So one of my goals of turning 40 has been to check some long overdue items off the proverbial bucket list without turning things into a full-blown mid-life crisis. Niagara Falls, Egypt, getting back on stage, taking fitness (reasonably) seriously; so far, I’m doing pretty well. That said, there was one major outlier that’s been literally 24 years in the making.
I grew up in downtown Toronto my whole life and never, ever, really had the desire to drive. Well, maybe a little, but I had resigned myself to being okay without doing it. Plus, like many things that happened in my teen years, if I wasn’t good at it right away, I wasn’t super interested. I wasn’t, so I didn’t, and as the years went by, me grabbing rides from people and figuring out bus schedules just became the norm.
Over the years, it’s started to bother me. It started as missing out on legit job opportunities after leaving ships, but before teaching. Then, there were travel opportunities that I missed out on abroad because I couldn’t drive there and it was too crazy to try to get local transit there. So after a long time, I figured I’d bite the bullet and get the ball rolling. Or, in this case, the car.
This whole process actually started in 2014, when I snagged my G1, the learner’s permit of Ontario’s not-in-one-shot licensing system. About a year after that and three fails into the G2 test (AVOID THE TORONTO EAST TESTING CENTRE!), snagged the G2 in Etobicoke. At some point, I (mis)heard an instructor saying “you can renew your G2 as much as you like and never actually have to take your G”, which I interpreted as “I can be a G2 driver forever, all I have to do is submit a form.”
Turns out, you have exactly five years to complete the whole process, or you get booted down to the bottom of the mountain again. So with my complete expiry coming in just a few months, it was time to get rolling. In the car.
I had driven intermittently from getting the G2 until now, so I needed a refresher, which I got from the Canadian Tire Driver’s Academy and Amit, who was a pretty awesome instructor, in that he was able to teach me to do things, which isn’t always easy. Zipcar has been awesome (you can rent one with a G2!) for practicing, getting out of a road for an hour at a time here and there, working on manoeuvres. Big part of the G2 Exit test is highway driving, which sounds scary, but actually tracks better than being on Queen Street during rush hour.
Knowing I could redo my G2 test and kick the can down the road another five years, I decided “what the heck” and went for the full G, getting my hands on a road test date at the first reasonably-close DriveTest location. Which was Woodstock. An hour and a bit away from Toronto. So, not too reasonably close. But the next dates I could get in Toronto were bumping into mid-February, which was going to put me in danger of falling into the “take your next test in 10 days if you fail” window, which would have me knocked down the ladder again. So, Woodstock it was.
Today was the day.
I had driven through Woodstock a few times before and made it there with plenty of time to spare today, making a stop in Brantford to visit the grave of my grandparents, which I haven’t done nearly enough. Pulled into the DriveTest centre and immediately taped a piece of paper one of my kids made me yesterday, as Teacher Kirk was able to work in his own life lesson when my Teacher Candidate was doing a lesson of “How do you not give up, even when it’s hard?” Basically, I spilled my guts about being nervous, not doing well on the previous tests, but still had to know how to drive. Blows kids minds to see an adult who can’t drive. So a few of the kids made me good luck letters, one of which was taped on the rear parking camera.
Which, according to my examiner when he entered the car, I didn’t have to do. Since they’re standard now, it’s basically considered an extra window, and you can use it.
Now, this gave me the chance to put on the charm offensive and explain why I had a yellow crayon piece of writing taped to my dash. Knew I was good enough to pass, but let’s get the kind and fuzzies out there. My examiner seemed like a nice guy, nice enough to take points off my parallel park attempt, which was not near the curb, but so long as you don’t hit it, you don’t fail. Highway merge was fine, three point turn and emergency stop were fine, lane changes were fine and FINE-A-LY, I GOT MY OFFICIAL G LICENSE!!!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not buying a car anytime soon. But the idea of renting one to go hiking, or visit my nieces and nephews more often, things like that. Kind of appealing. So once more, a door opens at mid-life.
One of the first things I did was text my family, and my mom texted back “Congratulations! Life begins at 40!” Followed by a lot of heart emojis.
I’m learning cars, she’s learning emojis. Age aint nothing but a number.