I'd learned how to drive a manual years ago. I don't remember who taught me. I actually don't remember learning. But I did remember that I had learned-at some point. I'd had to drive my sister's car back and forth to college for a semester and it was a manual transmission. So I knew I knew how to do it. Still, I was a little nervous. It'd been twenty years since I'd actually driven one.
We test drove the cars. Both manual (my husband test drove that one because I didn't trust my skills with a stick) and an automatic. And I could tell by the gleam in his eye that he loved the car. The automatic was okay. But we didn't love it. And, as crazy as I know this will sound, the manual car just felt happy. I liked being in it. So we bought it.
The first night, I took it out with my whole family in it and drove around the neighborhood. And, you know what, I did okay. I was nervous the whole time. Every time I had to come to a complete stop, my heart raced and my stomach knotted. What if I killed it? What if I killed it with somebody behind me? What if I killed it with somebody behind me on a hill and rolled into them?
I took a deep breath and forced myself to keep going. And I didn't kill it. The next night, we piled the family into the car and I drove it out of our neighborhood. That night, I did kill it. I put it in third instead of first. We were in a parking lot, though, and nobody was behind me so I survived. My pride was a little hurt, however, because I was pretty sure the people in the drive through next to me were laughing . Still, I got through it. And I got through the next two week.
Now, I'm driving in rush hour traffic. I've driven downtown to pick up my husband from work. I've driving to the library to pick up books for my kids. I'm pretty much driving everywhere. And, most of the time, I don't think about it much anymore. Sure, I occasionally screw up my gears. Rush hour traffic is rough. I still haven't gotten to the point where I instinctually know which gear I should be in when I'm in sixth gear and traffic suddenly slows to a crawl in front of me. But I've gotten pretty good at figuring out out...by the third try.
What's struck me the hardest about this whole experience is the how awesome it's made me feel. Yes, I'd driven a stick before. But it'd been so long that I honestly didn't know if I could do it. I mean, I knew I'd figure it out eventually, but I didn't know how long it would take me. And that was kind of scary. But meeting the challenge has made me feel a bit triumphant.
...until the time I do kill it, on a hill, with another car behind me.....