My car has been sitting in the parking lot since I got her, staring at me in a disgusted way. "You're too scared to drive me," she says when I walk past her. "Come sit inside. I won't bite."
I'm not worried about sitting inside my car, I'm worried about actually driving her. Part of this anxiety has been due to my not having driving glasses, so when my first pair arrived this week I had no choice but to schedule an outing: I would get inside my car and not only sit in the seat, but I would DRIVE her as well.
So I did, and today was the perfect day for it. I drove out to Wellesley and found myself on some awful dirt roads. I think I cut somebody off on my first trip through the roundabout, but my second time through seemed a little better; I just followed the leader.
I am slowly getting over my totally-unexpected performance anxiety: when I'm driving my car I feel like I am in everybody's crosshairs. This feeling of being under scrutiny is a problem I have in everyday life, but there's no doubt that when you're driving a vehicle -- or when you're in a conga line -- you are a crucial part of a social pact. The system only works because everybody more-or-less knows the rules. I suppose that's why we have licenses and are supposed to actually study up on what the speed limit on a dirt road is. And unlike a conga line, when you bump into somebody your insurance goes up.
Since I am my own worst critic, I look at the people in the cars around me and I think, "Damn, they all KNOW I'm scared, and they HATE me." When some guy in a hummer gets on my butt because I'm only driving 15kph above the speed limit, I find that I've somewhat lost my devil-may-care attitude. I've forgotten that people will ALWAYS pass you on the road, and that the best recipe for a speeding ticket (or a rear-ending) is to try to accommodate them.
This situation isn't improved by the fact that, with my new glasses, I can actually SEE those faces. Vividly. The fact that they look indifferent instead of disgusted just makes me think that they'd play great poker.
So anyway, I survived my first deliberate test drive. Now I'm going to pick up a driver's ed handbook and go through the tricky parts (because nothing brings confidence like thorough knowledge), and then next time maybe I'll try some city driving; for the most part I have yet to deal with left-hand turns and pedestrians.