Friday night, I spent a romantic evening with my husband…trying to learn how to drive his car. He’s been trying to convince me to give the five-speed Honda another try for the past, oh, most of our marriage. The current arguments are: (1) I have a longer commute and his car gets better gas mileage, (2) What if he was driving his car and was suddenly rendered unconscious…how would I get him to the hospital?, and (3) Once I learn, driving a manual will be really, really fun. To which, I have replied: it’s not THAT much farther of a drive, this is what cell phones and good Samaritans are for, and NO, I will not…because I cannot.
You see, we’ve been down this road before. The first lesson in negotiating a manual transmission occurred about five years ago. It began with Scott patiently explaining the whole clutch to gas balance and ended with me walking away. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I may or may not have been crying sobbing hysterical AND I may or may not have left the engine on and allowed the wretched car to coast down a hill with my husband still in the passenger seat.
Ok, so all of that actually happened. Scott pulled the emergency brake and both he and the car were fine, but I was traumatized. It’s just so complicated! Clutch in, shift gear, gas in, clutch out slowly…no, crap, killed it. Ok, now I have to start it…attempt 1, attempt 2, attempt 3…ok, it’s started. Now, clutch in, shift gear, gas in, clutch out slowly…dang it! I let off the gas. Killed it AGAIN. Eventually, I managed to get to first gear and drive around the circle part of my in-law’s driveway. Then, Scott decided that it was time to tackle second gear. Off we went down the driveway (this is the country, it’s a long driveway), I attempt to shift and kill the bleepity bleepin’ machine for what feels like the 700th time. I now have the choice of trying to reverse the car all the way back up the driveway or negotiating a 3-point turn. Scott suggests a 3-point turn, and it is 6 attempted starts, some tears, and a suggestion from Scott to “try to calm down” later that I choose to exit the vehicle. With him still in it. Rolling down a hill.
So, Friday. Because my husband is persistance itself, I somehow find myself back in the driver’s seat of my nemesis. I make a big show of rolling my eyes at the futility of this entire enterprise, then listen as Mr. Engineer explains the whole process once more. He’d left the engine running for me, so all I had to do was shift it into first…which I did. Okokok, it was little shaky, but it worked. Interesting. We circle the parking lot at an impressive 15 mph, then he has me stop and shift into first again. Which I do. Again. By the end of the lesson, I’ve managed to get it up to second and I only killed it once. That went much better than I imagined. Huh.
When Scott and I drive to and from Kansas (a 15 hour drive…so much fun!), we normally take the Interstate-only route up to St. Louis and then across Missouri. Just for a change, however, one time we decided to take the state highways across the southern half of Missouri. It was all sunshine and happiness until we neared the Illinois border…when we had to cross the Mississippi River. Um, my goodness. Why Grandma, what a scary, steep, two-lane bridge going over a gigantic river you have! I suggest to Scott that we find a different route that goes ANYWHERE ELSE. Anywhere else except over this bridge…
Of course we go over the bridge. Do you want to know what’s past the big, scary bridge? A right-hand turn into an only slightly less scary bridge over the Ohio River. Augh! Clearly, we survived both…and have told stories about the scary bridges for years. Then, for some reason I can’t remember, it makes sense last year to drive the southern route instead of the northern route through Missouri. I spend 5 hours in fear. We get to the scary bridge, and…it’s not that bad. I mean, it’s no picnic, but it’s better than I’d imagined. Huh.
There is a point, and it’s this: I sincerely hope the marathon will be one more experience I can place in this category. That I keep up with the training, listen to the Marathon Expert when she tells me to slow down, and cross the finish line thinking, “wow, this wasn’t so bad.” Painful, sure. Scary, absolutely. Requiring hard work and dedication, duh. But NOT impossible…because sometimes, I will admit to you…impossible is what it seems.