“And the river grows inside of me”

When it comes to driving there are three things I am most afraid of – a collision when I’m driving (I see the aftermath of these too often on the road to work), hitting an animal when driving (see road kill too much too), and crashing into one of my co-workers cars when parking at work. (Well, I fear crashing when parking all the time, but most keenly at work. I do not want to have to face one of my co-workers everyday knowing I smashed up their car. It’s not something that should or does happen.)

Guess which one occurred yesterday?

I drove into the work car park and there was a small crowd of people gathered at the smoking point there, a couple of them hanging in the road. I was too aware of them. I didn’t position myself properly and as I drove in to the bay and felt myself coming too close to the car next to me I didn’t stop and correct it I just thought it should be ok because I wanted to get parked and away from the stares of those people. The two standing in the road, their jaws dropped as they watched me smash into the car next to me. I can’t forget the look on their faces. It was loud, it was obvious, it must have looked quite aggressive. I somehow managed to correct myself and get into the parking space, turned off the engine, then I covered my face with my hands and wished fervently for the ground to swallow me whole. I felt so stupid and embarrassed and scared. I tried to phone my dad but couldn’t get through, then I googled, became even more scared from the results, tried again and again to phone my dad and finally got through. The tears came then. I sobbed down the phone at him, but thanks to him I at least had a plan (and some reassurance, too. I badly needed that…) After the phone call I gave myself some time to cry and panic some more, then I forced myself to calm down. I took pictures, I went to reception and asked them to look up the details of the car owner, who was thankfully not part of my immediate team at work, and she came out and I had to tell her I had damaged her car. She took it well, seeming more surprised than anything else (who can blame her. Its a ridiculous situation) I took her email. Later, much later, after I had time to process and phone my insurance I sent her my details and the photos.

Now I wait. She hasn’t responded yet and she wasn’t in the office today. I don’t know what comes next.

I can’t believe this happened. I feel deeply embarrassed. I’ve spent so long learning to drive and I’m still…not very good at it. It was very hard to drive back from work yesterday, and then to drive again today. I feel vulnerable and scared. I’m worried for what I’ll do, what wrong judgement I’ll make next.

Mostly, have I mentioned that this is extremely embarrassing?

In the end though, as embarrassing as it is at least it is just embarrassing. At least I didn’t flatten some poor innocent animal or drive a car off the road or get driven off the road. I didn’t even dent either of our cars – it’s superficial paint damage only as far as I could tell. Nothing was hurt but my pride. (And, I fear, my reputation at work. I don’t think anyone else knows about it but I fear it becoming known…)


The bank holiday weekend couldn’t have come soon enough – it was wonderful to have four days off work without having to use up my leave. I gave the flat a good clean and then went home to my parents for Easter. Both my sister and I came home that Sunday so we could have lunch together as a family. My parents hid our eggs in the garden, just as they used to do as we were kids. This was random, but amusing. After a good lunch, we sat around and talked…well, bickered, and ate chocolate, and it was a nice chill day. On Monday I went with my dad to Liverpool; there was an organ concert being held at the Liverpool Cathedral which we wanted to see. We did see it, and it was nice, though perhaps not as dramatic as I would have liked.

Afterwards we looked around the cathedral (and I learned that the phrase “pull out all the stops” is to do with the function of an organ, which fascinated me) and then we decided to pay to go to the top of the Cathedral. It turned out to be quite an adventure to get the top! We had to take two lifts and then climb some terrifyingly exposed stairs (I should not have looked down) before we reached the top. The views were amazing up there though. Although it had, of course, been raining the entire bank holiday weekend the sun was trying to come out on Monday. We could see clearly to the Mersey and could spot a few recognizable landmarks such as the Radio Tower and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Afterwards, we took the lift to another set of viewpoints – to some of the balconies at the top of the inside of the cathedral. This was the coolest. I have always wondered about the hidden stairways and balconies in a cathedral and we actually got to see some of that. Looking down from the balconies was so cool: the people below were tiny and busy, like in a Lowry painting.

I was so glad I had brought my camera. My father meanwhile had not, and without a strap on his phone, was left to take pictures whilst clinging on to his phone for dear life (can you imagine dropping something from that height…)

After the Cathedral we went to get lunch at a terribly overcrowded Pizza Express, and then did some light shopping before going to the World Museum. I loved the World Museum when I was a student in Liverpool; it’s free to enter with a small aquarium which I remembered had some beautiful tanks. I would pop in after or between lectures and sit and watch the fish to cheer myself up/relax. Sadly, the aquarium was undergoing a lot of work when we went in and it wasn’t like I remembered at all. We wandered around some of the other sections and it was nice, but I was disappointed about the fish. I guess nostalgia may have tinted my memories a little, made them better than they were? I know that does happen. It’s funny how familiar Liverpool feels to me, but also how distant now. It’s been a long time since I was a student there. Still, it was a fun day.

