Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Behind the Wheel: Driving in Ohio & New York

It was New Year's Eve, and I was behind the wheel for maybe the third or fourth time in 2010.

In Brooklyn, I drive the car a few blocks here and there -- to park, to get groceries or to run other small errands. My highway driving is now few and far between. Nevertheless, there I was in Columbus on Dec. 31, on Interstate 670 heading west toward Hilliard.

I was completely sober -- I'd been downing water and cranberry juice like nobody's business at the party we had attended. Still, I was afraid I appeared drunk from my sheer inexperience. I'm not sure, however, a cop would have accepted that as an excuse.

It didn't take long to find my feet, as it were. The 300 miles I drove -- getting us about halfway through Pennsylvania -- the following Sunday on our return to New York took care of that. Still, it's odd not being completely comfortable behind the wheel each and every time I take the driver's seat.

When we visited Peter Luger in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg last month for Paul's birthday, Paul drove. As we walked to the car, it occurred to me that this was the first time we had ever driven the car in New York strictly to go to a restaurant. What a special occasion! In Columbus -- at least in our old neighborhood of Galloway -- it would have been strange to walk. Of course, this isn't true of all Columbus neighborhoods, but I think it's more the rule than the exception.

I don't miss driving, but I do miss the convenience. I miss the warm air of the heater blowing in my face during bitter winter morning commutes. I miss the "All Things Considered" jingle on my way home.

I don't miss getting gas two or three times a week. That's just as annoying as I remembered.

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