Whenever someone asks me for a ride, I feel like an alien pretender trying not to be unmasked. Oh! This is a thing adult humans do for one another when they are all going from one place to another place together! I try to remind myself. This person is treating me as a normal human! Act normal! Make a facial expression like a regular person would make! Then I try not to react like they’ve just suggested something terrible and insane, and that driving a car is not horrible for me, and driving another person wouldn’t be embarrassing torture.
I don’t like that driving is such an essential skill here when for me, it’s an awful mixture of tedium and terror, a blend of dull, monotonous highways and then a lightning move to avoid crashing into the idiot without a turn signal and then moving along again, totally ignoring how close we just were to death and dismemberment. It makes me hate people, too, and see them less as interesting stories and possible friends, and more as morons who are trying to kill me. (How can it just be that way “for me”? How are normal people able to cope so well with boredom punctuated by near-death?)
One of the many, many things I loved about Brooklyn is that driving is such a non-issue. And there are many, many reasons I hated living in Cary, but the necessity of driving every single day was one of them.
Whenever I drive, I arrive unhappy, flustered and upset. In North Carolina, I’m constantly battered by spending so much energy simply getting places. It makes a hard day, devoting so much energy to what is to others a mindless daily task, and it means always arriving tense, and always making those forgot-the-milk, lost-my-keys sort of strained mind mistakess that usually signal a stressful week, but are the everyday constant for me now.
In Brooklyn, my emotional resiliency (Are you familiar with Jane McGonagall’s SuperBetter?) was constantly strengthened. I read novels on the train to work, or watched crazy fashions, or eavesdropped, and stopped for coffee on my walk. Sure, some days the train was late or crowded or dirty, but the default settings were very good! I really miss that.
I can drive, and I do. But carefully backing the car out of a visitor’s space at my building (it takes me several tries to get into the assigned space), turning the radio off so I don’t get overwhelmed, and then taking the special back route around the second-rate coffeeshop, where parking is easier than the good coffeeshop, is exhausting.