Archive for July, 2018

Independence Day

Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2018 by amylawrencepxp

As the United States marked its 242nd birthday, a news report from the other side of the globe led me to contemplate independence in a way I never have before. In Saudi Arabia, women are now legally allowed to drive. The law was officially changed this summer, so women can finally get behind the wheel themselves and hold jobs that require driving. Several universities are offering classes to teach women how to drive. For the first time in Saudi history, females don’t have to rely on their husbands, brothers, fathers, friends or car services to run errands, go to work, and travel. Amazing! It’s wonderful to see pictures of women in the front seat with huge smiles on their faces as they revel in their new freedom.

And that’s what gave me pause: “new” freedom. As the Saudi kingdom became the last nation in the world to lift its ban on female drivers, I started to consider what my life would be like if I couldn’t drive. It wouldn’t remotely resemble what I have today. I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in sports radio, my passion for more than 20 years. Truth be told, I can’t imagine NOT having a car and a license. I’m incredibly thankful for this legal right that allows me to stay independent.

I can still clearly recall driving lessons with Mom in Concord, New Hampshire, before I turned 16. Since I played softball in the spring, I couldn’t take driver’s ed until a few months after my birthday. But Mom was determined to teach me how to navigate in the snow so we started early. She put me behind the wheel of our Nissan Sentra (stick shift) and told me it would get easier the more I practiced, ha. Thanks to her, before I ever took my official test, I was comfortable in the driver’s seat. Little did I know, those days were the foundation for a beautiful relationship: me and the open road.

Mom was tired of serving as taxi driver for me and my brother, so she instantly handed over the keys when I obtained my license. And I was immediately in LOVE! The road, the radio, the control, the FREEDOM to come and go on my own–it was my personal revolution. Not long after that, road trips became the norm. The next year, our family trekked from New England to Disney World for spring break, and I was thrilled when Mom let me drive. When she let me take the car, I drove to and from college in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then Syracuse, New York. While I was in school, I spent three weeks in the British Isles with a group of fellow students. One of my favorite memories is driving us all over Ireland–opposite side of the road and opposite side of the car! No one else would try, but I was fearless behind the wheel. I wanted the keys, and nothing’s changed since.

When I secured my first “real” job in Rochester, New York, I frequently drove east to get back home or west and south to visit Grandma in Ohio. We didn’t have a lot of money, and I certainly wasn’t earning much in local radio, so my first four vehicles were all hand-me-downs. I was extremely grateful for no car payment and great gas mileage! Two Sentras, one Plymouth Reliant, and one LEMON of a Honda Accord. They weren’t fancy; they all had a bunch of miles on them. But they might as well have been chariots of gold.

In 2003, I bought my first new car: a light blue Saturn ION with only 6,000 miles on it!! I saved for months, and I chose carefully. Mom took me to Cleveland for a test drive and then to sign the papers before I drove her off the lot. I named her Dixie, and she was a huge blessing. In ten years, I put 300,000 miles on that car (and captured the milestone on camera)! We fearlessly crisscrossed the northeast and the midwest, and I couldn’t have asked for a more reliable companion to get me through a decade of transition in my career. It wasn’t until I accepted the job with CBS Sports Radio in Manhattan that I let her go. I would’ve driven her another 100,000 miles with a bumper held on by duct tape and “racing stripes” from a cab who side-swiped me, except a stick shift in New York City traffic is the opposite of practical. It was easier to give her up when we found a police officer’s family who needed another vehicle. Dixie was a gift from heaven, and I prayed she would be as big a blessing to them as she was to me.

Of course, Mom came through again! This time, she gave me her 2002 Infiniti when she moved to Houston. In four years, I racked up more than 100,000 miles on the car, more than she logged in a decade. Isabella (Mom’s choice) was perfect for a city commute and weekend trips to DC to visit my nearest family members. With a career that requires chasing all over the country, it’s always been my car and the ability to drive that keeps me connected to the people I love. The Infiniti carried me safely to and from Connecticut for more than two years while I tried to sell my house. It’s also the first vehicle that I took all the way to Texas for Christmas vacation. So much fun–mostly because I could bring my dog with me!

Early July marked one year with Princess Leia, my Subaru Forester. I still can’t believe I get to drive her every day. She’s the second new car I’ve ever purchased, and I want to take her everywhere! So far, we’ve been to DC numerous times; to Western New York to visit friends; to Ohio and Houston (again) for family outings; and to South Carolina for a near-perfect beach vacation. I don’t mind flying when it’s required, but driving is a tonic.

What does independence mean to me? It’s the freedom to pursue the career of my choice. It’s the freedom to live on my own. It’s the freedom to travel so I can see family and friends. All of that is possible because I can get in my car and GO when and where I want. I’m so thankful for my independence as an American woman, and I’m thrilled women in Saudi Arabia can now taste some of the same freedom.

 

 

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