My (Best?) Carpooling Memories
I used to drive an hour to school every day. Because my dad taught a zero-period band class, that meant leaving my house at six in the morning. Each morning, I would spend the first half or two-thirds of the car ride fast asleep. Then I would wake up to my sister having blasted the heat so that the car was 90 degrees (I’m not kidding, my dad had a thermometer on his briefcase). Sweating, I would argue with her about turning down the heat, eat whatever my mother had packed me for breakfast (usually something good because she felt bad for us) and then I would fall back asleep for the last ten minutes of the ride. Upon waking up, it would (once again) be boiling in the car and my sister would be sweating in triumph next to me.
My sister used to go to summer camps when we were kids. I never did because I didn’t like the idea of having to make new friends that I would lose a week later, having no free time for an entire seven days, and showering in bug-infested bathrooms. So I didn’t go to summer camps. Instead, my dad and I used to go down to Santa Barbara to visit my grandmother during the weeks my sister was gone. One time, we decided to make a vacation out of it. We stopped first at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I’d never been to before. I’m notoriously antagonistic towards science, but those jellyfish are pretty incredible. Then, after visiting with his mother, we went to Santa Cruz Island for two days of camping and hiking. We read Alfred Hitchcock scary stories by flashlight inside our tent and I made him tell me every story he had in his repertoire. Probably not as great a memory for him as it is for me, but I love it all the same.
Who Says Two Hours?
One of my close friends and I were intending to go to the first day of a music festival. It was about 60 miles from us. Being the Northern California girls that we are, we didn’t give ourselves much more than an hour to get to the venue. Upon getting in the car, we realized the estimated time for arrival was almost forty minutes after my favorite band was scheduled to play. Now, keep in mind that my friend’s car is a mini cooper painted like a union jack. Somehow, she managed to cut out half an hour from our travel time, and we even got a nearby parking space thanks to a security guard who we bribed with a Carl’s Jr. cheeseburger. We entered the festival just as the band started their first song, and it was absolutely amazing.
The Ghost of I-5
I was carpooling with a friend home for Christmas break. We didn’t end up leaving until close to 7 at night, because we both had late finals. By the time we did leave, it was already dark. As we were driving, it started to rain, and soon our visibility was significantly diminished. At one point, I even saw his confidence shaken by the difficulty of the drive, which didn’t do much for my nerves. But he continued to drive at a solid 90 mph, which terrified me but matched my desire to finally get home. Then, as we were approaching a turn, I saw something bright white glowing on the side of the road. At first I thought it was some sort of bright plastic bag, but as we neared the object I saw a human figure. The longer I stared and the closer we got, the more clear the outline of the glowing figure became. It was just shuffling aimlessly along the side of the highway. I looked to my friend to see if he had noticed the figure as well, thinking maybe we should pull over and ask if they needed help, but he had his eyes anxiously fixed on the blurry road before him. I turned back to look at the figure. I saw nothing. There was not even a bag to account for the glowing white spot I had been staring at. Beware the ghost of I-5.