Middle Aged Driving

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by Kelly Jackson

How midlife driving differs: I live in a neighborhood of blue-haired drivers, and I'm beginning to understand them. This is both dangerous and frightening. Back in the day, when I found myself going 20 in a 35 mph zone, it was because I had just taken the last puff off a big fatty with my friends in the car, and it never occurred to me that my mental state had been altered in such a way as to emulate the blue-hairs.

Now-a-days, my patience level has replaced the haze of THC in my brain, and I applaud those who take their time on the road. Of course, after living and driving in Manhattan for 12 years, I also appreciate those lunatics who pull out of a strip mall, flying across oncoming traffic to swerve into my lane about 6 inches in front of my car. "Nice NY cabbie move," I say to myself. After being captive in the back seat of many a NY cab, I know that when it's your chance, you must take it, seize the day, make your move and hope for the best.

The purest example of this was when my NY cabbie was in the far right lane of a 5-lane, one way street on 2nd Avenue and wanted to turn LEFT when the light turned green. I was pissed off because I knew where I wanted him to go, but he had obviously missed his opportunity and I was late. How silly of me. He studied the cross-street light, knowing more about split-second moves than a cat with his tail on fire. I could tell from watching his head bob and weave as he studied the scene that he'd been driving all night on speed and crack and was in no mood for pansy-assed weenies who were going to 'do the right thing' when the light changed. I braced myself, held my breath, and as the cross-street light turned yellow in anticipation of ours turning green, he made his move, tires screeching black rubber on the pavement. "Hold on!" he said. The stunned drivers on our left were only just lifting foot off brake toward the gas pedal and their forward progress. He had turned left, pulled to the curb and turned off his meter as he fist-pumped the air in triumph before they knew what had hit'em (or hadn't). When I realized that I was still alive by exhaling a month's worth of old air, we both burst into triumphant laughter. With wobbly knees and Jello legs, I exited the cab, gave him a $20 tip and said, "Nice move."

Things have changed over the years. The other day I found myself sitting behind a young woman at a red light in the early morning on our ways to work. She had obviously left her house on the fly forgetting a few things. I watched as she adjusted the rearview mirror toward her face and proceeded to put on her mascara. I was mesmorized as she deftly moved the mascara wand gently up and down over and over. Of course the light had changed to green before she ever got to the left eye, but I didn't honk, I didn't scream and I didn't jam her back bumper for fear of blinding her. I just waited. Just as our light was turning yellow, she realized that she was in a car and not in front of her vanity mirror in the bathroom. She hit the gas and waved to me, still with mascara wand in hand, in thanks for my patience as if it was the most normal thing one would do in a car in traffic.

You can tell who the aliens are in my town, those who have moved here to change it into the same place they left in frustration. They honk at the slightest insult to their own driving habits and assume that they own their patch of road. It is actually illegal where I live, to honk unless one is in "imminent danger." They don't care. They're in a hurry, they're late, they are driving under the influence of rudeness. I just giggle and wait.

I will do almost anything to avoid getting on a freeway, consequently, I know every 'alternate route' known to man or woman. But I also know every beautiful neighborhood with canopies of trees, squirrels crossing the street, kids in strollers and birds flying low alongside my car as we both gently wind our way with the currents of the wind to our destination. I find myself looking at the birds and saying, "Nice move."

Kelly Jackson is a 'Jill of all Trades and a Mistress of None.' She has owned three small businesses, worked as a medical transcriptionist, assisted the daughter of a late President of the United States and a media guru who ran two successful campaigns for another being a democrat and the other a republican. Ms. Jackson is a fifty-five-year-old certified yoga instructor living in Austin, Texas. She has been divorced "a time or two" and presently resides with her sister and their mother, for whom she and her sister serve as baby-boomer caregivers.

Kelly is a writer; she's finished her first novel, a comic mystery called, A Texan Goes to Nirvana and is now working on a midlife guide book with her sister, Sally Jackson with a working title of, The Midlife Gals' Guide to Shenanigans and Middle-aged Tomfoolery. Kelly and Sally have a blog entitled, The MidLife Gals, upon which the book essays are based. Kelly's next book, a yoga instructional tome is entitled, Yoga For Smokers, Drinkers, Meat Eaters and Non-Believers.

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