On occasion, I have alluded to the fact that I do not drive. When I refer to my fearless driver as “my driver” it is because that is an exclusive position. I do not drive. I haven’t driven for almost a decade. Instead, I lived in metropolitan areas where I could walk to work and social life could be served via mass transit.
The one time I saw a therapist, they suggested I have PTSD. I suppose I would suggest that they are vulnerable to jumping to conclusions. I haven’t been under constant threat…any more than any person who walks to and from work. But I have been hit by cars, twice. I still remember, the second time, as my feet left the pavement with the impact of the SUV to my hip, thinking: “not again.”
So, yes, driving has some painful connotations. I am agonizingly aware of the potential harm I (or, frankly, anyone) could do to another living thing if I messed up. Both drivers who hit me, in their own way, felt they needed to be clear that they had never hit someone before—that my landing on their hood was a completely foreign experience. I don’t know if I was supposed to feel special? I suppose it was an easier excuse to make than expressing any sense of responsibility while I lay in the hospital, medicated, recovering from a concussion, and internally bleeding around my brain. It took a few days as the medication to wore off, the shock to subside, and the pain to set in for me to feel frustrated by the assumption that the problem was that, this time, their screwup actually had consequences. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time that either of them turned left without paying attention to potential pedestrian. Plenty of people speed or drive distracted and then get angry on the rare time that they get busted—as if what they were doing was an isolated act that only had the potential to effect them.
Yes, I think too much about this. And so I don’t drive. And yet, here I am on a road trip which has spanned over a year. I live out of a truck. I sleep in the truck bed. I write in the passenger seat as we wind down the highway. But the caveat is: I don’t drive and I have found an impeccably cautious driving companion.
Well, I don’t drive on paved streets. I’m trying to deal with my issues and I do that on the unpaved 4-wheeling trails of the National Parks. (I have maintained my drivers license.) Each time we come to a new park, we find the most scenic dirt road, and I drive it. There is a greater presence and awareness of the truck as I bob along the uneven surfaces of the road. I have an excuse to roll at speeds under 30 miles per hour as I sink into the rhythms of the engine and the tight spring of the shocks. I am conscious of the dimensions of the truck as I navigate between narrow gaps of encroaching sage brush. I feel capable in a way that will not hurt so much as a badger or a buffalo that may wander across my path. Both have.
Maybe, some time soon, I will be ready to face more human challenges and pace my driver over long sprints. For the moment, though, I’ll stick with my gravel paths.