Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ghost of Road Trips Past

So, a friend of mine did a play here in Portland and it was a HUGE success.  The person was not from the Portland area and when the play was done, he went back home for a few months. I missed him terribly. Then, he was hired to recreate the role in Los Altos, California (I believe).  This was in the fall of 1990.  I really wanted to see him in the play, but the world hadn't really progressed to the kinds of commuter flights that Southwest provides now (read: CHEAP) or I didn't know about it if they did offer them.  After some discussion with a friend of mine, we decided to drive down to San Francisco (past it to Los Altos, really).

Some back story:  I worked for the school district as an educational interpreter during the previous school year. During the summer, I worked for the same coffee company I had worked in when I was in college. That summer, I pinched my sciatic nerve and experienced excruciating pain in my back and down my leg (it actually went on for more than a year, but that is a whole other story). Fast forward to the first week back working for the school district. I was in so much pain, I limped when I walked and I had to drive using my left foot on the brake and accelerator because my right leg was in so much pain.  Brilliantly, my friend and I decide to drive to Los Altos - 15 hours in the car, each way.

My friend and I had never traveled anywhere together and I was just 23 years old and hadn't realized yet that traveling with someone can make or break a friendship. We got a rental car on Friday afternoon and started off. My friend was not comfortable with me driving, so she drove the whole way. We had both made mixed tapes, but our tastes in music were REALLY different - particularly for a road trip.  I was having trouble sitting for that long and finally fell asleep which upset her greatly - "You are supposed to keep me company!"  I asked her if we could put some music on. Since she was the driver, I thought it was fair to let her choose the music. The tape she had was James Taylor and Kenny Loggins, I believe. Now, I love them both but NOT WHEN WE ARE DRIVING FOR 15 HOURS!!  I could not stay awake. I felt badly but I just couldn't do it. When I'm tired, I like to listen to rowdy, fun music that you can sing and groove to - James Taylor just doesn't fit the bill. He is too mellow for me in the car.  Let's just say it was a LONG drive down.

The other point of interest in this story is that my friend would only eat at nationally known restaurants (I seem to know a lot of those people). During that trip, we ate at Denny's 6 times in 3 days. I could go 10 years and not eat at Denny's that many times. Her rationale was that you could always predict what the Denny's food was going to be like - every Denny's had a Grand Slam or pancakes or a Ham and Cheese omelet and they would pretty much taste the same, no matter which Denny's you went to.  Now, in my mind, this is precisely the reason you SHOULDN'T eat at Denny's, but I didn't win that argument, either.

So, we drove for 15 hours, arriving in Los Altos at our "Fiesta Style" Holiday Inn. We went into the hotel room and went to bed exhausted.  A few hours later, I woke up because my friend had thrown a pillow at me and told me to go sleep in the bathtub because I snored.  I was PISSED.  I told her, "If it bothers you so much, why don't YOU go sleep in the bathroom?" and I went back to sleep. It wasn't meant to be - the phone rang a couple of hours later and it was the California Relay - my actor friend was calling to see when we should meet up.

The saddest part is that I barely remember the play or the time in Los Altos - we were only there for a very short time. I remember being at the house where my actor friend was staying - GORGEOUS!!! We went to the play - it was good, but I was biased for the Portland production. It was so great to see my friend again (he later moved to Portland).  After the play, a bunch of the actors, my friends and I went to a bowling alley for a few hours where we ate and bowled a few games. It was fun, but not that memorable. Then, back to the hotel for a few hours of shut eye and up by 7am to get on the road.

By the time we got back into the car on Sunday, neither one of us were looking forward to the ride home - we had kind of had it with each other. We talked some and then went into another round of James Taylor.  I think, at the time, I was into dance music and had been hanging out at The Embers and CC Slaughters downtown with my Deaf friends, so I probably had stuff like Dead or Alive, Prince, Erasure,  Madonna...I don't even know what was popular at that time, but it was NOT James Taylor.  We stopped at a few Denny's on the way but I was so irritated, I almost couldn't eat. I remember that when we stopped in Grant's Pass on the way home, I ended up eating, paying and going out to sit in the car until she came out. I'm sure the ride home was no fun for her either. Meanwhile, I'm in massive amounts of pain from my back...

When we arrived home, we said our goodbyes and barely ever spoke to each other again. Really. Almost never. And sometime in the middle of that year, she quit her job as an interpreter and then we didn't even have that in common anymore.

I like to think that if something like that were to happen now, I would be smarter about it, but I guess if I did the same thing again, it would have a similar outcome.  I have seen that friend a few times since, but really, that road trip was the end for me. I know it probably doesn't sound like much here - I don't have a lot of clear memories of what we said or did, just visual images, residual feelings. I have learned that traveling with friends takes a lot of work and that you should really know the person pretty well before you EVER get in a car with them for more than say, 2 hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Widget by LinkWithin