I’m not able to travel abroad this year for various reasons, and my UK Railcard which gives me discounts on rail travel is expiring, so I really do need to get out and explore around me like this as much as I can to keep myself from getting restless and to make the most of my discounted travel whilst I still have it.

It was such a long, exhausting journey back to my city from Liverpool though. I slept like the dead and woke up late on Tuesday. I was not particularly looking forward to going back to work after such a nice break either which did not help my motivation. But the week flew by in the end, and was mostly uneventful. I did drive to work every day and back which I am super proud of. As implied, I had taken the train to see my parents and to go to Liverpool, as I couldn’t face such long journeys by car. And I am still a very…all over the place driver. I have good days and bad days, but I am doing my best to gain experience. Today I also put petrol in my car for the first time which I am also proud of myself for (I even managed to figure out how to reset my trip meter!) then I drove down to my local park/nature reserve for a walk in the nice sunshine (of course the weather would turn brilliant when it’s not a four day weekend. :| ) and to check out the status of the spring flowers – the snowdrops have gone, the daffodils are ending, and now finally the bluebells are here. There were also many birds out, and I could see some baby ones too. It’s lovely to see the world come alive after the cold, dark winter. I love how long the days are now. I really got my driver’s licence at the ideal time – not having to worry about driving in the ice, snow or heavy rain just yet (fingers crossed). I drive to work in the light and leave in the light and it’s just wonderful. My days feel so much longer now.

I’m not looking forward to this upcoming week at all: I have my annual performance review and some scary training course coming up. I also have a few doctors’ appointments coming up, for nothing major, just investigation, but it’s a little worrying. The last post was kind of freeing to write though. Sometimes just admitting I’m not OK is enough to feel just a little better. I’m not OK, so I may as well not be OK and getting on with the things I need to be doing!


I HAVE PASSED MY DRIVING TEST. Four years of learning, four different test centers, four different instructors and two theory tests and I HAVE FINALLY DONE IT.

I had a really nice tester today. He was Scottish which reminded me of my grandpa and made me feel calm. He was also not pushy and didn’t interfere…Let me get on with it? But was really kind and reassuring when he spoke. I also had my instructor in the car with me which was nice. The test route was one I’d done a mock route on Tuesday (just yesterday!) which was awesome.(Well it’s a hard route but it was in my memory which massively helped.) Had a couple of hairy moments where I thought I may have failed but I did my best to stay calm and carry on. And in the end I had two minor faults, and not a single serious fault.(!!!) It was a very calm, uneventful drive. “I wish more tests could be like this” the tester said at the end. (!!!) I cannot believe I’ve done it. My first reaction to the tester saying I’d passed was “seriously?” Hah.

I like, actually have to drive now? I wonder how I’m going to afford a car after all these lessons? I cannot bay park or drive on motorways! But well, whatever. I’ve got my licence now and the rest will follow.

This is a massive confidence boost. I’m so relieved to not have this hanging over me anymore.


I had my first driving lesson in my new city tonight. (The time on this entry has gone wierd, I am actually posting this on Saturday the 7th…)

Yes, I finally got myself back behind the wheel. I grew a bit sick of myself in regards to how I was putting it off and I was also growing aware that my theory test would expire next year*- and would not be so easy to retake when working. I also knew that financially I am in a place now, after two months of having a salary, to afford it. I am also aware that part of my job is to travel to site or training, which I can’t do easily now. Basically – I needed to man up and get on with it. I knew that. So one evening last week I just sat down, did some googling, found a school that looked good and that was affordable and sent an email off to them. No hesitancy- I was going to get on with it. The next day they replied and by mid-week this week I had a lesson arranged. I was so glad they could fit me in so quickly, before my determination had withered.

I was super nervous for tonight anyway though- what if I’d forgotten everything? But its weird how not strange it all felt. I was a bit shaky on the pedals and a bit hesitant on my gear changes from lack of practice, and I did make some mistakes judging hazards. But otherwise I could still drive mostly independent from the instructor. It felt so weirdly familiar. I keep using the word weird, but that is the best word I can think of. I was not expecting to remember so much.

