Monday, September 20, 2010

My (not so) Secret Desire

I have a burns inside me......I can hardly stand the longing sometimes.

Wanna know what it is? I'll give you a clue. It has to do with cars.

First I have to give you some background. For those of you who've just joined the conversation, I grew up overseas. I lived abroad so much that I had to document the dates I'd lived in the U.S when my first children were born in Mexico in order to prove I was a real American citizen and therefore my children could qualify for American citizenship as well.

What does that have to do with my secret desire? Well, when living with my family in India we didn't have a car. Maintaining a personal vehicle was not cost effective with so much cheap public transportation around. Then I was at boarding school in Japan. I didn't go out of school much and when I did it was with teachers or staff in their cars.

After boarding school, I married my husband and we moved to Mexico. We didn't have our own car (we worked on a missionary farm) and the few times we went into town we got rides with other missionaries.

Three years into our marriage we moved back to the States. Traveling with us were our first three children. That's right--we had three children before our third anniversary! Anyway, back to the story. We were hard at work trying to make a new life for ourselves. Tom got a job, his dad generously gave us a Chevy Blazer so he could get to jobs, and I settled into life as a stay at home mom. Very quickly baby number four joined our family.

Those next few years flew by with little time for anything but surviving and babies. Before long baby number five showed up and we were making a cozy home for ourselves. 

But their was a little something missing. I was a happily married mother of five and I COULD NOT DRIVE!

Shocking, I know! There had just been no time. You try learning to drive with three, four, five kids in the back seat. It's hard!

One day, a member of the Sunday School class I attended handed me some money and asked me to please go to driving school because she was "really worried about me". I immediately went to a driving school, paid the money and had three lessons with a driving instructor. At the end of the third lesson he declared me ready to take my driving test. But it would be another several months before I finally could. When I did, I completely failed parallel parking but I think the instructor felt sorry for me and she passed me anyway.

By the time I started driving with my very own license I was pregnant with number six. What a relief it was though to be able to get the kids and myself to church or the grocery store or the park or the....the list goes on and on.

But, there was still something lacking......

I didn't really miss it at first. But slowly, slowly the desire began to grow inside me. 

I don't know how to drive a manual transmission! There! I said it! *hanging my head in shame*

When I watch people driving a stick shift it's like magic.--Like watching a dance. I love it! and I don't know how! It's a sad, empty little place in my soul. 

Really, I know I'm being melodramatic. There are more important things in life--like saving babies in Africa or something. But.....if I could only have this special skill I would feel more complete.

Up until a year ago, we had been without a car for 3 years. We sold our car to pay for the move into the bush and took public transport. Finally, a wonderful church raised the money so we could get a bush-worthy vehicle. Our Landcruiser has been such a help but, alas, it is a manual. No driving for me.

Not that I could anyway. My dear, sweet, protective husband has declared very definitely that I will NOT be driving on these rural roads because there are too many perils. It's true. There are. But, oh, to not even have the option because I don't have the necessary talent. It kills me.

But! There's hope! Guess what I did today? I drove!!!! Tom let me take the wheel on the dirt road behind our house. I only stalled twice. I'm off to a great start! I'm so excited I could do a jig! In no time at all I feel I will have learned this elusive skill and be flying (well, driving) everywhere. I'll be one ability closer to whole. Wish me luck! and pray for Tom. He'll need it, I'm sure.

Is there a skill you wish you had, and in having would feel more complete?


  1. I'm always amazed at the number of women who don't know how to drive a stick. It is one of those survival skills that I think is neccessary, especially in Zambia, where most vehicles are manual.

    I highly recommend that you talk Tom into letting you do it more so that you can learn, because you may be stuck someday without him and need to drive. It's truly not that hard and driving in Zambia, while more perilous, is not that bad either.

    It's a different beast than America. You have to drive with an eye on all the other characters on the road- goats, children, bikes, buses, broken down vehicles, etc. But once you get behind the wheel in Luapula, your spidey senses will increase & you'll be much more aware of everything. And Luapula is by far the worst place to drive, as people think that hanging out in the road is why it was built.

    Once you can drive there, you can drive anywhere. Just don't take it personally if you take out a few goats- they seem eager to die. Good luck!

  2. I've always wanted to be able to paint. Watercolors to be exact. I have a talent for writing but would love to be abel to draw & paint.

    Good for you for learning the manual transmission. I'm praying for Tom, too. I have a 15 year old who is learning to drive & I swear I'm going to have a hole in the floor in the passenger side of my mom-van from stomping on my imaginary brake so often!

    Hugs & love,

  3. Oh, how cool! I love that you're finally getting to learn! You know, my very first car was a standard, so I had to learn to drive a stick at 16 years old. And I taught a few friends on that very car. It's fun, huh??

  4. Well done girl! Keep on practicing, it's not so hard once you get used to it.

    I've never actually drive an automatic - 99% of cars here are manual. I can't imagine NOT thinking about gears, it's second nature and in time it will be to you too.

  5. It's so funny you should write about driving a stick shift! Sunday HeMan Hubby and I were discussing Corvettes. ( there was one in front of us and well, it was top down and roaring to go).
    I wondered aloud if they even bothered to make them automatics because the sense of driving along, shifting gears, being in tune with the horses under the hood... it's just so much FUN to drive a manual...
    oh yeah, and it saves on gas, but mostly, it's just FUN!
    Good Luck... to you and Tom!

  6. I remember the first time I made a hill without stalling. I remember the street. I love being able to drive a stick. Here in the states, they aren't very common, so a lot of people I know don't drive them.

    I would love to be able to play the piano. I guess all I need is some lessons and practive. And a piano :-)

  7. Really funny. Great post. I guess I have always wanted to be able to write a book or screenplay, but I have never had time or the talent to cultivate that skill. I also wish I had good handwriting. :P

  8. I just love this story.... so glad you're finally getting this skill down.

    I was fortunate to learn on a "stick".

    Have fun learning.... poor Tom, brave Tom, loving Tom.... ha!
    Wow, there she goes!!

  9. Yay for skills!I don't know how to drive manual, and am envious of those who can--it's like a secret code or something.


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