I would normally be the secondary driver on any car rental, but not this time. My Uber driver got lost on the way to the car rental place in central Lisbon (because I gave him the wrong address) and by the time I got to the rental place, my husband and son were mostly through the rental papers, and my son had been named as the secondary driver.
There were 7 of us, including some significant others, on this family trip to Portugal. Yes, we once again went for what we call Forced Family Fun or Free Family Fun (or more known as FFF in our family.) After spending a couple of wonderful days in Lisbon, we rented a massive, 9 seat, stick shift minivan to see more of the country.
“Do you actually know how to drive a stick shift?” I asked my son as we all piled into the car.
“Enough,” he responded (in typical male fashion.) “I’ve done it a couple of times.”
“Okay,” I thought to myself, “what is the likelihood that Mike won’t be able to drive?”
And off we went. It took Mike a good minute and a half to get accustomed to the stick, but before he could say, “obrigado” Mike was shifting up the hills of Lisbon like no one’s business. That is, until he got sick. Or more accurately, until he took my viral infection (…he actually took my water bottle and drank from it- the theory of our marriage being, “What’s yours is mine.”)
That is how we found ourselves with my son behind the wheel in a little town southeast of Lisbon, near Monsaraz (wine country), stalled in the middle of a busy intersection. And while he did just fine for the first half hour of driving, my son was sweating pretty heavily at that intersection as he stalled 6 times, the van bucking and jerking, the passengers in the car hysterically laughing (except for my husband, who was simply trying to live) with cars backed up in every direction. And kudos to the Portuguese people. Not one person beeped.
Which got me thinking. Could I have done better? I used to drive a stick, but it is something that I haven’t done in decades. And what else did I used to do that I simply don’t do any more? I started compiling a list of things in my head.
I used to drive a stick shift, I used to scuba dive, I used to negotiate purchase and sale agreements, I used to get dressed up to go to work, I used to dye my hair, wear really high heels, run a 10k every fall.
I used to play tennis, and eat cheesy pasta. I used to cook dinner every night, I used to go food shopping with Mike on Wednesday evening date nights, I used to stay up until past midnight. I used to pretend I liked to ski. I used to not like beer, tequila or bourbon. I used to expect jewelry on Valentine’s Day.
I used to not worry about cancer, I used to think I would not be able to survive if I lost a parent, I used to give a shit about what other people thought of me, I used to eat ice cream every night, and weigh myself every day. I used to think that anti-semitism could not happen in my backyard.
I used to eat freshly fallen snow with maple syrup. I used to be the President of the PTA, the chair of the committee, the organizer. I used to read out loud to a child every night, I used to be able to sleep late, and fall asleep without a Lorzapem. I used to respect the President of the United States of America.
I used to be able to climb a knotted rope. That’s a lie, I actually never could climb a knotted rope but I used to care that I couldn’t. I used to spend my day in a car. I used to have to put three other humans to bed before I put myself to bed. I used to kiss boo-boos and bandage scraped knees. I used to read a printed newspaper and paper books.
I used to be obsessed by Candy crush. I used to like roller coasters. I used to ride a road bike with toe clips and padded shorts. I used to be able to fit into those tight black jeans that I have stuffed away at the bottom of my closet. I used to be able to blow out all the candles on my birthday cake. I used to remember shit. I used to have two real, working nipples.
Do I miss these things? Have I replaced some of things with other, better things? Sure. And most importantly, I still laugh at the same things, I still love the same people, I still rely on the same friends. I am very happy just the way things are now.
But I think I might go back and practice driving a shift for the next FFF trip to Europe.