All completely frightening.
Losing that first time over and over again is never a good memory. Though the first time you feel like you belong is the best first time of all.
Tentatively, at first, I turned the key in the ignition. Engine alive and releasing a throaty purr into the crisp morning
air. I take the handbrake off, ease her into gear and check over my shoulder before moving away from the curb.
And staling it.
Quickly I turn the key again and give the car a few more revs before completely removing my foot from the clutch. The car and I sail down the street, indicate around the corner and around another and around another.
My first time on my red P’s.
It was a dark winter morning, the road was darker from the down pour the night before. The air was crisp enough to crackle on each breath.
But as I headed down Gardner Cirut in my refrigerator car, the adrenaline kicked in returning warmth to my numb fingers. My smile was probably the warmest thing in that car.
Drove further on, right hand turn, pass the green park, kids already there on bikes. I check the rear vision mirror, three cars. In front another three.
I feel confident travelling in my silent car in the middle of the parent taxi convoy, passing children walking, hudled
over as the wind blew. Amazingly confident. I could do this. I could be an adult and drive myself in traffic.
The lights turn on the highway. I pull round the corner and look frantically for a space to merge. Bloody idiot
drivers. No one is slow enough for me to sneak in. No one! My eyes widen. Body overheating, again. Each car noise makes me jump. No space. “Come on. Come on.”
There. Just coming is a space. I put her into gear and dart over into the next lane.
The bloke behind me toots his horn.
I frown. I merged safely(ish) and no one was going to let me in. I shake my head and concentrate.
Down the highway at sixty kilometres, it seems almost like speeding.
Indicator on, I move into the line of people turning down the street. Behind me there was another toot and the bloke
went around giving me a filthy look.
The line gets shorter and I sail round and down, down, down the street. No way was I parking near others. I wasn’t that good and neither were the parent drivers.
I pull into the curb and kill the engine. Alive and in one piece.
Finally I belong to a new group. A very exclusive group from now on. I was a P plater, closer to being a full adult. After that first time, it became easier driving to and from school, down town and around to friends houses.
It was a significant moment when I realised I belonged behind the wheel and had ever right to be on the road, no matter who tooted.