On the last day of 2015, I drove a manual transmission car on the road for the first time.
My Love Interest had begun teaching me early in the spring, in Virginia, before we started our RV adventure. I'd taken the first scary step of selling my car, the very vehicle (pun intended) for my independence, in order to prepare for our summer departure. His car, a newer six-speed, would be the one we'd tow as we traveled around the country. I wanted to learn to drive stick anyway; this was the perfect opportunity.
A couple weekends in Charlottesville, I got behind the wheel in deserted high school and shopping center parking lots. I figured out how to make the car stall (I was a natural), and, later, how not to make the car stall. I grew to hate the clutch and how hard it worked my left leg. I said "I can't" many, many times, even though I could, and was. I got agitated, because, as you might remember, I really struggle with first-timer imperfection and awkwardness. Still, I acquired enough basic skill to move the car, somewhat haltingly, around a closed course.
In late June, we set out on our travels. Over the course of the next six months, we'd park our rig in each destination for a week or two at a time and take the car out for excursions—grocery shopping, day trips, exploring. In theory, I knew there would come a day when I'd be able to drive the car (in fact, my Love Interest said he believed I already could, that I already knew everything there was to know, I just needed to get behind the wheel and go), but I guess I was waiting for it to happen to me; maybe an emergency or a scheduling conflict would make it so that I'd have to get over my fear and uncertainty once and for all. But, the longer I went without attempting to drive, the scarier it seemed. It felt scarier during that period of avoidance than it had before we'd practiced for the first time.
Fast forward to New Year's Eve. While already out and about, we ordered pizza to-go and were given a 25-minute wait time. Too short to do much of anything and too long to spend sitting in the car outside the pizza place. Without realizing what I was saying, I suggested a brief round of practice in a vacant parking lot a few blocks away. I figured 25 minutes of grueling practice would be more like 15 or 20 minutes before we'd have to switch places again and pick up the pizza. Easy peasy.
With every stall and every success, my Love Interest playfully barked, "Again!" Around and around the parking lot we went, up and down little hills. I kept commenting on the time: "We should probably get going," and "Pizza's probably ready." Finally, he agreed. "It's time," he said, and directed me to make a right, and then a left. "Now, pull out there," he said. As I did it, I realized he'd guided me to the parking lot exit. We weren't switching places. I was about to pull out into traffic. "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm doing this," I said in an even tone as I did it.
Crawling along in second gear, I got us to the pizza place without stalling once (despite having to stop at two traffic lights). I climbed out of the car, my underarms clammy, my body vibrating with adrenaline. It was the last day of the year and I'd finally made good on my intention without even meaning to. My reward? Now, I can say: In 2015, I learned to drive stick.
The day and year don't matter as much as the act of following through on an intention. What intention can you make good on before midnight tonight?
Notes from the week of January 3
MEALS EATEN, DRINKS DRUNK
+ kale, black bean, and avocado burrito bowl
+ Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt
+ 2012 Vietti Barbera d'Asti
+ Bodegas Volver La Mancha Single Vineyard Tempranillo 2012
READ & NODDED MY HEAD
+ "Against Chill" (head-nodding became more vigorous at this point: "I routinely happen upon men who are perplexed when I eventually declare that I want to know where we stand. Indecision is not a noble virtue"; my single years were one long struggle against this very paradigm)
LOCAL COLOR EXPERIENCED
+ Susie, across the street, who told me we should get a second carbon monoxide detector
+ Maggie, who walks/drags her stubborn dog around the RV park
+ Troy, who is a self-proclaimed survivalist, and his wife Stephanie
+ decided to keep up the vintage bottle brush trees through February (makes winter feel less bleak)
+ same with fairy lights
+ as promised in the last Weekly Findings, a cabinet of curiosities has been installed on the website; stay tuned for more collections