I did it. Finally. After almost 10 years of putting it off, I have officially run out of excuses; I have learnt to drive. Which, in all honesty, its pretty terrifying although unbelievably freeing.
There’s a list of reasons as to why it has taken me this long to get behind the wheel of a car. I couldn’t afford to pay for lessons. While most people learn to drive the moment they turn 17 and with the assistance of their parents bank accounts, there were more important things that the family income needed to go towards in my home. It just wasn’t a piority or a nessesity that I learned to drive. I’ve never needed to learn to drive. I have been fortunate enough to always live on a bus route and worked my life around public transport. After all, I haven’t known life any other way.
So, why have I changed my mind? After all, learning to drive is expensive, damages the enviroment and dangerous. I’ve treated countless people who have needed life saving surgery following car accidents. Well, in all honesty, the reason is Clove. I like to travel (What millennial doesn’t?) and last year, I have left England 4 times. That is 4 tips to a cattery, on a bus, with a very unhappy cat. It isn’t practical and it’s embarrassing however she did provide entertainment for plenty of elderly passengers who would coo over her.
There is also another reason hanging over my head: relocation. I now have a fully furnished house as well as a hyperactive furball and deep in my heart, I know I don’t want to be in Norfolk in five years time. Being able to drive will give me the freedom to explore other locations, have the ability to drive abroad and live in more rural locations, away from a city centre and all the hustle and bustle that come with it.
Back in July I booked my first lesson. It was nerve-racking and I barely drove faster than 20mph, circling the winding streets that surrounded my neighbourhood. My insctructor, who has a rather unconventional method of teaching and has trouble keeping his hands off the steering wheel while I’m in the drivers seat, told me on the very first lesson that the older a learner happens to be, the harder and longer it takes them to learn to drive. However only a meter of weeks later I would pass my theory test and be in the processes of booking my practical. I was getting the hang of it and whenever I got in front of that wheel, I felt alive, free. How had it taken me so long to see the fun and value of being able to drive? My lessons would take me further and further afield to villages I’d never heard of and driving for 2 hours felt like a breeze.
That’s not to say I didn’t make mistakes. Right up until my practical driving test only a few weeks ago, checking my left hand mirror required constant prompting from my instructor. I believe the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ perfectly explains my constant ignoring of that mirror. I would also forget to go back down to first gear once I had stopped. A pretty important thing when you live in a country cluttered with roundabouts.
Learning to drive isn’t easy and I was completely ignorant to how much multitasking is involved. A fact about me; I suck at multitasking. I am a poor excuse of a woman with a very short attention span. Learning to move my feet in different times and pressures on the petals took me a solid 4 months to really master. And when turning right in a roundabout, having to change lane, go to second gear, indicate, check my mirrors and stay with in the speed limit all within a matter of seconds was pressure I didn’t need. That’s not including watching out for cars in front, pedestrian and the odd sneaky cyclist that would try to overtake you in the right hand side. The world is just one big hazard.
One of the good (or potentially bad depending on how you look at it) things about learning to drive is that you’ll suddenly pick up on other peoples driving. If I’m getting a lift from someone, I’ll notice them cut lanes without indicating or going a little bit faster than they should. They (the experienced drivers of the world) say ‘you only learn to drive after you’ve past your test’ and by ‘learning to drive’ I’m guessing they mean ‘pick up bad habits’.
I suppose only time will tell. Now that I have passed, I want to just jump in a car and go somewhere, perhaps by the coast, watch the sea and read a book. I’ll be able to chess places that buses can’t go and won’t be limited by bus timetables. The world just got a whole lot bigger and I’m going to explore every inch of it.
This is part 1/3 mini series about learning to drive as an ‘older’ student. Keep an eye out for part 2: The Test.