if I do say so myself. But, at the border of Calabasas and Woodland Hills, I made a small error that largely affected the success of my journey. When I turned left onto Mulholland Dr. and went over the little hill on the way to the shopping center, I went into the leftmost lane. My error was a minor mistake. Easy to fix, right? Wrong. I immediately turned on my right blinker and attempted to merge into the right lane, but my procession was stopped by a mail truck. This truck stuck to my side, blocking me from moving into the right lane until we had gone through the intersection passed the shopping center. I had never driven in that area and quickly became lost and anxious. My anxiety was evident in my driving skills as I pulled over the first chance I had, only to hit the curb. I proceeded to angrily punch my address into the navigation system in my car. On my trek home I considered stopping by Starbucks, but decided to cut my losses and return home with as few emotional and physical scars as possible.
Now, whenever I drive on my own I pay very close attention to the most minor details, and though my first solo ride was an experience that I never wish to repeat, I truly believe I am a better driver for it. Don’t tell the mailmen, though.