So my shameful secret is exposed: I am 21 years old and I don’t have a driver’s license. This apparently isn’t an oddity in my family; one of my cousins is 20 and just got hers last month or so. My 45-year-old aunt Angie still doesn’t have hers. My mom didn’t get hers until she was 21. My aunt Wanda didn’t get hers until she was 25 or so. I’m not saying I deliberately look at any of those situations as an excuse, I’m just saying… it works out that way.
It started off innocently. I took driver’s ed like everyone else I knew back in the 11th grade. I barely passed the written test and even more barely passed the road test and this is why: the NC DMV test is hard as hell. None of it is practical information that the common man needs to know on the road. Instead of road signs and when to use your brights, the test largely consists of knowing how many points various infractions are worth and the proper times to use snow tires. In other words, crap a law-abiding citizen of Charlotte, North Carolina does not need to know. Because I had the honesty of spirit to tell my mom that I accelerated instead of braking when a car sped toward me through an intersection (thank God for that passenger-side emergency brake) and because of her inherent feelings of self-preservation, I hardly ever had the opportunity to practice. You know that pass that’s good for 90 days that you have signed by the school secretary? I had it renewed like 4 or 5 times. Finally I graduated high school and decided to just skip it and get a South Carolina permit. That’s where I was spending the summers anyway, and my Grandaddy was more than willing to take me practice driving on the mean streets of Florence.
So I passed that written test with flying colors and I could drive whenever and wherever I wanted… as long as there was a licensed driver over 21 in the passenger seat. Getting a license was always pushed to the back burner during the school year when I didn’t have a car anyway, and became paramount during the summer. The problem was that I began spending more and more of my summers in Charlotte or Maryland rather than Florence and passing the road test became more and more of a distant possibility. I actually drove quite well whenever I was with my granddad or Third. One jaunt with my uncle Greg in Maryland ended in utter misery. Driving with my mom always ended in an argument or was contingent on my doing something I was never realistically going to accomplish, like cleaning my room. I just kept getting my permit renewed every year and eventually I gave up. It just wasn’t going to happen.
Since I’ve started at UNCC though, my mom has been a lot more willing to let me drive, and I have gotten a lot more comfortable. I don’t doubt that it has a lot to do with my discussing this whole debacle at length with my therapist, and her equating my self-sabotage and fear of driving to my subconscious fear of controlling my own life. I told her the next time she saw me, I was going to have made a major step toward getting my license (which in my mind really meant having it in my hand). Then I stopped seeing her. I’ve been wanting to go back but I would feel like a real loser if I still hadn’t accomplished this after a year, so I called the Arrowood DMV and made an appointment. For today. And so it began.