Yesterday afternoon, I was out and about, and before I knew it, it was dark and I had to drive home through it. The time change brought sunset much sooner than I’d planned on. It also started to rain. That’s a killer combo for me. The wet roads magnify my inability to figure out where to aim the nose of the car. I can’t see well in the dark, having a good case of “night blindness,” which keeps me off the road at night—at least when I’m behind the wheel. I can still go out, for goodness sake. I can still leave the house when Jason is driving, or a friend gives me a ride. It’s not like I’m that old yet. (Of course, as a mega introvert, I don’t really go out. It just sounds more normal to say so.)
The night blindness is definitely not a thing from aging, because I learned about it pretty early on when I started driving. In high school, one night I was coming home from community orchestra, driving on a permit with my dad in the seat next to me. He was a low key driving teacher-slash-coach. He’d taken me to a parking lot to teach me to drive and had me stop and start, and drive circles all over that blacktop. We were in an old car without power steering, so I got a good work out. And I learned how to turn corners. He was relaxed and cool about the whole process. Nothing like I was for my kids. I hated teaching them to drive more than anything I had to do as a parent. Ever. Really. I hated it. And I’m sure they hated me doing it. I was a wreck. Because I was petrified we’d have a wreck. When we’d finish a driving session, I could barely walk because my right leg was shaking so badly from jamming it constantly against the floorboard on my imagined brake pedal. Plus of course, there was the shaking from the sheer terror. And I had to do it FOUR TIMES. I'd finish Lesson One with the first one, then I'd have to get back in the car and do it all over again. THREE MORE TIMES. I’m telling you, I hated it.
That night when I was driving with my dad home after orchestra, we were coming down a long, steep hill (east on Fillmore from Mesa, for in-towners), then over a bridge (where the new funky bridge is now) that passed above the interstate. I needed to left turn across the oncoming lane to access the onramp that merged down onto the interstate. Without a whole lot of worry, when the oncoming traffic cleared, I cranked the wheel to make my left turn. Suddenly, my dad had a hold of the steering wheel. “What are you doing?” he cried out. He yanked the wheeled and jerked us back into our lane.
“Going onto the ramp?” I said, confused.
“It’s over there!” He pointed about fifty feet ahead of us, gasping and with eyes so wide that even I could see them. What I thought was the onramp was a path into airspace. I was driving us right off the center of the overpass into nothingness above the traffic below. I was pulling a Thelma and Louise. No wonder he broke character and grabbed the wheel with a shriek!
So last night, when I finally pulled my car safely into my spot in the garage, I was relieved. I was glad to be home, and I was reminded once again why I don’t drive at night. It’s just not very fun to drive when you can’t see where the road goes.
Want my stories delivered right to your inbox? I can do that! Click the button below to sign up and I'll make sure to send my post right to you each day that I blog.