thief of time

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Making Allowances

As I think I mentioned before, I come from a fairly small town and moved into this rather large city when I married.

One of the things that’s really different to deal with is the traffic. When I first got here I didn’t drive for about a year. Not only was the volume of traffic horrendous, but my husband’s car was a manual, which added to the trauma. I should mention that not only am I a nervous driver, but I’m totally lacking in any sense of direction whatsoever.

That conquered, I found I didn’t actually have to step too far out of my comfort zone, as the suburbs I drove around in were actually quite bearable and there are lots of ways to avoid major thoroughfares if you have to do so. Anywhere that was too difficult, I let my husband do the driving--and yes I realise that’s very unfemale power of me, but I think if people have certain strengths they should play to them. Driving doesn’t worry my husband and I often do things up a ladder that he’d rather not deal with if he can get away with it. A complimentary partnership, you see. Of course, he also gets to do things like unblock the sewers. I’m afraid that really is very unfeminist of me.

Over the twenty odd years that I’ve been here, this avoidance has really worked out pretty well for me, except that, because neither of my children went to local high schools, I had to learn how to drive to their schools for things like after hour meetings. Never mind, after sufficient time (a matter of years), I was eventually able to drive on my own to both their schools. I was quite proud of myself, let me tell you.

Just lately, with my work, I’ve found myself having to step way out of my comfort zone by driving to parts of Sydney I’ve sometimes not even been to. I tend to drive with a mild sense of panic, as I’m sure I’m going to get lost and I often do. This is the truth, not a joke or exaggeration. I can still remember when the children were little and we were travelling somewhere to go to a mum and kids’ picnic, I was a bit unsure of which way to go and one of them piped up from the back “I wish Dad were here”. Even at that age they knew I was hopeless with directions.

I was driving to work along a six lane highway the other day and I was no more than thinking that my turnoff would be coming up soon, when I drove straight on by it. Yikes!! How could it be, when I’d memorized the map (I thought)? Guess I’m just accomplished—it’s something I do naturally (idiot woman!).

I’ve gotten to the point where I know I’m going to get lost, so I allow myself a fantastic amount of extra time to get somewhere, get lost, find myself again, and then hopefully arrive with time to spare (though sometimes I use the extra time to get mislaid once more). I always travel with a book to do something with my (hopefully) hour’s early arrival.

I have to keep telling myself that this driving is making me a stronger, better person—expanding my horizons.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll move onto sewers!


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