We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofDavis Linzell

In November 2020, my family and I went to the White Mountains in New Hampshire to go for a short hike and on a little adventure. I was sitting in the back seat of the car while we were coming back from the hike and thinking of when I would be able to start driving in a parking lot like my older friends had been doing over the summer. I figured out that I was just barely old enough to practice driving with my parents’ supervision. I asked my mom if we could go to a parking lot on the way back for my first driving lesson. She turned to my dad and they agreed to try to find a spot where I could practice driving for the first time. My mom turned to me and asked me, “Do you want to go to the Sunapee parking lot?” 

We swapped seats, adjusted all of the mirrors and seats, put on our seatbelts, turned the engine on. I learned how to change the gear and finally how to use the foot pedals. I held my foot on the brake pedal and put the car into drive. I slowly let my foot off the brake, and the car started to slowly move forward. I thought in my head “Wow, I’m actually driving now this is cool.” Not knowing how to brake properly, I pushed hard on the brake pedal as junk from the back seat jerked forward. My mom and I were squeezed by the seatbelts on our chest. My mom and I laughed and she said, “Aren't you glad that we had our seatbelts on?” Then I tried again, this time slowly letting my foot back on the brake to come to a slow and complete stop. 

After we did a few laps in the parking lot, we exchanged seats and began the drive back home. While I was in the back seat, I was remembering the times when I was younger when I learned for the first time how to ride a bike. I remembered how I would practice gliding on our driveway with training wheels on. When driving in the car I had to learn how to do things that were similar to learning how to ride a bike. For example, braking, steering, changing gears, making sure to take the right precautions. I progressively got better each time I practiced both biking and driving. When I had finally learned how to ride my bike with confidence, I felt a new wave of freedom and excitement. 

When I drove in the Sunapee parking lot for the first time, I felt the same feeling of freedom, excitement, and power. When I was younger, starting to ride my bike, I started to get more comfortable riding on sidewalks. I would see cars go by and I would think of how fun it would be to drive around the city. When I was seven, I remember thinking that it would be forever until I was able to drive. Now that I’m older, I’ve realized how fast time has gone and how growing up goes by so quickly. It felt like it was just a couple years ago when I was just starting to learn how to ride a bike and then “poof!” here I am learning how to drive a car. I was imagining the feeling of what it would be like driving around New Hampshire with the windows down, being able to smell the crisp summer air that blows on my face as I drive by the seacoast. I couldn’t wait for this new sense of freedom.

© Davis Linzell. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.