CONFESSIONS: I’m Terrified of Driving

We’re coming clean and sharing all our dirty little secrets. Confessions is a biweekly essay column about the things we need to get off our chests. To contribute, email mlts.magazine@gmail.com.

Yup, I’m happier in the passenger’s seat.

I don’t know how to drive. I’ve been putting it off since I was sixteen.

That’s how old I was when my dad gave me my first driving lesson. We were in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere, right near the Pennsylvania-New York border. It was nighttime — after the falling of the sun from the sky. And I sat behind the wheel of my parents’ massive Buick Rainier.

Dad told me to take the SUV out of park and I coasted in neutral for a little before he told me to hit the gas. The vehicle bucked forward. I was headed for a wall when Dad yelled at me. I pulled the gear shift into park before putting my foot on the brake.

Yelling.

That’s what I heard. I can’t remember the words but I can still feel how they made me feel. I felt like I was five years old again and I’d just admitted to duping a neighbor out of some change under the guise of a donation to our Girl Scouts troop when all my sister and I wanted was some candy.

Since then, every thought of getting behind the wheel and every “You should learn to drive” comment has made my stomach turn over, a flash of panic cut through my body.

I can’t actually tell you what makes me sick to think of actually driving. Maybe it’s that I don’t believe I can control a 2,000-lb. automobile. Or that I don’t want to have another responsibility. Or that I don’t have the ability to handle the added financial burden that is owning a car.

And yet, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Well, just because she learns to drive doesn’t mean she needs to own a car.”

Don’t say it out loud. Don’t tell me that. Let me have my excuses. Eventually I’ll learn. Just not today. (Or tomorrow.)

For now, I’m only willing to admit that I’m terrified of driving. Baby steps, people.

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