There's a highway called I-695 that rings around Baltimore. It's also known as the Baltimore Beltway. There's a similar one that encircles Washington DC - I-495 or the Washington Beltway.
I mention this because, for years, I was bemused by stories of women drivers who, for fear of merging, refused to drive on the Beltway. Okay, bemused is a mild description of how I really felt about women like that, but it's Tishrei and I'm trying hard not to judge others negatively. When I lived in the US, I drove anywhere, except, come to think of it, in New York City.
A year and a half ago, I wrote about the traumatic process of getting my Israeli driver's license. And earlier this year, I wrote about the ease with which I used to drive in America.
I had a job once that required me to travel all over the State of Maryland to meet with nurses about advancing their educations. I hopped in my car without a moment's hesitation and drove four hours in each direction just to meet with a handful of nurses who worked in isolated communities in Western Maryland or on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
I've been driving since I was 15. Having said that, I never really liked to drive. I did it because I was an adult and it was a necessity. But it's a standing joke between me and my husband that, as we approach the car, he asks, "Do you want to drive?"
And I always say, "I never want to drive."
As a consequence, now that we're a one-car family and Egged buses take me to work, I rarely drive anywhere anymore. I can count on one hand the number of time I have driven anywhere outside of the city where we live and at least two of those times, I drove to the airport to pick up my husband who, despite his jet lag, would always drive us home.
In Israel, I lost my driving moxie. I went from electing not to drive to developing a low-level anxiety about driving.
Then two things happened.
Someone told us about an Israeli-developed smartphone app called Waze that operates like a GPS to navigate around Israel.
And my husband left town.
My daughter and I decided to go to a friend's for Shabbat. Ordinarily, with my husband away, we would have taken the bus, but there is no direct bus to our friend's home.
So I agreed to drive us there.
I know it sounds like such a little thing. I know people who have been here much longer and much less time than I have who drive all over the country like, well, like they own the place.
But I was trepedatious. Anxious.
I felt like one of those Baltimore women who won't drive on 695.
My husband texted me a pep talk. My daughter watched the Waze app on my iPhone. And I drove.
And when we arrived, yes, in one piece thank you very much, I texted my husband.
"Piece of oogah."