When my twin sister, Amanda, and I were little, everyone thought she would get her license and would drive me around. She’s much of a “think things through” kind of girl. I’m much more “live in a moment.” She’s practical and logical. I’m not. Well, the day before my permit expired, I finally got my license.
Oh, and it feels good.
In the beginning, I never really cared about getting my license. I might have wanted it, but not enough that it was on my to-do list. Since I was holding a steady job and my parents would always complain about driving me, I knew I had to get it. My friend, Elizabeth, who got her permit a couple months before me, hooked me up with this online driving school (which didn’t help at all, but was needed to get my permit) and this local driving school company, Delta.
Elizabeth was helping Amanda and I study the day before the written test. (In California, people take the written for the permit test and behind the wheel for the license.) I remember that Amanda was answering all the questions right and I was answering all of them wrong. This was going to be horrible! Amanda was sure to pass and I would fail. I remember wanting to cry.
That’s what saved me on the written test. I couldn’t sleep the night before. Delta gave me a list of practice questions. I studied those questions for hours. Elizabeth didn’t go over them with us. We took the test at the DMV in Glendale. I was nervous; I had never been in a DMV before, nevertheless taking a permit test in one. They sat me in a really uncomfortable chair. I took a deep breath and realized: The test was made up of the same questions that Delta gave me! I was free! I was totally going to pass.
I turned my test in and it seemed like the lady took forever to grade it. She was so casual when she handed the test back to me, telling me to take it to some window. I stared at her blankly. Hello? Did I pass? She said I did and I clapped. Everyone in the DMV stared, but I didn’t care. I passed! I knew Amanda would, too! She was so much better. Amanda didn’t pass. She failed by one question. I felt horrible. I knew if she looked at the questions from Delta, she would have passed. Amanda retook the test two or three weeks later, after looking at the questions from Delta. She didn’t miss one question.
The next step was visiting Delta. My driving instructor, Robert, was the best. He would take me out for two hours every session. We had all these memories like the time I almost got raped at the gas station. (I know this is scary, but Robert was there, so I wasn’t really in danger). Amanda refused to let us go back there. I was always at Amanda’s lessons, too. She was scared to be alone with a stranger (she is still five, I swear), so I’d sit in the back and do homework. No matter how many times I would explain it, Robert never learned what an electron was. It was so great. Delta made driving fun.
I made mistakes, though. I drove on the wrong side of the road in the biggest street in town with my mom. That was pretty bad. I’ve improved, I promise. Amanda quit driving. It was “too scary” and “too dangerous.” This just put more pressure on me. Somebody had to pass. My parents were sick of driving me.
After a while, I felt I was ready for the test and set up an appointment for Glendale. The two closest DMVs are Glendale and Pasadena. Pasadena is supposedly impossible, so I went to Glendale. At this point, Elizabeth had her license. She passed at Glendale her first time. I really thought I was ready. I wasn’t ready. It was really, really, really bad. I backed onto the sidewalk. I don’t really want to talk about it. I really don’t want to relive it. I didn’t even finish the course. It was that bad. I cried.
I waited a while and practiced a lot. In California, people have three shots to get their licenses. If they don’t pass in three tries, they go back to driving school. I loved Delta, but I wasn’t prepared to go back to driving school. I set up an appointment for Glendale again. I wasn’t that nervous this time. I knew what I needed to do. The grader was nice.
My test was absolutely perfect until the last turn. There was a yield sign, and there are none of those by my house. I knew I had to yield to traffic, but I freaked and messed up on the last left turn. It was sad. The instructor told me she wanted to pass me. She said I was a good driver and I should have passed. She felt bad. I felt bad. I blew it – and, now, I was the loser who failed her test twice.
My friends and family criticized me. Even my friends who hadn’t driven with me said I was a bad driver. Amanda had told them horror stories and totally made me look bad. Friends who had driven with me just made it worse. A cute boy who I was crushing on (who also turned out to be jerk) turned it into a teasing game. He was obviously just playing when he told me I couldn’t drive, but that just hurt even more. He didn’t realize it, I’m sure, but it really hurt me.
My own father refused to drive with me, because I was “a horrible driver” who “was going to kill him.” The only one who stuck up for me was the woman who drove with me the most – my mother. In fact, she didn’t even watch me drive after a while. She just sat in the passenger seat, texting her business partner. I didn’t get it. At this point, Elizabeth and one of my other friends had actually crashed their cars, but I was the bad driver? Nothing made sense. I just wanted to give up.
The day before my third test was hell. My father refused to drive with me, but my mother was out of town, so he had to. He got in the car and sighed. I knew before I started the engine it was going to be bad. He started yelling when I was driving. I freaked out. I started crying and my eyes were blurring. I couldn’t see. It was the scariest moment of my life. I just wanted to give up. The only reason I was getting my license was so he didn’t have to drive me. I cancelled my test and was done. Just done.
My mother told me I had to do a third try. I didn’t understand. She let Amanda quit so why not me? It wasn’t fair. She told me I had gone too far. I agreed, not happy, and scheduled another test. I never drove with my father again.
My third test was today. If I hadn’t passed, I would’ve quit. My friends and father were right. I am a danger to the road. The cute boy did something right, as much as I hate him right now. He told me he took it at Van Nuys. Van Nuys is half an hour away, but he convinced me that it was the way to go, and I listened to him.
My main issue is left turns. I hate left turns, so I was pleased to find out there was only one left turn that I didn’t have the right of way. Van Nuys is twenty times easier than Glendale. Glendale made me wait 45 minutes. Van Nuys took me early. Glendale was familiar, and I wasn’t comfortable in Van Nuys. I was going way too slow. Well, the rule is I could make 15 minor mistakes and pass. I made fourteen, but I passed. It’s funny, because the second lady wanted to pass me, but the third guy seemed reluctant to pass me. He did, but she didn’t.
I had my license. Where was the first place I wanted to go? Coldstone’s? A friend’s house? Nope. I went to Rite Aid to buy feminine hygiene products. Glamorous, I know. It felt so cool. I walked into Rite Aid, feeling all excited that I drove by myself. I walked up to the employee (I know the employees very well; I go to Rite Aid at least twice a week) and bragged. She looked at me, confused, “So, you have your license, and you choose to come here?” Yep, that’s me.
So, the day before my permit expired, I finally got my license. It was a grueling year. Filled with tears, I can’t believe I got through with it. Amanda still doesn’t want hers. Whatever. I love my license. As for all my friends, who’s the only one with a license who hasn’t gotten in an accident? Yeah, that’s me. Life is good. I’m so happy to be a licensed driver.