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After a short hiatus from driving, I returned to the mean streets of McLean, Va. last week. Once again, our teacher was Jason. Just so you know, Jason is a very determined guy. He’s so determined that when his vegetable garden failed to thrive, he simply portioned off another area of his backyard and plunged fake vegetables into the ground. With persistence like that, he’s the perfect teacher for Sadie and me.
Our mission was parking, parallel and otherwise. It was by far our most cerebral lesson so far. “Visualization is everything,” Jason said as he told us to picture two garbage cans as parked cars. We took turns sliding into the space.
Sadie drove fluidly but skimmed the trash can more than once. I skirted the trash can, but my movements were too jerky. After the lesson, I returned home exhausted. There’s a reason people learn to do this in their teens. It takes serious energy and I, a wizened 26-year-old, simply don’t have it.
Not that I’m giving up, of course. I know this is important. In fact, I think this whole process could be revealing.
In her new book, Learning to Drive, 52-year-old Nation columnist Katha Pollitt dissects her attempts to master the road. Observation is her Achilles heel, she says, because her mind never ceases to wander. A red light prompts a meditation on modernity—-and that leads swiftly to ruminations about a recent breakup.
I have a similar problem. I think too much. I think about the poetry of the sentence “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” and question the logic of pedal placement. Before long, I find myself confused, lost in a web of my own making.
I’m working on it, though, and I hope driving will make me more focused, competent. Then again, if it simply gets me from Point A to Point B, I’ll be happy.
Driving Lesson 4
Weather Conditions: Sunny
Lessons Learned: Driving takes imagination, but not too much.