It’s a brilliant Sunday morning in September. We’re sitting side by side in my mom’s bronze, four-door Mazda 626 in the empty parking lot. The engine’s idling, the car is firmly in park with my foot is pressing hard on the brake pedal.
“Ready?” he asks
“Um, yeah. I think so,” I say. I shift the car into Drive and gingerly lift my foot from the brake.
“Give it a little gas,” he says. I do and the car lurches forward like an overly ambitious toddler taking his first steps. I quickly slam on the brakes and we both whip back in our seats, our seatbelts yanking tight.
“Rule number one,” says my dad. “Always wear a seatbelt. Okay, let’s try again.”
Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri in the mid-80s meant I was eligible for a full driver license at 16. A few months before my birthday, my dad and I embarked on a series of weekend driving lessons, commandeering empty lots and deserted side streets. As an overly eager teen, I figured a few quick tutorials was all I needed to hit the road. Turns out I had a lot to learn.