Written by Mona Simpson
Anywhere But Here, 1986
After school, we drove to the Valley. Sometimes, I really liked my mother. She drove easily, with one hand, as she pumped the gas with the toe of her high-heeled shoe. We looped on the freeway ramps smoothly. She talked to me and drove almost unconsciously on the six-lane highway with a freedom and confidence anyone at home in Bay City would have admired if they could have seen her. I remembered our first day in Los Angeles, how she’d clutched her whole body an inch away from the steering wheel. Her voice, when she told me to turn off the radio, fell stern and quiet. She’d been afraid for our lives. She’d driven on the right-hand side, almost on the gravel by the high aluminum fence. Her lips had moved and I thought she might have been praying. Now, she changed lanes and told me to look at the sun, just over a Coke sign on a dry hill. There were things to be proud of my mother for. I doubt she ever thought about it, how she’d learned to drive here.
© 1986 Mona Simpson; New York: Alfred A. Knopf