Over the last week, I did two things that I swore I’d never do: cut my hair off, and drove a car.
Yes, it’s true. I have an unhealthy fear of driving and short haircuts. It all dates back to a couple of scarring childhood experiences: a shearing of mythic proportions at a salon named “Little Princesses” that cut my hair (which was down to my feet) up to my ears - and a head-on collision that left me physically damaged for the last 8 years.
Nevertheless, this past week, I faced those fears head-on (no puns intended) and surprisingly, neither was as horrifying as I’d imagined they would be. In fact, after both instances, I felt a lot better about myself and the world. I had done two things I could never have imagined doing and the results had been relatively successful. (I didn’t cry after either, and amazingly, no one was injured or killed!)
As I sat in the front seat of M’s Chevy, a location in a car I’d boycotted my entire life (even when asked to sit double-parked in case a policeman came– a cause of many a fight with my parents), I kept my foot pinned down to the brake and took a deep breath. “Take your foot off the brake,” M said patiently. “No,” I shot back. “Nan, you have to take your foot off the brake,” he repeated. “No,” I blurted out again, “I have to sit here for a little bit.” I sat waiting. “Nan, come on” M started again, chuckling a little.
Didn’t he realize what a huge deal this was? That I was taking my (not to mention HIS) life into my hands and doing the very thing I swore up and down for 8 years I would never ever EVER do? I had to laugh a little myself. “Will you say a prayer?” I said, turning to him, pressing down even harder on the brake, in an attempt to buy more time. “No, I will not pray about this,” M said, “You know, right now, God is watching this and He’s laughing at you.” He joked. We had a good laugh, but it brought me no closer to moving my foot in any way.
Eventually, I had to give up and take my chances at the wheel which had (perhaps too trustingly) been put in my hands. I let up on the brake and felt the car creeping forward up the road. I held on tight to the steering wheel as though it would fly away if I lost my grip. I felt like a little old lady moving at a snail's pace down the road, clinging to the wheel and turning it ever so slightly to stay within the lines. My first time, I made it up to a massive 25 miles an hour!
What? It was my first time!
On our second attempt, I was more poised. I felt more confident that the car would obey me and I didn’t freak out. Eventually, I got up to 50 miles an hour! There were no casualties! No small animals or children were injured, nor were any trees unnecessarily mowed down! I DROVE and I lived to tell about it.
Who ever would have thought?!
Certainly not me… though I must say that M did not seem altogether surprised. It just goes to show that a little faith goes a long way. In this case, a couple of miles, and as for next time… one can only imagine how far!