The lessons begin!
If you’ve been reading along, you know that I lived in China my whole life until only about 8 years ago. I had never driven a car but quickly found that now I was living in America I would have to learn sooner rather than later. I had explored my very small town about as much as I could by walking and wanted to broaden my new world. Of course, my American fiancé had driven since high school and pretty much grew up in cars. Until very recently the Chinese just didn’t have that same exposure to car culture. America is the home of the road trip. I’ve heard my future husband talk about when he was little; his family would pile in the car and make the 5 day drive from Michigan to visit his sister that had moved to California. They would stay there for about a week before spending another 5 days on the road on their way home! During these drives he would sit next to his father and control the steering wheel to keep the car centered in the lane. All while going at 70 miles per hour! When I was young we didn’t take road trips. We didn’t have a family car to climb into! If we wanted to go anywhere farther away than our legs would take us we would take a bus or train. The only thing with a motor that I had ever been in control of was a scooter. And that had ended badly! I remember losing control and crashing after barely missing some large and very hard objects.
But my guy was quite confident that he could teach me to drive so we thought we’d give it a try. I’m happy to say that now, almost 8 years later; we are still talking to each other! But, in fact I don’t think I can recommend learning how to drive from the man you plan to spend your life with. We definitely had some interesting “conversations” with me behind the wheel and him grabbing his armrest so tight it left finger marks! So, where should we start my lessons? I am pretty lucky that at this time we were living in a very tiny town. Just outside of town was countryside. Usually there wasn’t much traffic so I didn’t have to worry too much about getting in people’s way. Our town was a bit unusual because it has a lake very near the downtown. In fact, our house was only one small block away from where people would put their boats into the water. Another unusual feature of our town was that taking up a large part of the lake’s shoreline was a huge cemetery. My fiancé/driving teacher thought this would be a perfect place for me to practice driving. After all, certainly I couldn’t hurt anyone that was already IN the cemetery!
This area had lots of small roads that went back and forth to get to the different areas and of course was quiet and calm so I thought maybe he had a good idea. He drove the couple short blocks and into the narrow entrance gate and then stopped the car and I got into the driver’s seat for the first time. In yesterday’s post I mentioned that my husband drove a lot of miles to work and back every day so wanted a car that got good gas mileage. For him that meant he had a stick shift transmission. For me that meant that not only did I have to learn to drive, but also to shift at the same time. Anyway, I moved my seat, adjusted my mirrors, put the clutch in, put the car into first gear, put down the parking brake, slowly started to let out the clutch, and stalled. Ok. Start the engine again. Slowly let out the clutch, and stalled again. And again. And again. On the fifth time or so I started to get the hang of it. A bit more gas and a bit slower with the clutch and finally we were moving. I drove back and forth and turned left and right to start getting used to how the car would react. Things were going pretty well when my “teacher” suggested that we finish up by driving on the road that went right next to the lake shore. I had walked on that road many times and it was quite flat and actually wider than most of the others I had just been on so thought “why not?” Well I soon found out why not! And you will too. But not until my next post!