Baby, You Can Drive My Car...

Whenever I talk to someone who doesn't live in a city, it is inevitable that the topic of transportation arises. Without fail, my conversation partner will be shocked that I subsist without a car. Not only do I survive without one, I rather enjoy the fact that I never have to drive. It's probably un-American of me to say so, but I've never particularly enjoyed driving. The independence that it grants is a perk, to be sure, and its cargo-towing capacity certainly makes it easier to embark upon shopping sprees and large grocery runs, but driving just makes me nervous. Even if you drive safely and flawlessly, there is no controlling the actions of other motorists. The CTA may be full of unique, often "colorful" characters, but it is a relief to hand over the burden of responsibility for my commuting needs.

Still, I fully recognize the need to own a vehicle when living in the suburbs. Public transportation is virtually non-existent, and residential neighborhoods are often distantly removed from places of business and commerce. Hence, when Lauren began to contemplate purchasing a car in advance of her impending move to suburbia, I was hardly surprised. However, she was expressing concern about getting behind the wheel once more after several years of car-free city life, so I offered to let her get some practice behind the wheel of my car, which resides in the suburbs with my parents.

Today, we dutifully trekked northward to pick up the car, and made a day of it in the suburbs. We had a tasty lunch with my parents, and I took Lauren to the same office park where my parents originally taught me how to drive some nine years ago. The office park, that uniquely suburban institution, is perfect for driving practice, as they are generally surrounded by acres of parking lots that are abandoned come the weekend. We tooled around there for a bit, but driving came back quickly to Lauren, and she was soon ready to hit the streets. I selected the most interesting drive on the North Shore that I could think of -- south down Sheridan Road to the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette.

Hard to believe we're still in Illinois, isn't it?

The Bahá'í House of Worship is, in my opinion, the architectural highlight of the North Shore. There might be Frank Lloyd Wright homes and other impressive manses, but nothing can hold a candle to this unique structure. Bahá'ís like to point out that their faith is the second most geographically widespread religion after Christianity, but their numbers are relatively small -- they claim only approximately 5-6 million adherents worldwide. As a result, they have adopted the practice of constructing only one temple per continent, and because an early pocket of their followers resided in turn-of-the-century Chicago, construction began on the North American Bahá'í House of Worship in 1912. It features breathtaking Art Nouveau architecture, with a lacey exterior surface that incorporates symbolism from all major world religions.

Lauren and I at the Bahá'í House of Worship.

After surveying the temple, and watching a brief informational video on the Bahá'í faith, I directed Lauren back to Highland Park and through a brief tour of my old stomping grounds, including a pit stop at my absolute favorite ice cream shop, Sweet Pea's. Ultimately, Lauren was genuinely happy to get behind the wheel again, and ended the day with her confidence in her driving skills fully restored. It turned out to be a fun day trip, which just goes to show the power of great company in transforming a mundane task like driving practice into a delightful day of local tourism.

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