I have a habit of auto piloting to familiar destinations. I tend to get behind someone and follow their path and pace until I realize I can go around them. Frustration becomes joy when I check the lane on my left, and slide over while speeding up. Sometimes I feel more creative and will zip in and out, weaving through traffic because somehow that feels good.
I used to hate driving. I wasn’t trying to get my license right away. In fact, I got my license the day I graduated high school at 18. It was a couple of years later than necessary. I didn’t want a license. I could just ask my parents to drop me off, pick me up and give me some spending money. I got my license and I would borrow my mom’s car until she bought me one. She valued her ability to pick up and go when she needed to. She kept finding and buying used cars for me because she understood my need for independence, even when I didn’t. I would let other people drive for me because I loved falling asleep while giving someone else control of my wheels.
Earlier this year I leased a car and for the first time in my life, I did it on my own. I went in and negotiated on my own. I set up a down payment and have been following through on my obligation without failure. The payments are larger than necessary, but I accepted terms I outlined. In fact, I only went 3 cents over my planned monthly expense. I love the independence I felt in doing so and I love driving now. I’ve only had one other person drive my car, and it was my niece who needed to take her driving test. I love sitting behind the wheel and being in control of my time and destination. I keep my car neater than I ever have, although she’s due for a deep vacuum session and detailed scrubbing.
I’ve been spending the last couple of days thinking about driving and the other controlled choices in my life. I have enough control to decide what route to take. I can take the scenic route. I can take the straight shot. I can look out the windows around me and catch a coastline or a hunky driver racing alongside me. I don’t have to focus intently on the car right in front of me, because I believe in a large amount of following distance that my peripheral vision can easily discern from the brief flitting glances at all of my surroundings.
I’m seeing the correlation in my dating life. Most men are still compared to the first crush I’ve had in a decade and a half. That crush had the benefit of my vivid imagination and I’m faced with the realities of knowing what is right in front of me is a game and I’m expected to lose. Most are given the full weight of thoughts that will beg my intuition to kick in. It always kicks in. It might take a day or two but it kicks in. It is the flinch that pulls me back instead of leaning into a kiss. It’s a look that lingers and shifts from soft desire to the hope of a guaranteed conquest and fills me with dread. It’s a tingle that crawls up my scalp while focusing on the eyes that can’t match the rest of the features I’m watching. It’s questioning motives and looking for meaning. I’m listening. I follow their script as they discuss wanting to tie me up, and live out a rape fantasy. I hear their choices and lack of leadership or empathy for others. I hear the fantasies of control and the push and pull of who holds it is a dance that I’m swaying to but these shoes aren’t for that dance and I am not ready for those blisters. I let them blather on about my smile and what pictures they like the most while I hear their lack of drive and determination. I hear their insecurities in trying to impress me because they can’t understand how I may already be impressed or talking to them out of boredom. I can’t offer my motives if I refuse to delineate between what I want, and what I want to entertain myself with. I hear their need to be desired and know it’s stronger than their need to connect on a mental and emotional level. I hear it and it’s fluffy noise. I want a companion that can become more. They want to fulfill the fantasies born in an album of vapid self indulgence that can’t capture the moods and thoughts that have slipped through my mind faster than they were able to make an introduction.
I change lanes. I don’t have to stay the course to the destination they have in mind because I’m in my own car and headed to my own escape and I don’t need permission or an escort to do what I have been doing. I’ve slipped into old habits of shuffling between conversations and switching lanes with the nausea of exhaust fumes clinging to my clothes. I shuffle them around and give the illusion that I’m playing their game by their rules but I’m in my car and looking to the traffic jam ahead of us. I’m plotting my lane changes and deciding on dinner because I have no problem eating alone. I can even take the streets. I’m not a player playing a game. I’m just two steps from becoming a pawn, but this game is familiar and the moves and rules haven’t changed. I’ll be fine with wind whipping through my hair and a radio to sing along to.