Driven to Read

Long car rides are never appealing. I’m far too nervous a passenger to ever take to the road just for the fun of it. I would love to explore the small towns and off the beaten trail Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives that offer the wonderful food experienced by Guy Fieri on the television show by that name, but, with my affliction it would not be enjoyable for me or the driver.

I don’t know where my fear of cars comes from. I just know it’s been there as long as I can remember. Long before seatbelts became standard I was doing everything I could to remain safe in a moving car. I’d insist on sitting by the door where I’d push down the latch, grab the door handle and hang on for the duration of the ride. If you listened closely you’d here the words of the Lord’s Prayer from the moment the car pulled out of the drive until it came to rest at our destination. Once there I would breathe a sigh of relief which lasted until about an hour before I began to worry about the trip home.

I’m Okay when I’m driving. The sense of being in control eases most of the fear. Until a big truck comes into view, that is. If it’s in front of me I hope it will take the next exit before I get too close. If it’s behind me, I move as far to the right as I safely can and slow down enough to let it pass, praying the driver won’t suddenly veer into my lane. In my mind, I see those huge tires crumpling the side of my car and I imagine the agony of having my legs crushed under their weight.

Now where did that come from?

I don’t know. It’s just there and it won’t go away.

In order to keep my fear under control and to avoid driving my husband crazy when we plan a road trip of any length I fill my oversized leather purse with books. As soon as we enter the highway I open book one and begin to read. If the trip is very long I may go through two or three books each way. It isn’t a perfect solution; if I happen to glance up just as we’re passing a big truck I still feel panic rising in my chest. “Land shark!” I say, drawing a look from Mike. A combination of confusion, patience, and exasperation, it’s a look I only see on road trips. Once past the truck I relax and go back to my book.

People may think I’m crazy but it works for me. It doesn’t require the use of a tranquilizer and it gives me time to read some of my favorite books. High on my list is one by Beverly D’Onofrio titled, Girls Riding in Cars with Boys.

Ironic, isn’t it?

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