The Golden Ticket

Yesterday may not have not ended up being so special, but today was.

Today I passed my road test.

I know that for a lot of people, that’s such a minuscule thing to focus on. A lot of people don’t care about that kind of thing, but I do. I’ve went through a journey to get this license.

When I was about eighteen, I helped my dad with a task. He wanted me to drive his car while he drove another a short ride up the block. And I started to, but  then I turned down the wrong block than one my dad directed me to. This led me to a fork in the road, which didn’t really phase me, at first.

And as I turned, I heard someone honk.

I looked in my rear-view mirror, and saw someone there, but decided to keep going. I didn’t hit anyone, nobody hit me, I didn’t do anything wrong as far as I knew.

But the guy continued to follow me.

I pulled up to a stop sign, and the guy pulled over to the side, and came up to my open window.

“You know you almost hit me, right? You could have killed me and my girlfriend!” He screamed at me. I was in a state of shock; I was frozen in fear. I didn’t think that I did anything wrong, but I must have, if I was getting yelled at by a grown man. The guy kept on going on for like five minutes before telling me to just go home.

I listened. I went right back home, and told my dad about it, before retreating to my bedroom and crying my eyes out. That guy scared the hell out of me.

And because of that guy, I didn’t drive for three years after that. THREE YEARS. Just the idea of being behind the wheel scared me; I wasn’t even going to try to drive.

But as time went on, I grew anxious and tired. Anxious about everyone else being able to do something that I couldn’t, and tired that I had to rely on others to drive me around. Let’s just say that I’ve paid for a lot of gas that’s gone into my sister, Brianna’s, car.

I was lucky enough to work with my Aunt Roxanne, so I had her to drive me to work most days; but on those that she took off or had orientation (which took place in another location), I had to make sure I could have someone else drive me.

Do you know how annoying that is? To have to always make sure that you have a ride, because you can’t drive yourself anywhere? Well, if not, it’s really obnoxious. Trust me when I say that you would rather pay all the gas in the world to drive your own car than rely on others to drive you around.

For my 22nd birthday, my dad and Aunt Roxanne got me a conjoined gift for driving lessons. (Turns out that when you need other people to take you places, you’re not the only annoyed person in the situation.) So that’s when I started driving again, the Monday afterwards. And then, for almost every week during the following summer, I had lessons after work on Mondays.

And then my dad and Aunt Roxanne couldn’t afford to buy more lessons, so I did. I took on the role of paying for my sessions, because I knew that I wasn’t ready. I felt like I needed more lessons, so I paid for them. That’s the way life goes; I couldn’t continue to hope that other people would pay for me.

So I continued through September, and then I stopped. I could barely keep up with paying for these lessons myself, so I had to stop them. I actually didn’t drive much, except for when my dad needed me to drop my brother and sister off at my mom’s house, or pick my sister up from the high school. That was really it, but I felt like I had enough experience to make the rides without hurting anybody.

Which I seemed to, because we’re all here and unscathed, including my dad’s truck—which I still can’t seem to parallel park in, by the way. That thing is just too big for me.

But anyway, my dad kept pushing me to sign up for my road test. But I didn’t feel comfortable or ready enough, so I kept holding it off. He had been telling me to sign up for months, probably since August.

I waited until January to sign up, and I still wasn’t one hundred percent sure of myself.

When I was in the process of signing up, I looked at my nearest choices: a Wednesday (February 7), Thursday (February 8), and Friday (February 9). I liked the idea of a three day weekend, so I signed up for today, the ninth, at 10:00am. I wanted it done and over with, no matter how ready I felt. I just wanted it done.

The second I signed up, I was proud. I told my dad immediately.

Then I let it sink in, and I felt dread and anxiety. I was not ready.

At least, I didn’t feel ready.

So my dad let me drive a lot more often, especially in the last couple of weeks. He would pick me up after work, and let me drive home. I brought Caitlyn and Heinrich home every night they were over. He let me drive wherever he wanted or needed to go.

I still wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but I kept my head up. I kept a positive attitude.

You can do this, I’d tell myself. You will pass this damn test.

And I felt super confident about it all week, no matter how much tension built up inside me. I felt that I could do this, even if my usual driving instructor, Patricia, wasn’t going to make it to bring me. Something told me that I was going to pass.

To go the extra mile, this past Wednesday, I went to church with my Mom. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a church person, I’m not religious, I don’t talk to God or Jesus or whoever. But we were going anyway, with positive hopes for my uncle’s health, so I thought, why not? Why not ask for someone to watch over me for my test, too?

