Just being able to drive that 1946 Plymouth was a rite of passage for me.
When my former roommate turned 21 in 1972, she insisted that we make a run to the liquor store in the next county, as Boone, NC, was “dry.” The legal age to drink had been lowered to 18 due to the Viet Nam war, but her birthday was an excuse to drive to Blowing Rock in the next county. I was the only one with a car among our acquaintance, so I was the designated driver. I didn’t want to go, as I was still afraid of driving in general and driving that car in particular. But I finally agreed, gaining a bit of confidence in making it ten miles across the gap to the store and back with no stall-outs, all in one piece. A small victory, a small step. I was soon to take a much larger step.
One winter afternoon I had an encounter with my Inner Being. My husband did not want to take me to see my girlfriend who lived out of town, back in the woods, so I was out by myself on a particularly curvy back road—the kind where you can see your own taillights around the bends.
I hit a patch of ice, not unusual in a place where they have recorded accumulation of snowfall in every month except August. I panicked.
But some part of me, not under the control of my conscious mind, steered through the skid and got the car back on dry pavement. My hands and feet worked the car, while my frontal lobe was busy figuring out how to scream. Maybe it was just dumb luck, and I didn’t do anything, but I felt that some kind of angel had rescued me from a long roll down a steep embankment.
I made it to my friend’s house without further incident, and back home safely, but with a knowledge that someone else lived with me in my body, someone who knew more about driving than I did.
I found my guardian angel. I was really glad she could drive.