I was still shocked when at the end of the lesson she said I was test ready. I don’t feel test ready (and once she sees my manoeuvres and my roundabouts and struggles with 5th gear probably she won’t either…) I also don’t feel confident in this city. So she said that it would be probably best to spend a few months building up confidence, practising where they would take me on the test to do so. Which sounds like a good plan.

I swear, if everything had gone badly tonight and she had turned to me and said “you’ve driven before?” I would have just given up. This is a nice confidence booster. I just hope next week goes as well! (And that I can still parallel park.)

(*The UK drivers test is made up of a theory test and a practical test. Once the theory test is taken and passed the pass certificate is valid for two years.)

Heaving heart, full of pain

→I had my driving test last Thursday. My first driving test, I should say. I did not pass. It was a horrible experience. I was so nervous that I couldn’t react properly. I could mostly drive- I made very few minor mistakes- but nerves made it hard to think and made me panicky and quick to overreact. So I made too many big mistakes to do with awareness and planning. Truthfully, I failed right at the beginning. I swung out the parking space, right on collision course for another car. It only went down hill from there. I could feel myself failing, and on top of that I knew I had messed up right at the beginning and had few chances left to improve. Afterwards I just wanted to cry. I can drive! I could easily drive myself to work and back, which is one of the few reasons I am learning, I could drive to the hospital if need be, which is the other. But I cannot drive under test conditions. Where to go from here? I know I need to carry on, try again, get an instructor in my new city and try it here, but I feel helpless. My main problem is anxiety and that isn’t something an instructor can fix. I have been learning to drive for a long time, but I am as skittish as a new driver. It is quite frankly embarassing. And frustrating. I always try to think that if I work hard enough, nothing will stand in my way. Sometimes I think I only got through university through sheer force of will, from stubborn determination. That was certainly how I got into university, that’s for sure. But here is something where hard work means nothing. Where it is quite simply down to luck and managing your emotions. I am not very good at the latter, and I don’t seem to have a lot of the former when it comes to this.

→ I moved to my new city on Friday. My father hired a van to take me. One big van fully loaded, one long journey, a lot of exhausting heavy lifting (up two flights of stairs!) to empty said van, and then I was begging my father not to leave. Even though I have been itching to get out from living with my parents, I was still conscious of being left to fend for myself, all alone in a big new city. Moving also made the fact I am going to have go start work soon feel more imminent and more real. I phoned my mother up, seeking comfort. But there is no sugar coating it. I have to grow up now. I have got be independent, look after myself (and my finances), live the 9-5 life to earn a living just like everyone else. “Aren’t you excited to have a nice new flat?” My father asked. I thought about it a moment. “Yes, but I am also aware of the cost of it,” I replied, and added “that I  am going to have to earn it now. And try not to get fired to keep it.” My father smiled, indulgent. “That’s what everyone else has to do.” Yes but, it’s overwhelming how much is changing right now- new city, new job, driving, and all the people around me too. I know what I need to do but….

→ I  am definitely playing the “if I just pretend it isn’t happening, then it isn’t” , the “if I just will it enough, if I just wish hard enough for time to stop, then it will” game right now. When we brought our cat inside our house for the first time she immediately darted under the kitchen cupboards, where she mostly stayed for about two weeks. I want to burrow myself somewhere where I cannot be reached, somewhere where the whole world disappears. I am terrified.

→ I am somewhat embarrassed to say I’ve not done a lot since moving in, and there are still boxes and bubble wrap and stuff everywhere. It’s a mess. It feels weird, and uncomfortable. I keep meaning to go to one room, and ending up in another. I keep having to scratch through boxes to find things, have to substitute if I fail to do so.  I am living off ready meals and tinned food, my kitchen usable, but too unfamiliar. I find myself with a full sized kitchen, but missing my old tiny kitchen, the setup of it, how I knew where everything was and could move around my kitchen with ease. I’m not ready to cook in an environment so unfamiliar. Its a similar story in other rooms to be honest. I am taking each task, every familiar everyday thing now rendered strange and different, and taking them one at time, trying to ease into it. Trying to settle in slowly, so it becomes less scary and overwhelming. Tomorrow, maybe I will be ready to face my kitchen tomorrow. I have already just about  conquered my bedroom, my bathroom and my study. Just the kitchen and living room to go, so I’ll have to face one or both sooner or later.

→ Yes, I have all this space. I have: a landing, a kitchen, a study and spare bedroom, a bedroom, a lounge and dining room combo.  To be honest, with all my stuff the individual rooms don’t feel that big, but there sure are a lot of rooms. It’s quite amazing. I walked out my study earlier and realised how little space I took up this evening, how much black, empty space was around me. It’s amazing that it’s mine.