I laughed so hard I almost crashed my car.
Speaking of crashing my car…. Anyone play Tetris? I play it daily with my hatchback Toyota Corolla. From parking to navigating a single lane with cars going both ways, there is little room for error when driving in the UK.
Driving is very straight forward in Texas (pun intended). Straight, left turn, right turn, U-turn. You got it. This shocks my English friends, but I never took a practical test to get my license. They took my mom’s word for it. She signed a piece of paper, and at 16, I was eating, texting, applying make-up and operating a deadly weapon at the same time. *Gulp. You cannot get away with that in the UK- there are hazards everywhere. The UK allows expats to drive for one year before requiring a passing score on a three part exam– and it is hard.
So for the first time in my life, I took actual driving lessons. During my first driving lesson, my instructor assessed my baseline skills. I thought I did great on that drive: I checked my mirrors, signalled on the round-a-bout, stayed clear of the bus lane, waited at the zebra and the pelican crossing, yielded at the traffic calming island, went 30 MPH through the speed camera, and dodged the cyclists.
Then he gave me my evaluation. The list of infractions was lengthy. There were major and minor errors. I was embarrassed. And then thank-you pregnancy hormones, I cried. Then I was really embarrassed about crying; so I cried more.
In Texas, I operated on cruise control, distracted and carefree- both in my driving and my lifestyle. I might have been driving for over a decade, but mostly down straight 3-4 lane highways without speed cameras, suicidal pedestrians, and cyclists. I wasn’t as aware of my surroundings. I wasn’t as intentional about my journey. You just don’t have to be in Texas.
After immigrating, I have become more focused. I have been taking lessons in things I have been doing for years: from driving to parenting to marriage to being a friend. Ted talks, conversations with friends, journaling, church, hearing the stories of strangers, and people watching have all been apart of this re-examination and assessment of my life, priorities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Before I moved, my mentor Cathy, who hosts this amazing blog, and who also lived abroad, said the beautiful thing about starting over in a new place is that you get to construct and design your life from scratch. It’s hard work. It makes you sort out your junk: both material and emotional. You realise hauling worthless baggage- both material and emotional- 5,000 miles away just isn’t worth it.
So even though you and I have driven a car, or parented, or been married, or been exercising, or worked as a professional for X number of years, it doesn’t actually mean we are doing it well. Take some time. Get a driving instructor or a life coach. Find a mentor, a friend, a neighbour, or a good book. Have someone hold you accountable, be honest with you, and tell you how you can navigate your journey safer or with more confidence or to a better destination.
The final part of my driving exam is tomorrow. Wish me luck.
While I’m at it, here’s two other odd pictures: