Am I a bad driver? Personally, I would say that I’m a wonderful driver; so far, I’ve mostly only hit inanimate objects. Yet for some unfathomable reason, I have earned a reputation as a notoriously poor operator of vehicles. A friend’s recent comparison of my car to a “death machine” forces me to consider that there may be a ring of truth to my unfortunate label.
The truth is, every day, I arduously skid down the knotted twists and turns of Coldwater Canyon with extreme difficulty. Only when I reach the bottom of the hill do my muscles relax. A mere few hours later, however, I must once again face the plight of maneuvering my way back up, blood pressure rising steadily the entire way home.
At least twice a day, the uneven hillside dirt fades away to become the glowing, neon lights of the Rainbow Road; my black SUV shrinks into a compact cartoon race-car, and I, little Mario clad in red and blue, frantically grapple the steering wheel, lurching side to side in a desperate attempt to avoid tumbling off the slippery edge.
In the mornings, it was the winding yellow brick road, leading me to the Emerald City with all of the world’s knowledge stored within those shining automated security gates. In the evenings, it was my country road, taking me home to the place where I belong, a path back to my family lined with streetlights at its crooked sides. It didn’t matter if I was heading North to school or South to go home, I was never lost on Coldwater.
High school was like an odyssey for me, a long and taxing journey, taking me to peaks I had never imagined possible, but also casting me down at times, forcing me to learn how to stand back up when it seemed like everything had gone wrong. But whether it was my stairway to heaven or my descent into the underworld, it was always the same winding road that led me there.
From the island dwellings of Gods to monsters’ gaping jaws to the safety of his home port, Odysseus had the ever-churning sea to propel him forward. I had Coldwater Canyon.
For the rest of my life, I’ll always remember that meandering canyon road, the green glow of a stoplight in midnight fog and the crunch of crumbling pebbles beneath my wheels. Most of all, I’ll remember the destination at the end of the route, the place where I met my friends, where I discovered jazz, where I became a journalist, where I laughed and cried and learned.