28 years ago her aunt sat in a very different Volvo and had to learn to drive a manual transmission in a matter of minutes. Patre might have been 16, but I was only 15 and my parents were willing to loan the car if she could drive it. Nothing motivates teenagers who long for some alone time someplace away from their parents like the freedom of a car!
Yesterday Susie was driving an updated version of that Volvo down a country road while we hunted for ice cream. This time she is 15 and well I’m a much older 44! She knows the car will be hers one day. The summer job has been helping her save money for the day she turns 16 and has to pay for fuel and a bit of her insurance. I’m not going to need to car, and since I’m anal retentive about maintaining this thing; she’ll not have to worry about those issue. The dealer knows to eventually send the maintenance bill to the lawyer [yeah, that whole estate planning thing. She couldn’t afford to pay if something big happened, teenagers!]
There no manual to worry about. The car has every safety option they sell. And like most people in Massachusetts, a grey Volvo won’t surprise anyone. So I get to be a hero for one last time.
Amusingly I let her friends come along. A few are 16 already and have their licenses, this one barely has her learner’s permit. I even put one of those giant red “L”s on the back window for people to know they should be cautious.
The fun thing about a bunch of teenage girls in a car is the music choices. I hate Justin Bieber! Most modern pop music all sounds the same to me. Oh, I did mention I dislike Justin Bieber, right? As long Susie can hear me yell stop, we’re good. [bonus, those seizures that still pop up from time to time? The ones that make hearing things difficult? Right now I’m slightly thankful for them.]
Susie knows all of the stories about her aunt. At least the ones she should know, I get a few to keep private. So she also knows I’m the one who taught her to drive a manual transmission. What she doesn’t know is that we drive some of the same streets today that we did 3 decades ago.
There are some ghosts that float around me and they scare me. Memories of people and events that haunt my waking hours as well as those when my eyes are gently shut for the night. This isn’t one of those times.
That night, my parents would have easily driven is to the movies or any other place we wanted to go. They also could have given us the keys to the car with an automatic transmission, but my dad was not parting with his 2 door convertible for crazy teenagers!
Just like that day, I held Susie’s hand and told her that as long as she was sure of her actions everything would be great. Back then I might have made a few dirty jokes, today it is about building a confident young lady.
As I looked over that ghost of her aunt was looking back with the same smile. The same eyes but slightly darker hair. I couldn’t have been more grateful for the time her parents have allowed me to have. [I also taught her father to drive stick, just on a different Volvo!]
I know I don’t talk about the parts of life I’m grateful for having. It’s a shame that I don’t look at the world quite the same anymore. I see the rainbows and all the colors, they just don’t bring out those same emotions.
Yeah, I bought ice cream and sodas, a couple of sandwiches for later. We ate the ice cream there and I have no idea what they did with the rest.
The sound of their laughter was everything. It kept the bad away and brought back all that was good.