I wonder what it’s like to live in one of those cities by the freeway. I just realized how absolutely vague and unhelpful that sentence was, because that’s applicable to just about any place. But I think people get what I mean. Right? Those lonely forgotten towns whose only purpose seems to be to exist by the freeway. To provide gas and rest stops and food for travelers wanting to give their legs a stretch before continuing on their journey. Towns that are specks on a map, places you drive through to get to other places. Never the destination.
And those faaarms. Those acres and acres of farms along the way. Who owns them? Who works there? By the third trip, associations are made along the 5 - that spot in Kern county where the ridiculously cute and polite and unnecessary cop pulled us over for speeding. Or Coalinga, where we stopped for some fast food, the town flanked by farms with “CONGRESS CREATED THE DUST BOWL” and “THE POLITICIANS CREATED THE WATER CRISIS” signs. I remembered my CogSci professor’s stories about her weekends in Central Valley and the people that lived there; it sounded like people whose opinions I couldn’t even pretend to want to hear. I never did understand what her point was; how she could manage to generalize all the people of a big region in California and why she lived there when she only ever did so in an unpositive light.
I get a bar of signal in places, or 3 at most. But the mobile salespeople in these towns probably scoff at anyone who walks in looking for a 4G enabled phone. “Buddy, 3G’s the best you get around here,” they say in my overactive imagination. “If you’re lucky.”
But that’s unfair, because Walnut might have been a speck, they might have all been specks, Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights and San Gabriel and Arcadia and Pasadena. Taipei is a speck on a speck of an island.
And I guess that’s the grand illusion, this inflated view of self-import, a self-aggrandized sense of what’s right and what SHOULD be. It all reeks of privilege and luxury, but in another life I might have been a truck driver. There’s something beautifully simple about keeping your eyes on the road.
Whatever the case, the 5 (or I suppose in NorCal, it’d simply be “5”) is getting just a bit too deep for me. And boring. They just might be synonyms. I don’t think I’m ever making the NorCal-SoCal driving trip again, or at least not for a year or two - but if I do, I think I’d rather take the 101 (“101”). Go along the PCH. Cause isn’t that what living in California is all about?