In high school I drove my parents mini-Van when I needed to get somewhere. Well, realistically this was just for a 7 month period after I got my license but before I got my own car. That hunter green Camry would last until the December after Ali and I got married when I totaled it on the way to take a final exam in seminary. It was supposed to be a quick trip from the apartment to campus but the black ice had other plans. The impact to the back of a Toyota Highlander was enough to destroy the front end of my car but not set off the airbags. Somehow, the insurance check was well above the value of a 10 year old car with 285,000+ miles.
I’m now on my second Camry and still putting miles on it like there’s no tomorrow. Which is to say, I know a thing or two about road trips. For the past 13 years, I’ve regularly driven from central Florida to East Tennessee, so much so that I think I have I-75 memorized. I’m also pretty good with I-20 from Birmingham to Dallas, I-10 from Louisiana to Jacksonville, and I-81 through Virginia. Not to mention all of I-4.
What I was less familiar with is any driving in California. Or at least until recently. I awoke the first morning in San Fransisco and immediately struck out on my own. We were technically staying in a suburb called Burlingame. It has a small downtown square area which my senses (read: app) told me had a Starbucks. The whole trip took about 15 minutes, but it was my first solo excursion.
I returned to have the first of many continental breakfasts, and then through the process of natural selection, be paired with 6 high schoolers for the remainder of the trip. Ali went through this process as well, and end up paired with a mixed gender van. I had six 17-18 versions of myself, which is to say boys who liked my taste in music, could talk or just be fine staring out the window, and would spend a fair amount of time reading or thinking during our coming days of driving. I even had an INTJ riding shotgun most of the time.
Of all the mini-vans, mine was the only non-neutral color. Whereas everyone else had Kia’s, Nissans, or Toyotas of muted grays and blues, I had a red Dodge SXT. This would fortunately not prove problematic and I successfully logged many miles without a state trooper incident. It also meant I never lost the car in a parking garage. In contrast to the black 2003 Camry I drive, it was a nice change of pace. It was also, oddly like high school all over again, since that was the last time I consistently drove a van.
While I realize time travel is not technically possible (even if you allow for wormholes), this trip was certainly close. I was going back to places I had only been as a high schooler and was now doing so with other high schoolers who barely existed on my last trip.