Shinazy’s first road trip
Before the age of 6 my universe boundaries consisted of the Sunday drive to Nana and Granddaddy’s. Peering through the car window I saw no division between cities, one community melded into the next. All space was filled with houses, stores, and people. Pruned trees shaded front porches or held a swing. When it rained, water flowed down the streets disappearing into a grate at each corner.
At the end of summer number six, my grandparents, Gigs and Bussie, took several of us grandchildren on our first road trip. We drove across the San Francisco Bay Bridge; as long as I could see the bay everything looked the same as home. As the sun moved to shine through the windshield, our Plymouth turned away from the water and my world changed forever.
Passing a lonely, windowless building I saw nothing but dirt … empty space. Now and then a house with a long driveway or a cluster of shops with fading letters would appear and disappear. Large animals chewed on grass as their wire enclosure stretched for hours. Driving through the Sacramento Valley even the occasional tree vanished. The scenery’s monotony was a lullaby and upon awaking a never-ending lot of giant Christmas trees enfolded me. Everything was green.
When we stopped for the evening, at what I now know to be a tributary of the Feather River, I could not understand where all the flowing water had come from. When did it rain? Where was this water going? And, where was our bathroom? My bed? Walls? While Bussie unloaded the car, Gigs handed me a roll of toilet paper and pointed to the shadows. Why I did not get lost or die from a bladder condition is a sign of our survival instincts.
Forest sounds grabbed my attention and curiosity. Something was in the bushes. Something was outside my vision. Something was overhead in the trees. Cuddled in my sleeping bag filled with flashlight warmth, a bit of security returned. Here I could pretend I was home in a blanket tent.
That evening, with Gigs encouraging me to turn off the flashlight and step out into what I knew was blackness, my reality transformed, again. Although my only desire was to keep my eyes closed, I had to peek. There above my head were more wishing stars than my imagination could invent. I rapidly ran out of wishes and yet stars continued to fly across the sky. I decided I could live here and make new wishes, forever.
I have a secret. One of my wishes was to stop being scared of this thing called a ‘road trip’. This wish was granted for all my days since.
photos courtesy JoelinSouthernCA & Shinazy