The road goes ever on and on/down from the door where it began

Once in a while, I feel like doing something random. As the family’s resident Rebel Child Extraordinaire, I do have an image to uphold, ya know. So today, because I had somehow managed to leave home earlier than usual, I decided to kill time by exiting the freeway about fifteen miles into my drive. I stopped at a drive-thru and ordered french fries and a drink (it was only 8 a.m., and I doubt fries constitute regular breakfast fare for many people—including myself—yet the girl at the drive-thru didn’t so much as blink when she passed me my order), then impulsively turned onto the road running parallel to the freeway, instead of hitting the freeway itself.

One of the things I love most about the Bay Area is our hills and mountains. And although most peoples’ jaws literally drop in shock when they learn that I commute 120 miles a day, I love the drive simply because of the scenery. Three years worth of commuting to and from college haven’t even come close to killing my appreciation for the Bay Area’s winding roads and rolling hills, and there have been many days when I’ve wished I could just get off the freeway and drive along the roads parallel to the freeway instead.

So I did that today. The two lanes that comprise what is known as Lopes Road are narrow, and although they flow in the general direction of north and south, just as Interstate-680 does, they are situated in the hills themselves, high above the freeway, twisting and turning far more than the freeway does. I steered my car along the meandering road, one hand on the steering wheel, the other anchoring my drink (I had ordered a medium, and was surprised to get one that looked like a large; it refused to fit in my cup-holder. At this rate, I’m scared to envision what an extra-large must look like). After a few minutes, I removed my sunglasses and tossed them onto the passenger seat, because, as Waleed once wisely commented, “the world is dazzling enough.” And indeed it is. The skies were clear blue, and sunshine danced across the hills and spilled in through my car’s open moonroof. A couple times, I turned off the main road to check out the lanes curving further into the hills, laughing inwardly at my deliberate refusal to acknowledge the “Private Property; No Trespassing” and “Beware of Dog” signs.

I didn’t see more than three cars on the road the entire time, two whizzing by in the opposite direction and one speeding down the road far ahead of me. I stopped the car once to take a photograph of my favorite curve of hillside (yes, I have a favorite. shut up), leaving the car door open and the car idling as I got out and aimed my camera. I stood ankle-deep amongst the golden California poppies at the side of the road, squinting, turning the camera this way and that, zooming in and out, while an apt Switchfoot song blasted from my speakers (It’s a long way from the moon up to the sun/It’s a longer ahead of me, the road that I’ve begun/Stop to think of all the time I’ve lost/Start to think of all the bridges that I’ve burned, that must be crossed…). I paused once more at the top of a rise to take a photo of the marshland, dotted with red and yellow and green, at the other side of the freeway. Lord knows how they turned out. I should probably invest in a digital camera.

Although I amusedly, self-deprecatingly, refer to my commute as my “thinking time,” it is just that. It’s my chance to get away from the world for a bit, to daily analyze my goals and priorities. When it comes to life, I have tendencies to just “go with the flow,” and that’s not necessarily a good thing, simply because going with the flow sometimes results in merely standing still. Lately, I feel as if I’ve been stuck in what I call a “limbo stage,” those intermediate states of uncertainty that everyone finds exasperating, frustrating. But it’s all good, because all my limbo stages in the past have always resulted in some form of personal growth. And that’s all I ultimately need.

I have 200 pages of reading to finish by tonight, a paper due Wednesday, final exams on Thursday. I should be researching grad schools, filling out applications, preparing for the GRE…and fiddling around with my fall quarter schedule, because I’m a genius and I’ve somehow managed to register for classes conducted at the same time as both my internships.

But it’s good to get away once in a while. So here’s to limbo stages and random drives, California poppies and Bay Area mountains, sunshine and french fries.

[Yes, I’m in love with mountains. Here’s some photographs from the East Bay, where I live—no, I didn’t take them, though. Beautiful, see? Alhamdulillah.]

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