“And Don’t Forget To Put Your Seatbelt On!”

Time has a way with us and it also has a way with places that we remember growing up.  Sure, most of them we reminisce about in our youth are gone or they have been rebuilt and look nothing like they did from years past and that is okay.  My mother always said to make your memories out of moments and make moments memories.  

There is one place though that is still standing.  It is a building that contained all of our hopes and dreams.  It is a spot that we thought about quite a bit and for some, absolutely dreaded.  It is not only for us that grew up in Nashville, but you all had one of these where ever you were raised.  Every single one of you had it.  City.  Country.  It did not matter, you had this place.  

I drive by this spot almost every single day and recently, I looked over and had to pull to the side of the road and just stared at this worn down building.  I saw a confident but completely lost 16 year old Joe Dubin walking into that place.  I also saw all my friends doing the same thing.  All of them.  We walked in, thinking we were confident, because when we came out on the other side, our life would be completely different.  

I am talking about the old drivers license testing location on the corner of Donelson pike and Murfreesboro Road.  Yes, remember now?  It all makes perfect sense if you go back and read above.  That building did contain our hopes and dreams because at 16, all you wanted was your license.  That was the most important thing because if you passed, and were lucky enough to have a car, the world was yours in every way possible. 

My brother taught me how to drive a stick shift when I was 14 and my mom would take me to practice whenever she could so I would be ready to go.  When 16 quickly approached, we made the appointment and off we went.  I studied harder for the written portion than anything I had ever done before.  Had I studied in school the way I studied for the drivers test, I would have probably been a C+ student instead of a C.  

I had a late birthday so I was into my junior year before I could take my test but I had great friends who took me many places.  The day we went to the testing center all I could think was about failing this test and starting over and my hopes and dreams would hop into another car and leave me.  I will never forget when we got there and my mom said, “Smile for your picture when you pass, please.  Oh, don’t forget to put your seatbelt on!”  In three seconds, my mom gave me all the inspiration I would need to succeed. She gave me a hug and sat outside and pulled out her book and started reading.  She was confident I would get it done without any problems.  Or she had the best poker face ever.  

I go in, ace the written test with flying colors and then I heard, “Joe Dubling, you are up next.  Let’s go.”  I walked over and said, “My last name is Dubin.  D-U-B-I-N.”  The instructor, agitated now, said, “You put down Dubling.”  “Sir, may I see?  It is Dubin.  No L or G.  Dubin.”  Great, already off to a wonderful start with him. 

The next five minutes passed in a blink of an eye.  A couple of right turns.  A few left turns.  A stop sign.  Turn signal on, and back to the building that contained our hopes and dreams.  We pull back in and he says nothing.  I just follow him in and can’t find him.  What in the world?  Then he reappears from some portal out of nowhere and says, “Congratulations.  You passed.  Go to the counter and take your picture.”

Success.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.  I get my picture made and walk out to my mom.  I decided to play a joke on her and said, “Passed the written, mom, and failed the driving part.  I am sorry.”  She stands up and says, “I know you passed.”  I was perplexed and said, “How?”  She smiled and said, “I asked the instructor and he said you did great.”  Moms.  

Hopes and dreams level attained.  Now my life could really begin and the ride that day sums up my life and probably all of yours.  Some left turns, right turns, stop signs, turn signal on, and do it over and over.  

I sat and stared at that building the other day and vividly remembered that conversation with my mom and how proud she was of me for passing the test.  Little did I know that she knew our relationship would forever change because she was letting me go to find those hopes and dreams.   My goodness, I never got to thank her for that. 

A building.  A simple building that has been worn down by time and weather and life.  A building that we all walked into as a bunch of know-it-alls and then exited into adult hood.  

“And don’t forget to put your seatbelt on!”  Thanks, mom.  

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