I have a friend who is afraid of highways.
She loses sleep if she knows she is going to have to drive on one. Loses weight. Organizes her life to avoid them.
I respect deep-seated fears and don’t tend to mess with them. I did wonder, though, how this fear was making her life smaller.
So we came up with a plan. Our kids were taking swimming lessons together this summer at a pool most easily accessed by highway. We agreed that she would follow me onto the highway every day for those two weeks of swimming lessons.
Every morning, she arrived at my house in her car and we caravanned together to the I-5 onramp and onto the highway. She practiced merging into fast traffic, slow traffic, stop and go traffic, following the lumbering butt of my minivan.
I don’t know who’s more irrational: me for not thinking twice about sending myself and my children into a stream of many-ton, fast-moving projectiles; or her for being afraid to do so.
At the end of the two weeks, she told me what the highway driving meant to her, how it had expanded her world:
She had signed up for an art class that she’s always wanted to take.
She’ll drive on the highway to get there.
Note: This article was written and published with my friend’s permission