License to Drive

April 29, 2015

I have had two brief stints behind a wheel. The first was in the late 90s, when a tanned and tiny Mrs. da Silva tried to teach me to drive along the winding island roads of Bermuda. “Watch your speed,” she’d croak, as I’d accelerate above 25 mph. The car was a station wagon with wooden panels and I had to sit on three cushions just to see over the windscreen. My second round of lessons was a few years later in London with a guy called Carl who smelled of curry and turned green every time we neared a roundabout. I couldn’t get used to the clutch, the stop-start traffic, roundabouts or Carl’s scent. So I gave up on the idea of driving, moved to Toronto, and bought a bicycle instead. Once in a while, when I’m pushing two children with wet hair in the dead of winter uphill through Chinatown, I wish I had a car. But the rest of the time, I’m happy to walk. Or hail a Taxi. “Driving is a life skill,” I can hear my grandmother saying as she drove me to Mrs. da Silva all those years ago. But Yiayia –– I can swim and cycle and bake a cake from scratch –– surely, that counts for something? Of course, if this rolled into our rickety old garage, I’d be on the phone to Mrs. da Silva in a heartbeat.

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