I wasn’t too happy about sitting in the dark room with the flashing lights that made me blink incessantly, wearing somebody else’s tank top and an over-used cover-up that looks like the top of a dress. Senior portraits aren’t fun, but I couldn’t tell the camera man that when he asked why I looked so dull. All I could do was smile and say ‘cheese’, change positions, and do it again.
When I walked out of the darkened school I was immediately assaulted by the scorching sunlight. I fumbled in my bag for my sunnies to put on before I was overwhelmed by sun sneezes. Once I was looking through the vintage tint that the lenses create, I could see the heat waves rising off of the pavement and the hood of my car. Today is August the first, and the dog days of summer have begun.
It was still mid-morning as I pulled out of the parking lot, and I knew that all of my mom’s friends were still at my house playing cards with her. I didn’t really want to go home and be quiet so that they could be loud, so I hit my signal and turned left. I didn’t know quite where I was going until I remembered that there was that one thing that I wanted to get for that one person, which can’t be named in this blog for the sake of surprise.
Driving with the air-conditioning on, the window cracked, and singing along with the music loud gave me chill bumps when the hills parted and the misty valley peeked out at me. Chill bumps, even on the first dog day of summer. That’s what poetry can do to you.
It didn’t take long to get to the thrift store and find what I was looking for, so I decided that I would just pop over to the lake, considering how close I was to it, and how I still didn’t want to go home. Being in a thrift store, with $20 in my pocket (no, I’m actually not trying to make a reference to the song), I walked over to the clothing isle to get something less nice than my picture-taking clothes. I grabbed a top, a pair of shorts, an old, ratty Jansport backpack with two straps (which I later proceeded to convert to one strap, via my superior ingenuity), and the aforementioned unmentionable gift – all for about $10. God love thrift stores.
With my new old day gear slung over my shoulder, I went out in search of a gas station, knowing that I would probably get lost and need more fuel than what I had. My card only works for Exxon, but I couldn’t find one of those, so I had to resort to using a $5 bill to get whatever I could in a different station. After I filled up my Yaris (which I want you to know I pronounce yar-ee, since a mispronunciation named my car), I went into the store to get an apple, a water bottle, and hair bands, and change into my new old clothes.
Feeling like a first class hipster, I hit the road. Not sure which road, but I hit it. Let’s just pretend that I had some slight idea of where the hell I was going. In reality, I didn’t, and I just followed roads that looked promising until I could catch a glimpse of the lake, and then I took more roads that looked promising. When I started thinking that the lake was just some sort of mirage, and I would never be able to reach it, I saw a sign that said ‘Park’ on it, with an arrow. An arrow! I’m saved! More arrows pointed me down more winding roads until I finally came to the park entrance. The sign in front of the entrance told me that walking in was $1 cheaper than the $2 drive-in fee. I pulled up to the window and asked the grisly old man who came to it, “I don’t suppose I could park my car here and call it a walk-in, could I?” because I’m cheap.
“No, because then I’d have to charge you for my parking space.”
With an ‘oh, well then’ and a smile, I handed him the two dollars and drove through. I parked in the first shaded spot that I came to and walked down to the water with my makeshift bag slung over my back. The crisp, cool, blue water could not have been more inviting if I had just stumbled out of the Sahara desert. I waded in up to my thighs and splashed water on my arms and neck. I was alone except for one other family, which was preoccupied with themselves, except for when I heard their little girl say, “Jeremy, why do you keep staring at that woman? Are you in loveee?” I ignored the meaning of this remark, and instead focused on how odd it is that a little girl was calling me a ‘woman’ as I walked up to a shaded grove and picnic bench. I wouldn’t consider myself a woman. I might never consider myself a woman. To me, I’ll always be a girl, une fille. A little girl who gets lost, be it on a bike or in a car. I’ll always be a girl, even when people call me a woman, and ‘ma’am’. And I’ll always be a little girl to my parents, and to the rest of my family. To others, however, it seems that the adjectives and nouns which I denote are evolving.
I thought of this as I sat in the shade eating my apple, and of other things. Sometimes I was thinking, but sometimes I was just enjoying. The breeze picked up and carried to me lulling notes of the water, laughter of strangers far down the beach, and motors which were speeding people across the lake. I sat like that for a good while, just being.
When I felt blissfully content I headed back to my car and attempted to remember the way back out of the maze I had gotten myself into. I couldn’t remember, so instead I made another maze. When I again felt hopelessly lost, this maze led me to, you’ll never guess… an Exxon! I was sorely needing the fuel at this point, and sorely needing directions. While my car filled up I walked into the station to ask the cashier where I was going. He was very helpful, and with a few turns I knew exactly where I was. I felt very content as I drove myself home. I was thinking about it, though, and considering that my favorite necklace is some 4,900 miles away in the safe-keeping of a friend, I think I’ll invest in one of those nifty compass necklaces, so that it can always point me in the right direction.
I passed the school on the way back, where my former fellow band members were still at practice. I had a moment of relief, because I realized in that moment that I was right. I do not, and will not regret what I did. What I’m doing now is what makes me happy, and I’m glad that I made the right choice.
I pulled into my garage at home with a light heart. Today was a day of serendipity, and my soul is no longer restless. I hope to find more serendipitous moments in the future, and next time, hopefully, with a camera.