As a StoryTerrace writer, Anne interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below
“You wanna go? Fine. You drive, then.”
I shot my lover a sullen glare. It was blazing hot in South Florida and hadn’t rained in weeks; the grass crackled like straw. I wanted nothing more than to get in the air-conditioned car and cruise to the west coast, but only in the passenger seat.
I felt so betrayed. Patrick was supposed to understand! Support me! Few people knew it, because it made me ashamed, but I hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car in years.
At 17, I’d been driving Storm King Highway in New York’s Hudson Highlands in Mom’s old Toyota, coming into a tight S-curve that snakes between a stone-faced mountainside and a 400 foot drop to the river, when the accelerator got stuck.
Spectacular scenery whipped by far too fast, and when we got to the next straightaway, I managed to get my toe under the pedal and pull it up, pull over and fall into the passenger seat in a puddle of sweat.
Someone should have insisted I get back behind the wheel as soon as the car was mechanically sound. Instead, the fear festered, adding to a pile of late-adolescent woes that I now recognize as anxiety and depression, but assumed at the time meant that I was just hopeless at adulting.
Now I was 27 and we’d been invited to join some Gulf Coast friends on their boat. To get there, we needed to travel Alligator Alley — famous for head-on collisions and giant scaly beasts with huge teeth. Patrick had worked a 60-hour week in construction. I knew he needed a break too, and also that he meant every word.
“Oh fine. Gimme the keys then.” Sweaty palms at 10 and 2, back ramrod straight, I inched out of the driveway and headed cautiously for the highway, furious and terrified.
The flat, straight two-lane pavement looked infinite. Approaching trucks looked impossibly malicious. But by the time we got halfway there, I began enjoying the Everglades and the feel of being in control. By the time we got to Naples, my non-driving days were over.
Pat, too kind to make a huge deal of it, hugged me and said well now, your legs just got a lot longer. It would be years before I tamed all my beasts, but now I knew they were mine to tame.