4 October 2017
A Long Road to Freedom
As I sat in the ditch, fist balled, frustrated, heart beating what felt like a million miles per hour, all I could think was “how much will it cost me to ride the bus for the rest of my life?” The freedom and independence I thought I would feel in this moment was nonexistent, and all I wanted to do was get home and go to my room. Driving was supposed to be a rite of passage; it was supposed to be like the movies or TV shows, where the teenager learned in 30 minutes and passed the driving test with flying colors. That was a fantasy. The reality was driving was frustrating, for me and my mother, who was sitting in the ditch along side of me. Driving was dangerous, and driving was something I vowed to never do again.
For months I studied the driving book. I watched the videos in Driver’s Ed class, took copious notes, and asked all the annoying questions. Why? Because I wanted to drive, and I didn’t want a 45 question test to stand in between me and my goal. To not have to ask for a ride ever again, to not have to factor a 45 minute bus ride into my curfew, to be an adult (well adult like), these are the goals that drove me to study extra hard. I can still hear my Driver’s Ed teacher’s deep and raspy voice giving his constant warning in my head while I’m on the freeway, even now; “Don’t drive too fast, don’t drive too close, and for God’s sake keep your eyes on the road.”
The day of the written test finally came and I was sick. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I tossed and turned in a panic. “If I fail, I’ll have to wait another 4 months to retake the exam, and then I won’t be driving by 16th birthday” was the agonizing worry that consumed me that night. My alarm clock went off at 7:30 am on a Saturday. I jumped up, and got in the shower, got dressed and waited on my mother to get ready. She asked me if I wanted something to eat. Who could eat with their whole teenage life on the line? I couldn’t, so I declined my mom’s offer of sticky buns, bacon and eggs. We drove to the Department of Public Safety, and line was insanely long. My hand was shaking as I completed the required forms, and I listened to my first generation IPod as I waited for my number to be called.
It felt like a lifetime, but in reality it might have been a two hour wait. When the agent called my number, my heart raced, and walked to the window. “Written test?” she asked. I nodded my head, and she directed me to take the eye exam. Of course the eye exam was the easy part. I took my time on the written exam, reading and rereading every question. My results were almost perfect. I only missed one. The agent at the window signed my learners permit and gave me the rules. “You must have licensed driver over the age of 18 with you when you drive. You can’t drive at night. You must have...