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Lately I'm beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel*

I'm thinking the title is a dead giveaway but it's been playing in my head ever since this morning and I can't find it in me to ignore Brandon Boyd's voice singing.

Yes, today I drove for the first time. And what a feeling it was.

It has always been this unspoken given that I will learn to drive eventually. In high school they said I shall learn when I get to college, when I got to college they said when I turned 18, when I turned 18 they said after graduation. However, regardless of the constant pushing of these so-called "deadlines," I didn't find the need to rush into it - it was going to happen somehow anyway. That was for sure.

Add to that the fact that I found no immediate need to learn how to drive. My parents have no plans of buying me a car anytime soon, and although we randomly toss the idea around in conversations, it's not something definite, or at least not something that's in the foreseeable future. I am also a dormer, which makes my commute to and from UP relatively easier. When I do go back home in the south, I take the MRT to Ayala and from there meet up with my parents in the Makati area where they will fetch me after their work. Also, I secretly do enjoy the whole "I don't drive because I'm meant to be driven," shtick I give to my friends when they tease me to ask Rainier to let me drive his car.

But admittedly, the reason I did not mind the delay was because a part of me was also scared - scared that despite everything I was supposed to know about automobiles and driving (mostly thanks to Rainier who is obsessed with them, and has in fact designed and built two cars already) I also knew absolute nothing. I have no previous experience in driving - nay, I have no experience in any kind of moving vehicle at all. I can't even bike, for crying out loud! And the first (and last time) I rode an ATV for Geog Camp, I almost crashed into a tree (almost killing the aforementioned boy who sat behind me, out of fear, but mostly out of kilig, I suppose, although that's for another blog entry altogether).

As a result, I had all these preconceived notions about running into concrete barriers, having the engine die out on me, turning at the wrong time, crashing again into a tree - a whole slew of scenarios probably expected from clumsy, awkward, panicky me.

However when I started the ignition this morning, while finding the right balance between stepping on the gas and releasing the clutch, I just found this overwhelming sense of ease. Like this was something I was supposed to do, like this was something natural to me.

Perhaps I can credit it to maturity or to Brandon Boyd's singing in my head, but it just didn't seem as frightening as I expected the first time to be. It turned out much better than I was picturing all these years in my imagination. And when I was finally making the turns, shifting gears, and getting out there on the main road, it was like all fears just went splat! on the windshield as if to say, "There's nothing to be afraid of, really."

Well, of course there is. Like people suddenly flashing the hand of God when crossing the street from out of nowhere, or when motorcycles suddenly cut in front of you even when you have your signal on, or jeepneys randomly stopping in front of you. But to have avoided all these during my first time without much difficulty - that was quite thrilling. It was like for the first time in a long time, I had control of the situation, and I successfully maneuvered out of it.

It's no secret that the last few months prior to graduation (and to the result of the law school entrance exams) have been very tough on me. It took a toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was hoping this summer was going to give back the confidence I felt I lost in the process of finishing my thesis and complying with all my requirements.

Last week, I returned to Bangkok. The last time I was there was in 2008, the summer before college. Finding myself there again after four years, it was like coming full circle. I was in the same place again: on the brink of a major change in my life. I was surprised at how a lot of things inside me still remain unchanged after four years - the excitement enveloped in fear, the optimism coupled with reluctance.

But today, I felt I got the push I needed to get me out of this uncertainty I've been carrying with me lately. I came face-to-face with an actual, tangible enemy: the road. And having it stretch out in front of me for me to actually take on, that proved to be liberating. The moment I set myself in motion, I realized that while the fear may never completely go away, it does not mean I can't get around it either.

I guess the same goes for law school, and the rest of my future. And because there really is no other way to end this other than to wrap it up with the song, I say (and sing!) with much conviction: Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah.


* A line from the song Drive by Incubus