as soon as i learned to walk, my mother says i ran. i ran, without fear, straight down our hill and into our lake until the water swallowed me up and my mother fished me out.
to keep me safe, my mother and i took infant swim lessons together. so i learned to swim as i learned to walk. i cannot remember not knowing how to walk or to swim.
the same is true for ice skating. we had a lake house, so once stable on my feet, skates were strapped to them and i learned to balance and glide. i cannot remember a time when i didn’t feel as comfortable on blades as i do in sneakers.
not the case when it came to riding a bike or driving a car. i clung to my big wheel until my parents cringed with embarrassment. my little brother saw my awesome blue raleigh bike sitting day after day unused and taught himself to ride almost instantly. i did not want to ride a bike. so i walked...until i was annoyed that my friends flew by me in a blur and could slyly travel far past the blocks our parents considered our ”bounds”. only with great reluctance did i learn to ride a bicycle. great reluctance and great difficulty. many times i fell or never even peddled before my bicycle toppled over. once mastered, i never loved it. only grudgingly did i ride.
my grudging reluctance repeated with driving a car. i was young in my class anyway...being in a car made me sick... my mother had a LOT of accidents. so generally when i rode in a car i was sick and scared. i didn’t want to drive.i procrastinated and refused to sit behind the wheel. so again, my little brother learned to drive before me, my parents gave him a car and he was told to drive me around. he did not.
getting around in a midwestern town without a vehicle was a drag. and often very cold. but i still rejected driving. i was twenty-seven before i got my driver’s license. when i came home from college or even after, i would bump into friends from highschool and they never failed to ask "did you ever learn to drive?”
in the end, i somehow managed to learn to drive. i spent a summer at my parent’s house taking care of my (then) baby nieces and it wasn’t safe to have a caretaker that couldn’t drive or run to the library or take them to soccer etc. being without a driver’s license was no longer a charming quirk...i had to become a licensed driver.
i went far away from home to take my test. in a small town south of the city where i lived, i sat in the waiting room with pimply teenagers, angsty and anxious for freedom, those freakish kids looked at me like i was the weirdo. it was deep in a minnesota winter and i remember i had to parallel park between snow banks. i was stunned and elated to pass the test on my first try. i think everyone else was equally stunned, but more relieved than elated. i was finally normal...
somethings we learn because we want the ability to do them...maybe we are not so good at it at first but then it gets easier, better... often when we excel at something, we enjoy it even more. other things we just have to learn. we may never enjoy them, but simply mastering the task is the goal. once mastered we may never do it again. sometimes we just need to check off a box, complete a rite of passage or pass a drivers test.