In 2003, I definitely got ahead of myself.
Sometimes, we get impatient about receiving our blessings. We like to rush progress and even get upset when our achievements don’t flow in fast enough. As a teen, I drooled over the idea of driving and getting my own car. I envisioned driving across the city to grab food and hang out with friends. It meant tangible independence.
As excited as I was, I kept having a traumatic dream. Picture yourself driving the family station wagon. You’re only a few blocks from when you coast up to a stop sign. Then as you depress the brake your head is firmly pressed against the headrest and you’re speeding into 4 lanes of crossing traffic. You look to your left and see a blue minivan, surely carrying half the local soccer team, barreling toward you. Before impact you wake up in a cold sweat. WTF!
So in the summer of 2003, on a Sunday afternoon, my mom was away. Her old car sat motionless and cool in the dim dark garage. It called to me. So, I answered. The keys were in the kitchen cabinet. I snagged them off the hook and slid out the back door. I jumped in the driver’s side of the white Ford tempo and turned the ignition. The seat felt like home and smelled like freedom. Windows down and wind in my hair, I was hitting corners with reckless abandon. Well not really. I obeyed all traffic signals and rules. But I was living the independence I once coveted. Destination? To see the radiant smile of my hourglass-shaped girlfriend, of course.
I arrive at her house, radio blasting In Those Jeans by Ginuwine. I do a three point turn in the street to back into the driveway. I back in slowly at first then I pick up a little momentum just for some flare. Then I depress the brake pedal, but instead of slowing down I speed up. My worst fear had come true. I floored the gas… in reverse… right into the front of her dad’s old pickup truck.
Are you OK?
When the car finally stopped, I pulled the door handle and nothing happened. The door was stuck. I won’t share all the expletives I was thinking. I rolled the window down to complete the embarrassing climb out. Apparently the crash was loud enough to bring out the neighbor. “Are you OK?” came from the porch next door as I straddled the window jam. Without looking I said, “I’m fine.”
I gave the car a once-over to assess the damage. The back end was crumpled like a Coke can, but the truck was spotless. So, I swiftly slipped into the house for my visit as planned. I finished the trip and made it back home before my mom did. The car made it back into the garage where it began. Soon, my mom would be home and I acted like all was good. Eventually though, the shame overwhelmed me.
"Mom, I have to tell you something. I went to see *hourglass girl* and something happened. I took the car. When I was backing into the driveway, I accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake. I rammed into her dad’s truck. I’m OK. The truck is fine, but the car is really bad. I'm sorry." She asked, "Well, what do you think your punishment should be?" "I guess I won’t have a car," I say with tears welling up? "Exactly," she stated plainly. Within a few days, my independence was towed away in the driver seat of an '86 Ford Tempo.
Until next time my people.