Good times behind the wheel
Jared Lang | Highlands TodayAs of last November I'm allowed to vote in Nicaragua, drink in Portugal and wed in Scotland. In Florida, though, turning 16 is only significant for one reason, and it's the best of them all: I can drive.
Published: May 30, 2012
Published: May 30, 2012
On November 23, three days after my 16th birthday, I faced a daunting mission: the driving test. Upon arrival at the DMV, my mind was racing. Thoughts of insurmountable obstacles clouded my focus. What if someone cuts me off? What if my brakes go out? What if there's an earthquake? In my overwhelmed state, all three seemed equally likely.
Luckily, none of these catastrophes occurred. My stopping was a little jerky but I blame that on sensitive brakes. Actually, now that I think about it, there might have been a little earthquake, but like I said, my focus was cloudy.
I passed with flying colors, which is fortunate because all of the color in my face had drained during that nerve-wracking ten minutes.
Though my test was taken in my parent's 2004 Chrysler Town & Country, my soon to be first car was a 2001 Pontiac Grand-Am. She was silver, she was loud and to me she was beautiful.
On the first day that the Grand-Am was mine, I washed her, vacuumed her out and took her for a quick drive around the block. Never in my life had I felt more independent. Sure, maybe, I was just going for a joyride around the neighborhood, but tomorrow I may go to the mall, or Orlando, or even California. The possibilities were endless!
Amy, as she soon came to be known, was my new best friend. We went everywhere together. So what if she wasn't the prettiest car in the lot? When we drove down the parkway with her windows down and radio up, nothing could stop us.
Well, something stopped us. Amy's engine was all but gone when I got her and my NASCAR-like acceleration off of green lights didn't help.
Numerous times I stopped at a red light and was stuck there until the next red light, trying to restart her feeble motor. These breakdowns continued for a month or so until Amy reached her final resting place in early March. She still sits in the driveway, begging, to no avail, for a second chance at life.
After I ended things with Amy, I felt I needed some time to move on. We had so many good times together, and without her, I felt a little empty. How could I ever love another car like I had loved Amy? I couldn't, was the answer. That's when Beth walked, or should I say drove, into my life.
Beth is a gold 2006 Nissan Altima. While in the market for a new car, my grandma realized my need. After she bought a new Volkswagen, Beth was bestowed upon me. Beth was both of the things that Amy wasn't: quiet and reliable. We immediately hit it off and Beth soon became my new love. Again I felt the rush of driving with the windows down and the radio up, only now I open a sunroof as well.
Last weekend, my friend Taylor told me that she was impressed with the cleanliness of my car. Though it may seem odd that a teenage boy could keep anything clean, I guess that just proves how much I love Beth.
"My car is important to me, so I keep it clean," I said.
In the back of my mind I could hear my mom: "Why can't your room be important to you?"