An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

13 October 2009

A case of very fine steering

My Da taught me how to drive when I was sixteen and we were in California. When I went back to the Philippines, I still lacked practice, and thus practiced on the car of whatever boyfriend I had, at night, after dates, on the private roads of subdivisions whose residents have long gone to bed. I could make mistakes and not kill anybody, I didn’t have to stay on my own lane, and I didn’t have to obey any traffic rules. I thought I did pretty good.

But when Da came home, I still wasn’t a good enough driver. It was only after a while that I realized that it’s not the practice on deserted roads with the freedom and ignorance of a four-year-old that makes a driver. It’s the daily nitty-gritty of driving through many different roads amid constricting situations and still arrive unscathed that makes a driver.

They say we get the habits of our teachers. I never got the driving habits of my boyfriends who taught me how to drive, in their own teenaged way, but I did get some of my Da’s habits. Perhaps he was really the only one who taught me how to drive.

Once, years ago, as a new driver with a student’s permit, I was plowing through traffic and barely missed another car that was backing up. Da, on the passenger side, just said, “Oops,” and didn’t say anything for five minutes. I knew he was disappointed, and I felt bad. And then he said, “No matter how much you know the road you’re on, no matter how perfect your driver’s instincts have become, you still need to be unfamiliar with that road in certain ways, because sometimes that’s the only way you can keep a sense of defense when driving.”

I nodded, but couldn’t say a word. And then after a while, he added, “You can only steer finely when you can really see both what is there and what isn’t there.”

Little did he know that on that day, he has given me a mantra for going through the relationships of the rest of my life. Men are roads that I must travel.

Thank you, Da. Happy birthday. And Happy October 13.

[Previous posts about Da: 1, 2]

[Image credits: 1, 2]


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