Do you ever get that urge to just run away? Or like you are about to explode with anger for no reason? Ever feel like you are so swamped with work from school that you want to quit college, just for a minute? These are all urges induced by stress. We all find ways to escape in order to gather ourselves, even if it is just for a little while. I live in an apartment in Brooklyn and share a bedroom with my little sister which is a huge stress factor in my life. I didn’t have many options when I was a young teen. Where was a young girl like me supposed to go when I had had enough? Public transportation never appealed to me. I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, so the only thing I could do was go outside and hang out on the block with my neighborhood friends.
But I yearned to be off by myself once in a while and taking a long walks on cold winter days just didn’t cut it. I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could just take off and leave when I really felt the need, instead of staying home in a place where a fight was bound to break out. Then I turned 17 my grandpa decided to teach me how to drive. Next thing I knew I had my license and I was off! My life had changed completely. It was now my source of stress relief, and on top of that it enabled me to expand my social life by traveling to more places out of Brooklyn where the party scene was more appealing. Now I could get in my grandpa’s old car and cut through the air at exhilarating speeds with the wind in my hair and my rock music blasting. I was free as a bird.
Everyone has their little method of chilling out and relaxing and driving is mine. Jeff Greenwald gave a great example in Health magazine when he discussed Zen driving. He said that the feeling begins the moment you enter your car, and settle yourself…at that point the car becomes an extension of yourself. Your tires should feel like the bottom of your shoe, and the rear-view mirror becomes your third eye. This is exactly how I release all that pent up tension. My car and I fuse into one and I forget about what I was doing before, I don’t think about my destination, all that matters is what I am doing at that moment. I admit I do on occasion take my anger out on the road but I would NEVER put someone else’s life at stake. That’s why I am usually out driving at weird hours of the night when there isn’t many others out there on the road with me. I like to speed. I like to go on the New York thruway and push that poor peddle of my grandpas Buick past its limits. I may never have driven faster than 100 miles an hour, but I think I’ll save the faster speeds for the day I become a race car driver.
According to the website of Department of Motor Vehicles of New York State there are 3,327,441 licensed drivers in NYC in 2003. I am one of those drivers. Maybe I am not the only one that likes to drive so much. But I try to be responsible because New York City seems to be famous for bad drivers and just because I am careful doesn’t mean the guy next me is. I say guy because a common stereotype is that women are horrible drivers compared to men I think everyone should be able to make their own decisions only after they have reviewed the facts. According to the DMV of the State of New York in the year 2001, men aged 18-24 were responsible for more than three times the amount of fatal car accidents as women aged 18-24. Car accidents are a scary thing to consider but not something I put a lot of thought into when I first got my license, but seeing a number like 422 fatalities of young men and women in NYC alone isn’t something I take lightly.
The second way driving has impacted my life has been by allowing me to travel further with more ease and in comfort. Having a license takes away my dependence on others. I can call my friends; pick them up, and drive to a club in the city on any given night without having to worry about relying on someone else or about taking the train late at night. According to the MTA New York City Transit schedule, the F train which would normally take me about an hour to get to Manhattan from Brooklyn, runs every 20 minutes on late nights and weekends. But as many of you may have experienced this does not often turn out to be the case.
I have waited for several hours at times and when u are coming back from a club or bar and have a few drinks in you, I doubt you are in no mood to wait that long. That’s when some may resort to taking a cab, but not everyone could afford that luxury, and cab fares can add up if you go out frequently. Though I do have to pay the price of staying sober when I drive, I really don’t mind because it is not the most important thing in the world to me. When I drive I control pretty much everything, the only thing beyond my powers is traffic on the roads but with experience you learn there are plenty of ways to avoid it.
Basically I am content to know that I will always have the road to save me from boredom and distress. I will forever be indulging in the pleasures of driving, and no one will ever be able to take that away from me. At least I hope not.