My heart’s pounding and my hands shake a little, but as I open the door to the car my face dictates nothing but absolute confidence. I kiss my mom on the cheek, shout out I’ll be home for dinner, and slide into the driver’s seat. After getting my license just yesterday, the first trip out on my own fills me with an unexplainable sensation of bliss and terror.
As I pass the first stop sign successfully, I take a deep sigh and ease into the new feeling of independence, of being alone behind the wheel. Part of me is scared to death, and frankly how could I not be?
It’s been almost a year and a half of classes, pamphlets, and other drivers detailing nothing but the risks and dangers of taking my life and possibly another’s onto a busy highway. And yet, I feel like I almost shoulder too much responsibility and caution in my driving.
As my mom has told me since the topic first came up, a driver is essentially taking a ton of steel and blasting it forward at around 60 miles an hour. Yes, I would someday control that blazing chunk of metal, and control what happens to others, as well as I drive along the streets. There absolutely were times that scared the living day lights out of me: three lane roundabouts, pulling out of the school parking lot not having seen the car coming straight at me on the frontage road, learning that a yellow means slow down, not speed up and run the red light, and oh yes, look out for that fire hydrant that kind of blended in with the parking lot on that one snowy evening. Oops.
Alright, I can’t blame my parents and others for being afraid of letting me out on the road alone, but at the same time I know all the laws and have heard all the warnings. A never ending bombardment of statistics and horror stories won’t make me drive any safer. However, they will let me know you are concerned for me, and at this point I can hardly let myself out on the roads after encountering so many reasons why a teenager and a car is a dangerous combination. I admit it is a contradiction I often feel; wanting to be capable of going places on my own and not waiting around for an adult to take me places, while also understanding all too well how much responsibility I have when I’m in the car.
At this point, I can hardly comprehend how it’s possible to be the kind of driver adults want of me: both cautious and safe sometimes, while aggressive and commanding in other situations. My mom in fact did shed a tear before I pulled out of the driveway, and she even commented, “I have to let you go sometime.” So I went. It’s not easy though, as they try to grasp the idea of releasing their little girl unto the world of road rage and street construction, I try to handle the fact that I am now in the world of road rage and street construction. Even if I seem ready to drive away, these realities scare me too.
But the time has come, and as I signal to get on the highway and careen around Dowd Junction, I am an officially licensed driver. Keep off the sidewalks.
Bianca Gordon is a junior at Vail Mountain School. She can be reached by posting a comment to vailtrail.com.
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