So I did.

But like I said, I don’t talk to Jesus in church. I talk to Nan. I’d rather have a one-way conversation with someone I’ve trusted my entire life than a person that I’m not even sure exists. I had my personal conversation with her, asked her to keep an eye over my Uncle Sean in case if she wasn’t already, and to watch out for me this morning.

And this morning, when I woke up at 7:15am, I woke up in serenity. I felt calm, and I felt good. Which is weird for me, since:

  1. I am naturally a very anxious person, and
  2. Me, anytime before noon, isn’t okay.

I got ready, took a shower, did my usual morning routine. I actually had breakfast, which is unlike me, but I thought that it couldn’t hurt (I couldn’t finish, and had to give my other Eggo waffle to the dogs). I brushed my teeth, and planned on doing a quick meditation session before this lady I’ve never met before was going to show up to pick me up.

But she arrived ten minutes earlier than expected; I was not able to get in my mediation session. This did stress me out for a good minute or two, but I calmed myself. I had to remind myself that everything was going to work out the way that it’s meant to.

I hopped in the passenger’s side, and we headed towards the Patchogue site. She drove to some side roads, and I got to practice some. I parallel parked about seven or eight times.

And then we headed to the actual site.

But when we showed up, nobody was moving. It was almost an hour after we got on line when some man got out of the car and came up to my pseudo-Patricia, Janet, to ask about what was going on. Turned out that he went through the whole line of cars, and asked them what time was their appointment.

None of the administrators had shown up.

There were kids on this line, at 10:30am, that were supposed to have their test at 8:00am.

Janet called up the driving school she worked for, Suffolk Driving School, to see if they knew what was up. Nothing. The guy behind us, that worked at Fitzgerald, also called his boss, to find out that two administrators were on their way. Apparently nobody was ever notified to go to the Patchogue site.

Once the two ladies showed up, the line began to move. Quickly. It was only about 11:00am when I finally got to the front of the line, and one of the instructors got into the car with me.

She told me to make a left, which brought me to a stop light. Okay.

From there, she directed me to make another left, which brought me to a four-way intersection with two stop signs.

“Make a right.”

I made one into a dead end. “Pull over up here, three-point turn.”

Okay.

I did that perfectly fine, and drove through the intersection.

“Parallel park behind that white car.”

I followed through pretty quickly, and before I could even put the car in park, she directed me to get out and make a left at the stop sign. I followed suit, and was already back at the site.

“Pull in here.”

That was it.

That was my whole test.

This whole thing that I worried over, and repeated self-affirming mantras over, was just two minutes long.

“Your official license will come in the mail in about two weeks,” she informs me after I put the car in park. “Congratulations, have a nice day.”

She gave me my permit back, along with a yellow sheet of paper, and let herself out of the car. It felt like my brain gave out one huge sigh of relief, followed by one huge  mental question mark. That was it? 

I was so relieved, and so proud, yet so confused. I did not expect it to be that short. I got out of the driver’s seat, and told an equally confused psuedo-Patricia the good news.

“I passed!” I told her, and she immediately opened her arms for a hug. This woman, who I had never met up until a couple of hours before, was happy for me. I went in for that quick hug, and proceeded to get back in the car, on the passenger’s side.

I immediately tried to call my dad (and failed), so I texted my list of people that I knew I had to text the news to. And then my dad called me back, immediately prompting for the results. I told him, and he sounded genuinely excited for me, proud of me. It’s not very often that I get that kind of attention, so I mentally reveled in it.

I considered today a great day before noon even came. Can you believe that?

I was so proud, so happy, so relieved, that I felt like I needed to share my news with everyone possible. And the most efficient (and, honestly, the most annoying) way I knew to do that was to post about it on Facebook. I didn’t care that I did this thing that I should have years ago—that sense of pride that I had in myself overcame all senses of worrying about getting judged. I just didn’t care; I wanted to scream it on the rooftops.

It felt like such a huge victory. I held myself back from doing this thing, that seemed to come so naturally to others, out of fear for so long. I had finally gotten over myself to take the damn test, and I passed. I know this doesn’t seem like much to most others, but it just felt so good for me. I had been trying this whole positivity thing and it actually worked. I had been working on this driving thing for almost a year now, and it paid off. I don’t care if I’m four years late; it was worth the wait.

I feel like how Charlie did when he won the last golden ticket.

 

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