Impromptu Joy Ride

I was pulling the car out to get to the garbage bins. but instead of leaving the car idling in the driveway, hopping out, and finishing my chores, I just kept backing out.

At first, I was just going to go around the block and pull back in, but the beats were good, and it was a warm enough evening to open the sunroof. So I took a left instead of a right.

An impromptu joy ride.

The song ended, and the vibe changed, but I was already committed, so I pulled up the curb, scrolled through some old faves on Spotify, and found Propellerheads — a killer late 90’s EDM album with the clever title “decksanddrumsandrockandroll”

Great album, but there’s a standout song: Take California. The bassline just makes you want to drive, and then when the beat drops, you feel like you’re in a movie: the good guy going out for vigilante justice, the hero hunting down a treasure.

It was this song that I listened to on my very first car ride in my very first car: a 1990 Toyota Camry LE. It cost me $9,900, more than I ever paid for anything EVER, and I was proud I talked the owner down that extra $100. She kinda laughed.

I had the song picked out and popped it on the minute I left her driveway: Rt 280, Redwood City to San Francisco’s Outer Sunset. A lusciously curvy, speedy freeway. I played that shit on repeat 6 or 7 times, all the windows down, sunroof slid back, flying in the dark, enjoying the empty lanes at 9 o’clock at night.

And here I was doing it again, only this time I’m driving the streets of Oakland and the car wasn’t used; it was new and cost much more than $9,900. And was big enough to accomodate 4 child seats — certainly part of its allure.

How far I’ve come.

Reflecting on my first car during that impromptu joy ride was like reading an old journal; you have to laugh at yourself: so serious, so wrapped up in the problems at hand, tied in knots over things long since solved. The writing is so dire, filled with tons of absolutes: I’ll never be able to… why is this so… it always happens this way…

All that figuring… pages and pages of scheming plans and coming up with workarounds, rationalizing, wishing, masking regret with lessons learned.

In the wisdom of old age you learn to value perseverance over almost everything else.

However I’m feeling, whatever is happening, just keep moving forward.

Better advice than any genie can give.

That and taking a joy ride through the streets of your town in between taking out the trash and putting the kids to bed.

Those two things will get you far.

Keep moving, enjoy the wind in your hair, remember what you’ve been through, and be proud of how far you’ve come.

Take California.