Published by admin on 05 Dec 2008 at 10:06 pm
As I was driving home I hovered at a stop light, a small rise in front of me, and then a dramatic dip beyond it showing off the crooked towers of Century City. It was a dark clear night with a crispness to the air that we find so cold and wintery here in the Southwest. The radio was on, and Nirvana was playing. My feet caressed the clutch in and the brake on stopping me from my slight rocking back and I thought of the way it felt to first learn to drive, all those hundreds of years ago. And how far away it all seemed, but how one slight rise in the road could bring it all flooding back.
My father insisted I learn to drive a manual transmission before an automatic. We had a big field behind our house and I would drive our yellow Volvo station in circles, shifting from first to second, stalling incessantly, getting hot and dusty in the only car in Arizona with rust creeping around the edges of the frame and no air conditioning. Finally after watching me do circles in a sad little field my dad took pity on me and told me it was time to take a trip around the block.
I thought he was going to pull the car out of the field for me, there was a steep hill that you had to drive up to get to our dusty ungrated dirt road. He told me I had to learn sometime. I can still feel the way the gravel slipped beneath the tires and gave way as I tried to gun it up the steep grade out onto the dirt road that ran in a mile long loop around our subdivision. I might be remembering wrong but I made it out on the first try.
I spent that afternoon driving around our block. Something every kid dreams about learning how to do. Or at least every kid who wants to learn to drive.
We had one wicked hill in town with a stop sign at the very top. Every day at 3:02PM traffic at that stop sign would back up all the way down Pecan Lane as kids and teachers and buses would line up and wait to make it onto General Crook Trail. It was murder if you were a kid with a manual and a father who told you using the emergency brake was for pussies. I never once stalled on that hill, much to my own surprise.
The light changed on Olympic Blvd. and I dropped Afnuf into 1st, cruising back to home in Silver Lake, all those miles away from a tiny town in rural Arizona, and I thought even though I hate being stuck in brutal Los Angeles traffic with a stick shift, I love being transported back to a time when all I ever worried about was making it up CV hill without stalling my Subaru.
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