I still hate driving.
It’s been this way for a while now- my left hand gripping the steering wheel, my right fumbling through radio stations in the dark as the streetlights on either side stretch out to my car, pulling me forward. The night sky through my sunroof is so much prettier than the dirt roads ahead of me and I have to will myself not to stare too long. Like my job, like my school routine, it’s tedious. My CDs are overplayed, the radio plays the same songs over and over, but silence makes me think.
And when I think, I lose sight of the road. I don’t go fast enough for the cars in front of me, or slow enough for the cops waiting on the side of the road. I am stuck at the constant speed of discomfort, a speed that, much like my life, is not my own. It’s a speed that tries to please everyone, and therefore pleases no one. I take the same routes every day. Every fucking day, it’s to school and back, to work and back. Sleep. To school and back, to work and back. I am ignited by the free time to go elsewhere, but where would I go? Who would I go with? I shrivel up and head home.
There was a weekend I planned to go to my sister’s for my birthday; she lives an hour and a half away, in Kennesaw. It was the first time visiting her that I had my own car, which meant I could drive myself. And yes, I took the back roads because I knew I couldn’t survive the highway, and yes I came early enough in the morning and left late enough the next night to avoid excessive cars, but I drove there. I drove an hour and a half away from home in an unfamiliar route by myself with no issues.
I remember how I use to drive down my own street, barely able to catch my breath. How I used to slam on my breaks every time I passed the place I once got in a wreck. I used to be so scared by the thought of having to drive that it would paralyze me for the rest of the day. I couldn’t even enjoy parties because it was all I could think about. I’m still startled by leaves rustling across the street. I still see shadows of people who aren’t there hovering too close to the sides of the road. But it’s all a fraction of what it used to be. I still hate driving, but now it’s out of boredom than fear. And I guess I can find that refreshing.
Emily Rose Cartwright is a writer, musician, and artist.
She is currently working on her degree in Early Childhood Education and hopes to become an elementary school teacher, where she can be a positive role model in children’s lives who may not have one.