Our Culture of Drive
Do you drive?
There’s an old joke:
A Texan is talking with an Israeli and comparing the size of Texas to the size of Israel. He says, “when I get in my car, I can drive for hours and not get to the end of my ranch.” The Israeli says, “I had a car like that once too.”
Most of the people I know drive and take their driving for granted. Unless you live in a packed urban area where the cost of keeping a car outweighs the access it will provide, most people have a car, or two, or sometimes three. I think my friend Margie is the only person I know that doesn’t drive. New condos and apartments that are being built in my neighborhood have huge parking structures because nobody will rent unless two spaces come with each apartment. Our culture is fixated on driving. Having a driver’s license is a sign of growing up and a symbol of independence.
My father has been driving since he was 15. At 84, we recently made the decision for him to stop driving. It was a difficult decision and took a long time to reach. His reflexes were not as quick and frankly, it wasn’t that we didn’t trust him, we didn’t trust other younger drivers. The possibility that he and my mom might be seriously hurt while out on a joyride in Los Angeles, a city already known for overcrowded traffic, was a scary proposition. While he understands it intellectually, driving occurs as like ‘phantom limb’ syndrome. He keeps thinking he can just jump in the car to pick something up, until he remembers there’s no car.
One of my recent clients was still driving at the age of 98. In a section of her video, we filmed her driving in her car and telling us how much she enjoyed being in her car. She drove a cherry red newer model cadillac and being in the car with her behind the wheel was a real adventure. Unfortunately she too has stopped driving now after some medical concerns limited her mobility.
My friends and I called my first car the “Flintstone mobile” because there was a huge hole in the floorboard and you could see the road go by underneath you. I loved that car and was sorry to see it go. I can only imagine what that might be like, to have to give up something that we hold as an inalienable right in our culture. Something that most of us could do, and some of us unfortunately do, in our sleep.
What does driving symbolize to you? Have you thought about what your life would be like if you couldn’t drive, or drive as much as you currently do? I’d love to know some of your memories.
Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.