Thursday, October 20, 2011
It was late and dark when I left my mom's house the other night, looking forward to sinking into my soft, warm bed.
My usual route home includes a long back-road, a quick jaunt on the 15 south, and then a stretch of westbound 91 freeway that is only truly passable late at night when the commuters have finished with their commuting.
Everything was normal. My car was running perfectly, George Noory was interviewing a ghost hunter about the Ben Lomond Hotel in Ogden, Utah, and the foggy mist had not yet settled enough to obscure driving. It was a perfect October night.
Except that it was a little late and I was tired.
It wasn't until I pulled into a right lane to merge onto the 91 that I saw the emblazoned message on the Amber Alert sign overhead. The message proclaiming that the exit ramps to the 91 were closed. It was much more than a minor inconvenience and I was immediately irritated at the Department of Transportation for the lack of warning.
I had two choices: turn around and head back the opposite direction to another freeway several miles north of where I needed to be; or get off the freeway, take surface streets, and reconnect with the westward bound 91 a little beyond the closure. The problem with the first option was that it could add another hour to my drive. The problem with the second was that I was wholly unfamiliar with the streets. Always in transit when I pass that part of town, I've never stopped to explore it.
As the choice was made for me and I was forced off at the next exit, I soon discovered why. There was nothing of consequence in this part of town. Nothing except some buildings that held no interest for me, a few dingy railroad tracks, and, further along, the tell tale signs that this was not a good place to linger after sunset.
And it was well beyond sunset.
My GPS was little help. It kept trying to redirect me to the closed down interchange. All I was left with was a feeling. A feeling telling me to keep going.
"Just a little farther," that tiny voice whispered.
The road veered to the left and I traveled west for a mile or two, looking for anything that would indicate I was moving closer to the freeway. Finally, I came across a familiar street and turned, expecting to find an on ramp almost immediately.
It wasn't there.
"Keep going," the voice said.
I rounded a corner and found it. The entrance. My journey home could continue.
It wasn't until I was driving up the ramp that the traffic reporter came on to explain that there had been some kind of police shooting at the very interchange that I had needed. I suppose that was a good reason for the delay.
The road was clear, traffic was light, and it wasn't long before I crossed the line into Orange County and discovered a sign proclaiming that my ramp to the last stretch of freeway was also closed. I had no choice but to take the streets the rest of the way. Fortunately, I know those roads. I was three miles from home and in a less sketchy neighborhood.
But was still unhappy about yet another delay.
It was very late when I finally pulled into my complex, parked, and dragged my worn out self upstairs, collapsing onto the bed in a heap. I can't remember a time when that beautiful pillow top mattress has felt quite so welcoming.
And then I started thinking about all the detours in my life.
There was a time when my life was planned. Perhaps not all the details, but certainly the bullet points.
Most of it has not gone the way it was "supposed" to. Whether by my own choices or by outside forces, I have found myself on one unexpected detour after another. It's taken much longer to reach my destination than I ever dreamed it would.
My GPS isn't working. Sometimes the panic starts to rise a little.
But each time that starts to happen, that voice tells me to keep going. "Just a little farther."
It's not ideal. It's certainly not how I wanted it. At this point, I'm only counting on the hope that it will be worth it.
It has to be.
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