Looking back on the day I got my driver’s license, I can remember almost every detail. I passed my driving test, drove home with my mom, and immediately texted my best friends bragging about finally having my license. Although it was June and most of them could already drive. I set a time to pick them up so I could finally be the one to drive my friends around.
As a young 16-year-old with a brand new, shiny, parent-free driver’s license, I packed my big white Chevy TrailBlazer front row and back. On a beautiful summer day, we drove around with the music on, windows down, stopping to get some ice cream along the way. For the most part we drove with no purpose, I was just happy to finally be in control of the car.
I grew up in a family that owned a local Chevy and Volkswagen dealership in our town, so naturally we had an allegiance to these car brands. Whenever we decided to go “car shopping,” the options were limited to either Chevrolet or Volkswagen, while my sister and I always had our eyes on other big manufacturers such as Jeep and Range Rover. My first car had originally been my mother’s, which she used for our carpools before we could drive. When my brother was of driving age, she moved on to a smaller, newer model, the Chevy Equinox, which she still drives today, and Patrick was able to inherit the good ol’ TrailBlazer.
Being the youngest of three, the car was not just mine to have; I shared it with my two older siblings. I loved just riding around in that car with them. We would sit, listen to music, hangout, go to school: our entire high school experience happened in that large white SUV. When my sister turned 16 I remember her and my brother constantly bickering over who got the car, and when. And I would just go around begging either of them to give me a ride to the mall or to a friend’s house. Finally, when the day came that I was able to drive, I think we all soon came to the realization that the car was now being split between three people. Although my brother was soon going to be off at college, the attempt to share one car was quite a challenge. But I remember when I did happen to get the car for the day, it was a good day.
The car was white, large, hard to park in small places, and often needed to be taken in for a tune up since it had been running for many years. We had to get a cover for the steering wheel (very unstylish, I know) because the steering wheel leather was just falling apart. You couldn’t read the words on the stereo buttons, but we knew what they meant. In order to play music from our phones we had to insert a cassette tape into the stereo system and connect the phone to a chord going into that small device. It seems a bit ancient, but at the time it was very exciting to get to play your own music from your phone. The oil seemed to be always running out and gas cost us a fortune. But they were the least of my worries. Because it was my first car, it could do me no wrong. I would get in, and speed out of the driveway, music on and windows down. The unreal freedom and excitement felt driving your own car, on your own, wherever you want to go, was unmatched by anything I had experienced. Today, driving may seem like a chore for me as I am having to drive long distances to run an errand or drop off kids that I nanny for. I used to appreciate driving and the excitement of getting behind the wheel and being in control. My outdated, large, boxy Chevy wasn’t the most stylish car or anything to be envied, but being my first car, the experience made it amazing in its own right.
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