And I was not disappointed. Having a driver’s license meant all the things I’d imagined as a sixteen year old; driving myself to school, shopping at the mall by myself, having control over the radio, and of course hearing the sweet jangle of keys emanating from my own hand.
Having my driver’s license also gave me experiences I never would have imagined… Getting lost on the way to a place I’d been dozens of times and realizing I’d never actually paid attention to how to get there (this has happened more times than I care to admit). Watching from the driver’s seat, mouth agape, as my front passenger wheel dislodged itself from the car, then spun in a lazy S-shaped path until it finally rested on it’s side in a bed of perfectly manicured flowers at the entrance to my apartment complex. Packing my car full all of my carefully chosen favorite things, including two bicycles (my trusty, old road bike and my sexy, new triathlon bike) and driving cross country to create a new life.
But on March 7th, 1995, I didn’t know about any of that. I only knew how cool I felt as I opened the double doors of my all-girls prep school, and stepping out into the warm spring afternoon, holding the keys to my grandmother’s 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra. I stepped into the car that I thankfully had not had to parallel park that morning.
As I cruised down Blackstone Boulevard, I rolled my windows down, turned on the radio, and sang along to The J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold,” hoping the driver of a passing vehicle would notice me. Me, the young driver of this oh-so-uncool grandma car with a terrycloth steering wheel cover. Me, wearing my school uniform, which consisted of a way too short plaid kilt, a white polo shirt, and a pair of Doc Martens. Me, with with my white, straight teeth, perfect from four and a half years of braces. Sixteen year old me, picked last for every team, never invited to the in-crowd’s parties, silently wishing someone else would notice how cool I was, driving my grandmother’s car on that sunny March afternoon.
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