Have you ever spent a large amount of time doing something tedious or trivial and suddenly discovered something about the universe? Like staring at a pond for several wasted hours that you won’t get back and suddenly realizing that where there’s water there is life; or you look at the sand and realize that 99 percent of all species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct.
Heavy stuff. There’s a point I was making, but I’ll save it for later.
I swear I’m not high, just listening to Adele’s 25 as I write this so I’m a bit emotional okay.
Well, let’s step back. One doesn’t just arrive in California on a road trip. That’s silly.
So it’s 8 o’clock in the morning, I’m groggy and under-caffeinated as per usual. I swear to God, I need an I.V., patched into my everything just to sustain. Like Bane’s crunk juice in George Clooney’s version of Batman and Robin.
Anyway, we’re loading onto the bus because we’ve got a task to perform before we take to the last part of our three state skip to California; our task? Bagging groceries.
Now, before you say, “But wait… you’re not grocer!”
Let me just say, it was all in the name of good, moral community service. That’s right, me and my all too familiar companions loaded onto an all too familiar bus, and took to a less than familiar road toward St. Mary’s Food Bank to do the peoples work.
I don’t think I’ve ever worked an assembly line/grocery packing job before. It was quite enlightening.
When we arrived, we took our group photo because when a group of millenials and generation z’ers show up anywhere we show up with the selfie game on swole. (just been informed by spell check that “swole” is not a real word. Who knew?)
Then we took to the stores of vegetables and fresh produce located in the factory-like section of the Food bank, passing by lines of less-fortunate people waiting to get a bag of groceries to feed themselves and their loved ones. It makes you feel a certain way as a college student as you’re derping along on Spring Break having fun in places where people are coming to survive.
But in truth, soon tuition debt will probably be bending the lot of us over a counter and ramming us hard and we will know the struggle of life as well.
Anyway, we get back to the factory where the bags of groceries are being assembled and we’re greeted by the thundering EDM and dubstep music that is – I imagine – lulling all the workers into a drone like state so that they will work until they drop.
Nah, just kidding.
There was electronic music blasting, but the people seemed to be having a good time.
We were broken into groups and dispersed to manage the responsibility of assigned labor. Some of us were breaking down boxes, some of us were inspecting food items to make sure they were serve-able, others were taking crates and transport palettes to their appropriate places; you know, standard assembly line stuff.
Oh there was this kid, who I eventually found out, had been suspended from school so his dad (who worked there) brought him up to the food bank perhaps as punitive action. He couldn’t have been more than 11, but he was a little tyrant. For pretty much the first hour that I was working with him on lettuce duty, he pelted this poor lady with balls of lettuce every time she would get mentally comfortable with living. Then he’d walk up to her and pretend to be serious and say, “Do you think I should throw this away or put it in the bag to be served?” When the lady would take it for a closer look ….
One of our group members succumbed to his games as well and called him a little asshole, which is a bit of an overreaction in my opinion from a college student to an 11-year-old. But it is what it is.
I’m pretty sure our group almost destroyed the box compactor, which sucks for the food bank – but hey … it is what it is.
So eventually we got out of dodge around noon and took a 30 minute lunch then loaded back on the bus to depart from the state of Arizona and make the final journey West.
On the one hand, I think we were all excited to be, at last, on the road to California — but on the other hand, being on a bus for like 20 hours really does temper the emotions. We’d all gotten to know each other pretty well by this point, so we were passing the time with infuriating bus riddles, games of Heads Up, miscellaneous movies that the lot of us had brought along, and sleep. All the while, you were being cramped to death; you felt … well, I guess we felt like someone had just …
… physically and emotionally….
There was a bathroom on the bus, but we had to be careful cause if we used it to often the bus would begin to smell like the ripe, yellowing, penurious, tangy fumes of urine.
But the people sitting in the back of the bus, where the bathroom was located, had created a fortress of legs and blankets that one would have to brave if they wanted passage to the bathroom so the problem was self-solved really. People probably just chose to wet themselves instead of mastering gymnastics and risking pulled hammy’s trying to high step human beings.
But alas, we finally did arrive in the land promised to us when we set out on this adventure. The wellspring of America; the haven which gave us hope; the oasis at the end of the journey. We made it to Claremont Covenant Church in the state of California.
The church, which mind you this wasn’t a religious trip, had this cool little courtyard where a few of us threw a frisbee around while the others unpacked, figured out our sleeping situations, unpacked the air mattresses and sleeping bags, and living essentials.
It was kind of weird actually seeing palm trees. I’m just a humble Oklahoman with not but God, grass, grain, and guns to keep me occupied. That last one was a joke, but not really, you know?
But there were a lot of firsts for me that happened when I got to California. For starters, I took my first Uber ride, which if you don’t know is when you basically beckon a complete stranger to come and pick you up to take you somewhere and pray to whatever god you pray to that it’s not a murderer.
More importantly though, I saw the ocean for the first time that night. All my coast friends are always like, “It’s not that big of a deal, ya hippie. It’s just a large god damn body of water. Big whoop.”
But it was a big effing deal. Our Uber driver dropped us off, pretty much right next to the beach – after getting lost for a bit. Like, he kept asking us for a specific address, which is fair. But at one point, I was so frustrated that I was internally like, “Can you just take us to the god damn ocean? Whatever freaking Boulevard that is on!”
Like, Jesus Christ.
But as we got out of the car, you could already hear it. The roar of the sea. It’s kind of unlike any other sound. In the beginning I kind of eluded to how you can understand bigger pictures when you stare at stuff for a while. Well, we walked around on the beach and I couldn’t help looking out and thinking about how freaking large the world is.
Warning, total hippie thought coming up. But we stepped into the ice cold drink and I was like, “this water is touching another continent.” And here I am.
Like sure we have a ton of really big lakes, but they don’t sound like that. It was night time, so you couldn’t see it until you actually walked out onto the sand; it was just this expanse of nothing. But as you got closer you could see the waves rolling in and my imagination just ran wild.
Leagues and miles of endless water just flowing and rippling and twisting and turning.
Maybe I am a hippy at heart, but it was really freaking cool.
And that was the start of California.
To be continued.