This last weekend, I took a trip to LA.
Driving up and down the 5 is a meditative experience, to be extremely euphemistic. An infinite stretch of brown-green nothingness is all it is, sprinkled with cow dung and crazy drivers, probably just as impatient as I am to get 12 feet ahead.
I’m sitting as comfortably as I can, feet making automated movements thanks to a largely disconnected brain. I can’t help but think for the four hundredth time about the destination, how much I crave it.
I remember the first time I braved this drive; I stopped by Kettleman City to grab drive thru and some bitch in a Mercedes flipped me off for driving too slowly as I tried to have a bite at my burger.
I remember the first time I saw a trucker swerve at 2am and get nearly knocked off into the Grapevine. I remember the one time I cut off a white pickup in haste, which led to maybe 20 minutes of him chasing me down for what seemed like my mortal mistake. I remember the first time I observed SoCal get snowed in, adding an extra 4 hours of back-breaking misery. I remember the first time I was accompanied by a passenger, and the last time he accompanied me.
I apparently don’t like this drive at all, since I’m only remembering the negatives.
Sometimes, the idleness of it all is broken to think about life. Blasting music that I would listen to only if I were alone, I enter into a deep middle school kid moment of what I’m happy or unhappy about. I think of the things I should do, or fantasies that somehow the empty skies remind me of, or how much I love my car, etc. Sometimes, I think about the people I wish were in this car, or friends I’ve not seen in years. It’s kind of embarrassing really, the number of mindless thoughts that enter and exit as though they’re from a dream.
Man, driving is weird.
Recently, I thought about how it seemed like my life just hit that intersection between the 101 and 5, ticking the cruise control ON. It’s starting to become a straight line whose destination is so far I can’t see it. The boredom is setting in and I’m starting to hate it. My butt is beginning to be numb, lower back sore. Sometimes, I want to take that random exit off 152 on Pacheco Pass and just sit and stare at the reservoir. Other times, I’m pissed off that I’m only going at 80 mph when I want to step a 110.
Likewise to an impatient and tired driver, I’m starting to grow exceedingly aware of the smallest events that happen on the sidelines or up ahead. One day, I’ll be droning in on the latest work gossip; another day, all I want to do is figure out how to efficiently spend the next 15 minutes between two meetings. Every mile I drive sucks; every minute I spend idly, equally so.
I’m thinking about the hiccups that I’ve made in the last few months I started working, and I’m bracing for the ones I’m bound to make from here. I think about whether they would have ever happened had I had the choice to fly instead. I think about whether this is even worth it.
I’m sitting as comfortably as I can, working with $350 noise-cancelling headphones typing away mindlessly. There’s a pdf of algebraic topology open in some tab, somewhere. I crave it, and I know where I need to be. This is just the drive to get there.