I missed the memo about driving.
When it comes to driving, I’m what you’d call a late bloomer. My parents weren’t thrilled with the idea of having teenage drivers in the house, so as a consequence they didn’t lend much support to the endeavor. The notion of getting a car of my own as a teen was pretty laughable and having access to the family car was pretty much a non-starter as well.
While most teens would have chafed at this limitation, I was actually cool with it. To me, driving seemed like an enormous responsibility. I was a morbid kid and for some reason I was preoccupied with the idea that if I got behind the wheel and had a horrible accident, I could kill someone. It’s kind of a weird irony that the very “maturity” that made me mindful of what a big deal driving was actually stunted my maturity as a driver and, and to an extent, as a young adult. Because I didn’t drive, I was a bit of social driftwood being tossed about at the mercy of those who could and did drive. In some instances, I missed out on things. In others, I was literally along for the ride when maybe I shouldn’t have been.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I had both the desire and a great opportunity to learn how to drive. My dear friend Elizabeth was a few years older and a whole lot wiser than I was, and she took on my delayed driver education as a personal crusade. She not only entrusted me with her seemingly indestructible Nissan Maxima, but also challenged me with a GMC Scout with questionable suspension. With Elizabeth’s careful and supportive instruction, I learned. I learned in parking lots, on city streets, and on busy Atlanta freeways. Like any inexperienced driver, I was nervous as hell, but my nerves were compounded a bit by the fact that I was late to this driving party and I was a little ashamed about that.
It was a few years later, once my new driver nerves were well behind me, that I saw Incubus perform their hit song “Drive” on “Mad TV”:
I had also missed the memo on Incubus, so I was just absolutely mesmerized by their sound and by the lyrics of the song. Driving is an obvious metaphor for self-determination; and the song makes the point beautifully, plus it’s got a great hook and some sweetly subtle hip-hop beats. I think it will always be one of my favorites.
Now, even in L.A. traffic, I love driving. I love the freedom and I love escaping into my own little encapsulated world of the car. And these days, I love singing with my son and stealing glimpses of him in the rear view mirror. I can’t wait to teach him to drive. Memo received.
© 2011 Jamie Walker Ball
I love Incubus! They were my absolute favorite band for years until I completely overdosed on them. I even almost got a tattoo of ‘Incubus.’ Thank God I got the “Don’t forever mark your favorite band’s name on your back” memo before it was too late.
Very nice writing, Jamie!
Glad you got the message on tattoos, though an Incubus tattoo might have been pretty cool. Thanks for reading!