I grew up in a predominantly white, rural town. Some people identified as Latino or Hispanic, but in every single class that I was in, whether it be dance, school, gymnastics, or karate, I was always the darkest one. There would be another Black person occasionally, and it wouldn’t be until I was able to explore more around town that I finally saw the rest of the community. The ones with darker skin like mine were, quite literally, segregated on the other side of town. None of the people I hung out with even knew about it. My classmates would even freak out when we got another Black boy in class.Continue reading “Why I Kidnapped My Friends”
The first time I ever drove on the highway was the day I left home for college. I gripped the wheel, white-knuckled, and waited for my car to swiftly slide off the mountains of the Grapevine’s edge for the entire two and a half hours it took to drive myself and my room full of belongings in the infamous minivan. I spent the majority of my first year driving around during a time without regularly available smartphones as an inexperienced driver of only a year lost with an equally confused friend.
In fact, we got lost so often from not printing out directions ahead of time from MapQuest (not Google Maps) that we would jokingly call the mishaps adventures. The cellphones that we did have barely went on the internet, and when you did accidentally click the internet button, you had to click out really fast, or your mom would yell at you for racking up her bill. I could use my aging Chocolate LG sliding phone to make calls, take photos that looked like they were taken with a shoe, and play the highly-sought-after game of snake.Continue reading “The Drive-Thru Theater Adventure”
Two thousand and two miles and seven states in twenty-nine hours. My sister and I drove that distance in a small Hyundai Sonata from Tennessee to California. We celebrated as we passed state lines, posed in front of state signs, and nearly killed each other in the last eight hours before we made it to California.
My sister and I agreed to help our cousin by driving her car back to California from where she lived in Tennessee. She and her newborn baby were to take a flight back home as we tried not to crash her car while moving at top speeds across the country. However, after we began to see historical signs and interesting billboards, we decided to make a couple of stops along the way. Continue reading “Two Thousand Miles In Two Days”
The first family road trip, that I can remember, happened sometime around the age of eight or nine. I was handed a Kodak disposable camera and carefully tried to ration the allotted photos that could be taken on the wind-up-operating device. However, because I was only eight and had no experience with cameras and didn’t feel like using the view finder, I quickly went through the film reel by taking terrible pictures with thumbs partial blocking blurred views of ordinary trees from the inside of a moving car. Continue reading “A Collection of Memories”
I glanced over at the odometer and watched the digitally scribed numbers on my dash grow as I crept forward through the California desert. Death Valley’s hot breath blew past my windshield and into the open windows of my mid-sized vehicle as my tires continued to spin over dusty asphalt roads that were beginning to sizzle in the late spring heat.
The car full of people that I was towing were all headed over the first of three state lines that I would end up crossing within a month’s time frame, and with every border I crossed, and every mile that I traveled, I could only hope for more to come. Continue reading “Across State Lines”
The last five days before my best friend and I started new full-time jobs, and receiving talks about promotions, were the days we used to travel up and then back down along America’s west coast. We took to the highways, side roads, and freeways like a drop of water takes shape in a rushing stream. It was as if we forgot the world where we both had to go to our jobs, water our plants, and take out the trash, and lived, for a moment, as traveling gypsies hugging the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
We traveled from Southern California, up the 5 and along the 101 Redwood Hwy. We stopped to gaze up at the epic wooden splendor and slept at the foot of nature’s long-living giants. Continue reading “The End of A Journey (Part 2 of 2)”
I looked around the dance floor at the wildly flailing 20-somethings vibrantly moving and singing to the Katy Perry song that was blaring through the nearby speakers. High heels had already been thrown alongside the venue’s walls where flowers and table decorations had fell during the enthusiastic celebration. Among the faces of young adults spotlighted in yellow lights was a group of people who I had come to know over the course of 10 years. I laughed as we brought back terrible dance moves that no sane person would attempt in public.
“I think I’m bringing back the shopping cart, you guys,” I said raising my hand from the imaginary shopping cart to grab the invisible grocery product. I managed to carefully place the product in the cart.
A friend who was happily twisting her hips in the washing machine motion had screamed. “Ah! Prom!” Continue reading “Under the Twirling Strobe Lights”
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. —Dalai Lama
The sleek blue-grayish Scion TC swiftly moved like a river rushing across the earth. And while doing so, my mind wandered off to how this situation came to be. I was driving my dad’s car back to Bakersfield when I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to borrow a car when I needed a ride, and how trusting my dad was of me to take his while my car was in the shop.
After my car, Susan took a tumble and crashed into a curb, I thought my days of easily getting around Southern California were over. Little did I know an outpouring of love and kindness would help me arrive at where I needed to go. Continue reading “A Philosophy of Kindness”
“They’re calling it ‘Stormageddon,’” she said while scrolling through her Twitter feed. “Oh dear, now people are thinking the drought is over.”
I laughed as she scrolled. I heard the rain over the phone where she was at in the Central Valley just as the rain began to fall over Southern California. It had just started raining in California, and there were already photos of cars crashed in ditches on the side of the road.
“Yeah, they’re calling it the storm of the decade in the Bay area,” I said. “They’re closing schools and everything.”
I could hear the rain picking up a bit outside my window. Cool water pooled in small puddles for the local kids to jump and run through. I watched as upset parents yelled from doorsteps at the children to get inside. Continue reading “Stormageddon and Rainy Days”
A visitor drives in from over the Grapevine and into the thin layer of smog covering the lid of the Central Valley that has been collected from cites all over. The non-local knows only of what he has been told. For the strange new face, Bakersfield is this mystic town filled with locals riding horses on city streets in barren desert. However, he eventually changes his tune after his personal tour guide and former local resident takes him on a journey.
The stranger is taken onto the fertile land, where the majority of the nation’s produce is grown. The visitor realizes how close everything is to the city at the base of the valley. The mountains of Tehachapi, Lake Isabella, Los Angeles, the beaches along the coast, and the family owned farms and dairies, surround the growing city creating new and exciting events and ideas for vacations. Continue reading “L is for the Locals”