One important rite of passage occurred during my sophomore year of high school. I turned 16. That meant I got my driver's license.
The day I turned 16 was an exciting day. It was the day that I was legally capable of operating a motor vehicle on my own. But it was a long road getting there.
The previous year, when I had turned 15, Dad drove me out to the DMV to get my learner's permit. But remember that seizure I had when I was still in the hospital? Well, apparently there's a rule that kept me from even attempting to get my permit until 8 months after the seizure. My 15th birthday was only about 2 months after that little event. So I had to wait 'til the following August.
But eventually I did receive the learner's permit. And I got enrolled in driver's ed. If memory serves, Patrick Henry didn't offer a driver's ed course. Maybe they did and I just missed the window. Whatever the case may be, I ended up in a driving school that was run by someone that worked with Mom.
There were maybe 10 or 12 of us enrolled in the class. We met in a church for the classroom portion a few nights a week. I don't remember most of the people I was in the class with. Really, I can only get a mental image of two of them, the ones that sat on either side of me. However, I don't remember their names. One was a girl who I remember as being a Katie. That probably wasn't her name, but that's how I refer to her in my mind. When I never actually think about her. All I really know about her was that she was the heiress to the local snow shack fortune. You know those little huts that are in grocery store parking lots that sell glorified sno-cones? Her father owned a bunch of those. All I remember about the guy that sat to my left is that he went to Roanoke Valley Christian School.
In the classroom, we were taught by a guy that really gave most of us the creeps. When we'd arrive early, we'd all sit around and talk about the "coach" before he got there. The general consensus was that he reminded us all of a sex offender on parole. Weird guy.
Behind the wheel was a little better. Of course, I'm an excellent driver, so I pretty much nailed that part. When I finally got the chance to take the written test at the DMV, I failed it the first time. I blame the "coach" that taught the written portion. Obviously, the teaching was sub par. But I went back, read the book cover to cover, and got a perfect score the second time around.
And I've been driving ever since.