Monday, May 24, 2010

Lessons in Road Trips

Brought to you by the 101, Sheryl Crow, Natalie Merchant and, well, yes....cupcakes.  (one)

I had an urgent need to rent a car and head north this weekend. Something in my brain and in my heart is feeling full of uncertainty in nearly every area of my life and the only thing that made sense was to drive.

I learned a couple things along the way. Well, you knew that, didn’t you? *smile*

1. The guy behind the counter has big dreams.
My car is janky, that has been made clear by now and the need for me to rent something less-janky was apparent. I went to Enterprise and ended up with a sweet ride at a sweet deal. More importantly, Enterprise Guy Behind The Counter Reading Kurt Vonnegut surprised me. Not only was he kind, major Enterprise Shocker but he spilled his guts, “This isn’t what I want to be doing.”

How many can echo that statement?

He’s a writer and he doesn’t know what to do and it sounds like no one believes in him. Well, I do. And I did. And I gave him some very good tips wrapped in a very good cheer and went on my way. He walked back behind the counter in his black suit with an extra creative skip in his step.

2. Stop for blueberries.
When you see a sign that says, “Blueberries Ahead ¾ of a mile” you stop. You do. And stop for other such things. Make hard rights instead of staying on the path and on your itinerary. If blueberries present themselves, well, then blueberries shall be.

3. Ask your expert advisor.
I have finally learned to rely on my expert advisors especially when it comes to bakeries. They know things, those bakery girls. Ask them what people order the most and get that. Don’t get the other thing. And definitely don’t get the thing you ALWAYS order. That’s the last thing you want to do on a road trip. Blah.

Oh, and buy sweet orange marmalade with pretty pink labels because it would be a crime not to. (I love pink bakery boxes with tape on the side and the ones tied with string make me want to swoon.)

4. A mess is okay.
Yesterday I played Natalie Merchant most of the day while driving and although I adore her if I heard, “If no one ever marries me” one more time I was going to drive my car into The Pacific and keep my seatbelt on. I switched things up to Sheryl Crow today and she had a nice, really multicultural mix going on and that set well with my soul. And one song, whether you agree with the message or not, had a great line, “God bless this mess.”

God bless this mess. That’s me. That’s my life right about now. It’s a little messy. I’m a bit out of sorts. That’s what all the driving is about and needing to move and think and sing and write and put things into compartments when they are floating around loosely in my head. I don’t like things floating around loosely in my head. It hurts.

I pulled over on the side of the road and messaged a new sweet friend who made the comment, “It’s okay” after discussing some of her very not okay things. Sometimes it’s not okay and sometimes it’s a mess and that is okay and a mess is okay and trying to make it not a mess makes it even messier.

For now, I’m going to rest in the mess of it all.

5. Find pockets of prettiness.
They are out there and they are so close to you and you don’t even know it. Mere miles away and I finally made it to Abbot Kinney in downtown Venice. I always thought Venice was full of naked jugglers on the beach and so I wasn’t in much of a rush to visit. There’s more to it. Yup. Pockets of prettiness are all over the place if you take the time to search them out and get outside of your routine.

I finally found somewhere to park and was immersed in gorgeous shops, great food trucks just parked along the street and the kindest shop owners that didn’t treat me like I was an Orange County Jackass. I like that.

Oh, if you go, make sure you wear some shade of blah. Much easier to fit in if fitting in is what you want to do. (It’s my new favorite place. Shh.)

A couple more things for the road.

1. That girl you saw in the Oliver Peoples in a gray tshirt and striped sweater rolling down her window and talking, well, yelling, to the ocean? That wasn’t me.

2. Found a shop that treats you well and is kind to you when you walk in the door? Frequent it. I found one that had all these imports from Paris and every corner turned there were more pieces and parts and pretty things to see and touch and explore and sometimes I forget that there is that much pretty out there. There is.

3. The woman behind the ticket counter at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art asked if I needed a student admission. I think everyone should go there all the time. Forever.

4. There are a lot of crazies in Santa Barbara. I fit right in.

5. There are a couple more crazies in Venice but less so, I’d say it’s more about The Pot. Everyone’s rather, ehem, happy and relaxed and really take their time crossing the street.

6. If you drive to Solvang and remember it looks just like it did 15 years ago, make a u-turn.

7. Dosas (Indian crepes) are good. So are cupcakes off trucks. So are baked goods on State St. Before I came home, I bought a new scale. No, really I did.

I have to turn the rental car back in today.  I have to turn the weekend back in today also.  It's back to normal playlists and office meetings and corporate attire with "no embellishments" and certainly "no colored jewelry" and things of that sort.

I'll wait for another weekend and perhaps go on another adventure and head in another direction and even if the arrow points in one direction I might go another.  It all depends where the blueberries are planted.

Much love this Messy Monday,
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