My first memory of driving was the Legoland driving school. I remember zipping around the enclosed roads, not a care in the world at what felt like superhuman speeds (in reality maybe 5 mph). I was a natural and got my Legoland license at the first attempt. That was the beginning of a life long love of driving. This was inspired by my parents as both Mum and Dad are amazing drivers.
My first time at the wheel of a real car was probably around 10. I had been begging my Mum to let me drive, so she took me to an empty Powerleague car park and sat me on her lap. As she controlled the clutch, brake and gears, I turned the steering wheel to my hearts content. I’ll never forget that day, it was one of a handful that was just the two of us when I was growing up and that sense of safety stayed with me.
Me and my Mum in that moment.
My first driving lesson was a set up. I was living in Nigeria at the time and at the start of the lesson my instructor saw my trepidation and assured me that this lesson would be purely theoretical. As any Nigerian will tell you, the roads back home are treacherous so I was in no hurry to experience them without many hours of practice under my belt. But with my guard dropped and the lesson about to finish he told me to drive home which was a short distance in reality but a country mile in my mind as I sat behind the drivers seat.
I was STRESSED.
I stalled many times, so many times that the cars behind me started to honk. Throughout it all my instructor was unnerved, when drivers started to insult me he got out of the car to return insults in my defence. This helped me find my resolve and I found the biting point and drove us home on my first lesson.
My first driving test was a disaster. It started off well enough, I even asked the examiner why the speed limit was 70 mph as part of an attempt at small talk. Halfway through I was driving up a hill when I had to stop at a red light. As I attempted to find the biting point to start off again I rolled back slightly, which isn’t the biggest issue but at the same time a pedestrian was attempting to cross the road behind my car. She jumped (a slight overreaction) and as I stepped on the break, so did my examiner. I knew what that meant and had to drive the rest of the way knowing I had already failed.
How I felt inside.
My last driving test was straight out of a movie. For context this was my last chance as my theory pass certificate was about to expire. I had my Mum in the car as well as the examiner because she historically made me feel safe and assured. Like the first time things were going so well I was making small talk. As we approached the final straight I realised we were going to drive up a hill to get back to the test centre. With my history of hills I wanted to take the hill in one go but as I approached halfway a white lorry pull out ahead of me and forced me to stop halfway up the hill at a red light. I had seen this movie before, I looked at my mum in the drivers’ mirror and she mouth “you got this”. So I took a deep breath, centred myself and conquered that hill start like a champ. This time I knew I had passed before we got back to the test centre, my Mum knew as well. As the examiner handed me my pass certificate, my Mum handed me driving dice she had bought earlier because she had faith in me.
The first time I drove to university my Dad accompanied me. He drove up to me in Luton and patiently sat beside me in the car as I drove. Initially I didn’t want him there as I was wanted to do it by myself but as I sat in the driving seat on the M1 I was internally overjoyed that he was there. Motorway driving was terrifying, driving at 50 mph I watched as cars hurtled past me. I couldn’t comprehend how they could drive that fast. My Dad seeing my fear encouraged me to put my foot down and when I told him I couldn’t he physically pushed it down. I yelped but then I acclimatised to the speed and thanked him. As I dropped him off at Loughborough train station my eyes gave away how thankful I was that he came with me, he instinctively knew I needed him and showed up.
How my Dad probably felt inside as he watched me drive.
My parents were with me at every stage of the journey to get me on the road because they wanted to share with me the true joy of driving; freedom. With that freedom comes great responsibility and that was not lost on me in all the tries it took me to pass. Their skilled example inspired me and is a skill I hope to pass on in time to my own children as a failsafe to fall back on if they don’t care for driverless cars.
Peace and Love,
Aharoun the Author
2 thoughts on “In my blood”
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