One Long Drive

May 14, 2008
By Keara Brown, Houston, TX

The keys felt like fire burning a hole in my hand. “Do you think you are ready, meja?” Mr. Garcia, my driving instructor, asked as he handed me the keys warily. He was a short, Mexican man with a soft voice outside the car and a screaming voice inside the car. “Never,” I felt like saying. “Yeah, I think so,” I mumbled, not quite sure of myself. I was nervous and my hand jiggled as I tried to put the key into the door. The key fit in like a missing puzzle piece. The locks popped open and we began to get in to the small, white Toyota car with the “Safeway Driving School” decal on the back window. “There’s no turning back now,” I thought as the car rumbled into ignition.

“AHH! The stop sign! STOP!” Mr. Garcia screamed at me in Spanish. I had just run my second stop sign in five minutes. Mr. Garcia had a tendency to burst into fits of Spanish whenever I did something “careless.” “We do not do that at Safeway Driving School!” he said, rubbing his forehead as if I was causing him a headache. “Sorry,” I apologized from my perch atop the three pillows he was making me to sit on. “You can go,” he ordered. I stepped on the gas and the car lurched forward. It was my final driving test and I was sure I was already failing.
“Turn right into the parking lot,” Mr. Garcia directed. I pulled into the nearest parking spot (quite perfectly, I must add) and then put the car in park. “Did I pass?” I asked beseechingly. “Well…” He began. “Please?” I whimpered again with my best puppy-dog eyes. He seemed to be deciding my fate as I waited hopelessly for the news. “Okay, but not by much,” he said stubbornly. “Thank you!” I said, jumping up and hitting my head on the ceiling of the car. I dropped the keys into his cupped hands. I watched them recoil in his hands intently and it finally got to me. “I passed!” I screamed as I threw open the door, not bothering to look back. I felt like I was in one of those movies where at the end the actress is so happy and goes down the street, hugging random people. At that moment I felt so unstoppable, capable of doing anything I put my mind to.

This isn’t by far the most major event in my life. However, when I was making my list I looked twice at the “time I passed my driving test” category because I instantly remembered how good it felt. It felt so grown-up, responsible, everything most teenagers usually aren’t. Whenever I think of driving, I think of those hair commercials. Oh yeah, just in case you want to know who the girl with the shiny hair and killer sunglasses hanging out of the window of that new convertible is? That would be moi!

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