wrong turns


it is so interesting, I think, as I signal and begin to turn the wheel, that they call it a "business park." it does not seem like a particularly fun place to be.

I let the cracked and faded fake leather slide through my hands as the vehicle rights itself and continues on down the small side road. there is a tiny squeak in the steering column that is always so expressive, and it lets out an inquisitive "hmmm?" as it finishes its rotation, as if to say, "where are we going? I don't recognize this way."

a soft smile warms my face as I regain my grip and the transmission shifts into a more appropriate gear. we're off the main thoroughfare now, and onto streets with dips, gutters, and speed bumps galore.

"business park," I whisper to myself, inaudible against the sounds of rushing air through the open window and the highway just out of sight. "I wonder if this is where they come to play."

the roads and parking lots are barren and empty on this Sunday, and I pass signs that say things like "Ferguson HVAC" and "Champion Light & Sound" or even "Superior Technical Services." the buildings are all very square and uniform, with equally faded brick and matching doors and windows, and each could seemingly be swapped for the other and no one would notice. they all seem to take themselves so seriously, and I wonder if there's a March Madness event for the best temp agency.

I reach the end of the lane and pull into a parking lot to eat my muffin and sip the dirty chai latte that I hope has sufficiently cooled by now. the steering column responds with a gentle "hmmmm," seemingly grateful for a rest, and I shift into park, noting that gas light is on as I pull my keys from the ignition.

one of my favorite weekend activities is to get in the car to run my errands and just start taking wrong turns.

I know where I'm going. I have a plan. there's a list of things to do. but the path to get there is a mystery. I just get in the car and start taking random back streets, or deliberately heading out in the wrong direction.

sometimes I end up in a different city, doing my shopping at a store I've never been to. or I find myself in a friend's neighborhood, and I'll ring them to see if they're home. oftentimes, I'll just drive until I see something beautiful—a tree in bloom, a snowy hillside, a city park full of frisbee golfers—and pull over for a photo opportunity. and then I'll sit against the hood of my car for half an hour or so, enjoying the sun and the breeze, before getting back inside having not touched my phone or camera even once.

when there's a decision in front of me—both figurative and literal forks in the road—my brain still tends to calculate the most efficient route to my destination, and there's a moment of dissonance when I take the other direction.

"why do i feel the need to go that way? why can't i keep wandering?" i protest, sometimes aloud. and then the list if errands returns to mind.

"because Sophie is out of dog food. and I'm out of eggs. and the car's low on gas."

today, it seems everything is hungry.

you discover the most incredible things when you're not looking. a greenhouse tucked beside an onramp. a creek rubbing through a subdivision. it's so ironic that we're the most blind when we're trying to focus. sometimes we're squinting so hard at house numbers that we pass right over our friend waving from the sidewalk.

we feel like we understand our needs, or that we know how to get what we want, because it's easy to conceptualize how the roads can lead us there. there's a system, and we trust it, because without it life seems like chaos.

but life isn't about where we end up. it's about what happens along the way. a taco truck. a botanical garden. and yes, even a business park.

can you live live without destinations? I'm not sure. but I didn't wake up today to eat, I woke up today to live. and for me, that's enough.

I put the keys back in the ignition and twist.

there's an enthusiastic "mm-hmm!" as I turn out of the parking lot and back onto the road out of the business park.

my soul has been fed.

my cup is full.


time to runneth over.