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Despite the fun we had when Gill was here, I confess I’m rather glad to have my car back. During her stay, she drove often — sometimes at my insistence. I was afraid she’d forget how to drive if she didn’t since she doesn’t have a car in the U.K. Practice makes perfect they say. Well, I’m not sure I’d ever describe Gill’s driving as perfect, but we’re just hoping for ‘not erratic and mostly law-abiding’. Let’s face it, she has some past incidents to live down.

It didn’t take her long this summer to get back in the swing of it. She tried to put us in a ditch at the country property (well, technically she DID put us in a ditch but she managed to extricate us so it was a wash) and then, thinking a huge truck was going to sideswipe us, she veered to drive up on a curb for the shortest time. Good thing I’m having the car’s quarterly check-up soon. I suspect something about the alignment might be off. Get me!All of a sudden I know what the alignment is? I don’t, really, the car just feels funny. That’s as close to a diagnostic conclusion as I can get. No matter…my point is that the car is still alive and kicking if a little worse for wear.

I am also grateful that I don’t now have to change the placement of the seat (I basically sit on top of the steering wheel so I can reach the pedals), the mirrors(I like to see something other than the sky when I drive) and the sun visors (I’m already blind according to Gill; I don’t need to be further blinded by the sun).And I won’t even mention the CDs. She puts her favorites in and puts my favorite I know not where. Although it wasn’t as bad this years as usual — we compromised on The Beach Boys, a favorite of everyone. But now that I have my car back, I’m back to my fine collection of Whitney, Kenny Rogers and Michael Bolton. Classics all.

I try not to criticize Gill’s driving when she’s at the wheel. (Which is why we ended up in the ditch. I didn’t yell soon enough.) I didn’t want to be a back seat driver, issuing instructions (like my own mother who constantly slammed on the invisible brakes on the passenger’ side).

It is for this same reason that I hesitate to give directions when we go out together. Foolish me, I figure that since she’s lived in this city for over 20 years, she should have some clue as to where the streets take us and what they’re named. Wrong. So wrong! She can’t even name the major streets, much less find them. I was strongly tempted to leave bread crumbs in the car for her to throw out the window to find her way back. That’s assuming she got where she was going…often a dodgy assumption.

And yes, our history of road trips together is also a bit dodgy. During our trip to San Francisco, I didn’t want to interrupt her concentration by screaming out directions to turn or take a certain exit from the freeway. She will claim on a stack of Bibles that I couldn’t make up my mind as to where to go, but I was simply being a polite passenger. Besides, we’re not religious so any swearing on Bibles has to be suspect. And we all know that Mother Is Always Right.

As for getting lost upon occasion, Gill is mistaken when she claims I don’t know where I’m going half the time. I prefer to look upon my driving adventures as a ‘lovely day for a drive in the country’. Again, that is a habit I picked up from MY mother who elevated her off-the- beaten track drives to a higher art form.

Gill and I will probably never agree on the driving skills or road directions, but I still win since the car is mine and back in my possession again…until the next visit. Not to worry…I’m going to visit Gill in England soon and she’ll be in total control of the directions. We’ll be walking and taking the train a lot but that has the benefit that neither one of us has to navigate or stay out of ditches. Safer for all concerned.