Strangely enough, we both had the same prom dilemma: no dress, no shoes, no reservations at a restaurant, no new make up or perfume, no appointment at the salon, and our nails remained undone. This might have been because both of us had no date. The guy she liked, well, he was a dunderhead (smart, nice, funny, but a dunderhead all the same), and my guy? Well, that was complicated, and remained complicated for years until Steve came along and uncomplicated things. We had two options: stay home and watch the limos drive by without us or we could create our own memories. So it was settled: we would road trip.
Never mind the fact that Ro was 16 and I was 17 and neither of us had our licenses for long. We were going to drive to Pismo Beach for an overnight trip. We would walk on the pier, eat lunch at Splash Cafe, and not think about disappointing boys. Surprisingly, our parents agreed to our road trip and let us go. Feeling very grown up, we called the hotel and made reservations, mapped our route and planned our journey. It was our first time out in the world alone and on our own terms.
There are road trips and then there are road trips. Some are just fun, and some change the course of your life. Ro and I had been friends since junior high when we shared a drama class together. Both of us were “good” girls, goody-two shoes if you will, however we shocked our drama class by putting on a presentation of Mr. Rogers Gets A Visit From His Slutty Mother. I was Mr. Rogers; Ro, my slutty mother. It left our drama teacher baffled. We followed this act later on in high school by putting together a workout routine for PE that included Tommy and The Shondells, “My Baby Does The Hanky Panky.” Our routine was the only one that got all of our other classmates working out. After high school we planned on attending the local university and sharing an apartment.
Ro picked me up in her Camaro early on Saturday morning. It was gray, overcast, and drizzly. We ate breakfast at McDonald’s and then headed south. A few miles outside of town we got a blowout. We were surrounded by farm land, how were we going to get help? Surveying the horizon, I saw an Ace Hardware sign reaching out like a totem, and we trekked over to find someone to change our tire. We split up to scan for a potential helper amongst the nuts, bolts, and patio furniture. I immediately targeted a fine specimen whom I didn’t care if he could change a tire or not, he was cute. Luckily, he had tire-changing abilities. Ro walked up with her found helper, a nice gentlemanly older man. He could have been our grandpa. She beamed, “I found someone to help us!” I nodded and pointed to my guy, “So did I.” Leaving her man in the dust, she walked toward us, “Why, yes, you did!”. Cute Corey, it turns out he had a name, changed our tire as Ro’s parents drove up to escort us to a tire place. Her mother was in tears at our bad luck, scary situation, and all around “bad” time.
New tire installed, enthusiasm unshaken, we drove on. We arrived in Pismo Beach and checked in. We had our clam chowder at Splash Cafe, we walked on the pier, and we looked at more cute (surfer) boys. The next day on a whim and to be adventurous, we decided to stop in the little town of San Luis Obispo (SLO). SLO has it all: it enjoys the beauty and rolling hills of the central coast, but because it’s inland, it doesn’t get the fog that graces oceanside towns. It has a cute downtown area with the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa built in 1772. There’s shopping, a farmer’s market, and youthful, laid back feel. It’s also home to Cal Poly. Ro fell in love.
“This is it! This is where I need to be,” I remember her saying. Just like that, our futures changed. Ro did go to Cal Poly, and I found that I needed to be about 500 miles in the opposite direction at Humboldt State. We were two teenage girls who survived a blowout, found help, and did not get discouraged. We went far away from home (granted only for one night) and survived. This trip showed us what we capable of and revealed what kind of people we were: adventurous spirits for whom staying at home just wasn’t going to cut it. We could have stayed home that weekend and focused on what we didn’t have; instead we went out and found possibilities.