Reading a post on my friend kakka's blog brought back memories of how much I once loved to drive. You know - before it became a means of getting to work, the kids to school, the shopping done. When it was a pleasure, pure and unadulterated, before it became... a chore.
My love of driving was a gift from my grandmother. She had her motor vehicle licence until around twelve months prior to her death at nearly 91. She drove for the pure joy of growing up in the motor era - all whilst still clearly recalling her childhood of the much slower horse and buggy travel. My early years consisted of going for drives after school nearly every day. She would pull up out front of our house, toot the horn, and with a clatter down the timber stairs and a "See ya Mum!" I'd be out the gate and into the back seat.
Usually she would have a snack of disgustingly good tasting, bad for you food such as hot baked potatoes and crispy bacon in a pie dish covered in tin foil. Saturated in salt and dripping with oil, they tasted SO good! Off we'd drive. Sometimes we'd drop in and pick up one of my school chums, sometimes not. All my friends loved Grandma, that's what they all called her, Grandma. One cheeky boy even called her yeehaw Grandma. They clamoured to be included in our schoolday jaunts, or fought even harder to be asked for the Sunday Drive. Her grey Chrysler Valiant was constantly filled to the brim with a bunch of giggling kids, no seat belts, merrily singing at the top of our lungs:
"We don't care who we bump, unless we bump the wall!"
Whilst the weekday runs were shorter by necessity, the Sunday excursions could be far longer. Half or full day trips, off to the city, over to a theme park, wherever our hearts desired. It was always discussed earlier in the week, usually on one of our briefer escapades. Destination decided, plans made, we then organised departure times, supplies and finally chose the lucky partners in adventure. Oh, those fun-filled, free days.
Roles reversed as I grew old enough to drive myself. Grandma herself often taught me, or more to the point was the licenced driver when I had my learner's permit. Never did I suffer awkward days of stumbling, fumbling, or beginner bumbling as I memorised road rules, or took control of the vehicle. Driving was in my blood, ingrained from years of backwoods meandering sitting in the rear seat of her plush, grey sedan.
Then came the days when Grandma grew frailer, and I became her source of escape, her chauffeur, the driver. By this point I was living in the bustling city, studying at Uni, part-time bar work at night. My times at home were briefer, but still as frequent as I could physically manage. Many nights I drove the city, unwinding, deep in thought, music blaring as I sorted through my life.
Until one day came the drive I was dreading, my final trip to farewell my beloved Grandma. I did not lose my love of the drive that night, in fact many times over the next year or so my travels helped me deal with the loss of my elderly companion. It was the onslaught of career, marriage, and then children which made driving my cares away no longer an easily attainable option.
This evening I shall go for a drive by myself purely for indulgence. And as I once more meander darkened country roads, I know Grandma will be right there beside me in spirit. And if I listen very carefully I will be able to hear a frail voice singing: "I don't care who we bump.." as we quietly drive through the still of the night.