Shifting Gears

I discovered something interesting about myself this weekend: I can swear like a sailor. At least, I can swear like I imagine a sailor swearing…I suppose the two are not necessarily the same.


John, with a loving mix of encouragement and hesitation, let me make the drive into Bedford to visit with Grammy this weekend. Not that he would ever prohibit me from taking the car, but…well, let’s just say that my commitment to public transportation and walking is not solely out of concern for the environment. City driving triggers my own personal Mr. Hyde—a reaction that always highlights for me so poignantly the strong connection between blinding terror and rage. Driving with that kind of doubled vision impairment is just bad news bears.


Anyway, we’ve driven out to Grammy & Grampy’s house enough times that I’m pretty familiar with the route, and I have survived driving John’s standard (or, I should say, Fizzgig has survived having me at the wheel), so when Grammy and I made plans to go through the Sullivan family history together, I decided I could handle driving myself out so John could luxuriate in having the morning entirely to himself (himself and the laundry, anyway—my husband is awesome).


The car was parked parallel when I got out to the curb, so I gritted my teeth in determination and proceeded to murder the clutch in what was eventually a successful attempt to parallel un-park the car without stalling or rolling into someone else. After that, the drive out wasn’t too bad. I left at eight in the morning, which, in a college town, is almost as good as driving at four in the morning anywhere else. The roads were empty and quiet, so I was able to putter my way into Bedford at a comfortable max of 50 mph without much ado.


Driving back, however, was a different story. I left Grammy’s a little after two and made my way easily enough out of Bedford and down the wide highways that empty into Cambridge. The trouble is that, though they empty their contents into Cambridge, they don’t do much to reduce the contents before they do their dumping, so four empty lanes becomes two full ones very quickly. I was shortly in bumper-to-bumper traffic, slogging around the rotaries and along the Charles, when I heard Nuvi (our mostly trusty GPS navigator) utter that horror-inducing word: “Recalculating.”


“Oh great,” I muttered. “What did I do?” Nuvi had been directing me quite firmly to the right, where I was, on the farthest right lane possible like an obedient follower, when she decided that I needed to “Turn left, 500 feet.” Mr. Hyde must have taken over, because I don’t remember how I managed to take that turn. Either way, I made it, and as no sirens flared up behind me (a good thing, since I realized on leaving Bedford that I had left my wallet at home), I shall assume that I didn’t leave any flaming metal carcasses behind me in the effort.


The traffic continued to be agonizingly slow, which would have been fine if not for people who think that they can make things move more quickly by leaving exactly one-tenth of a centimeter between their front bumper and that of the car preceding. Comforting, when you’re a hack at driving the standard you’re in and being forced to stop on slopes with some frequency. That’s when I discovered my capacity for foul language. There’s something surprisingly calming about cussing out the idiots who refuse to allow you any rolling room—vents the steam and lets you keep driving.


In spite of an excess of engine revving and irritation, Fizzgig, Nuvi, and I made it home without injury to ourselves or others. Our labors were rewarded by a perfect parking spot that was neither metered nor parallel. I can’t say that I’m any more eager to take up driving in Boston, but at least I have discovered that I am, in fact, capable of doing so. And I will again, I’m sure, because the priceless time I spent with Grammy would have been worth infinitely more stress than that to get there and back.

3 thoughts on “Shifting Gears

  1. Welcome “sailor”, you are now officially a Boston driver!!!!
    Have you started using the finger too?
    Sorry you had a stressful end to your day. We did have fun.


    1. No worries–no fingers! I don’t think I could actually bring myself to curse either if people could hear me…I’m not that much of a sailor. As for the stress, like I said, it was completely worth it, and of course, the more I make the drive, the less stressful it will be, right?


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