I don’t parallel park.
That’s not entirely true. I will parallel park if there are two spots available so I can nose in and
I have issues.
You’ve heard of Pavlov’s Dogs. The guy – Pavlov, of course – trained the dogs to salivate by ringing a bell every time he fed them. Soon they salivated at the sound of a bell. After having a huge, slobbering creature dog (pun intended) my heels every time I set foot in my kitchen for seven years, I’m not so impressed. I think training dogs to salivate is kind of crazy, why not train children to do chores at the ding of a bell?
So this Pavlov thing factors into my parallel parking anxiety. When I see a lone parking spot that would require proper technique I break out in a sweat.
My father, Pat, taught me to parallel park.
He wasn’t the first to attempt. Let’s just say I was remedial.
I was chosen to take the actual physical driving test for the state because my Driver’s Education driving grades left a lot to be desired. If my instructor had been a little less spastic with the multiple usages of the passenger safety brakes I’d have done better.
Pat was irritated that I hadn’t mastered parallel parking. My brothers were in the car which always intensified Pat’s frustration level, not to mention mine.
Pat has this endearing quirk – he expects people to understand what he means with the minimum of explanation. When he gets a “duh” response he repeats the identical instructions with a bit more passion.
My brothers wrestled in the back seat as I jockeyed into parallel parking position. Poised, ready to go, I waited.
Pat said, “Turn the wheel.”
It occurred to me as cars whizzed past and a sweat beaded on my upper lip that there are two ways to turn the wheel. “Uh, which way?”
Pat sucked in a deep breath and forced a smile and explained with enough detail that I got step one nailed. Then said, “Turn.”
I looked at him, no doubt, like I assumed the strange word that popped out of his mouth was Swahili. He shot me a concentrated glare and increased volume. “Turn.”
It was a long afternoon.
I can announce proudly that I did learn to perfectly parallel park, once. And I left the Driver’s License Bureau with a card with a horrific picture of someone who was supposed to be me.
Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.