To say I don't get out much is an understatement. During the past thirteen years, even before chronic pain and fatigue caused me to embrace my inner shut-in, I hardly ever ventured farther than walking down the street to the beach. Before moving to Anaheim, a road trip meant driving seventeen miles to Disneyland.
So when my boyfriend surprised me by suggesting a spontaneous day trip up to
Lake Arrowhead Village this past Saturday, I shocked myself by saying, "I have one Vicodin left! Let's go!"
After dropping my daughter off at work at Disney California Adventure, we got ready for our own. A quick stop at home to grab a jacket and my crochet ('cause you should never leave home without it), then to the corner grocery store for provisions (i.e., Lunchables). We were now on our way to the mountain.
Towards the end of nineteen-seventy-nine, just shy of turning five, I went with my parents on a trip up north. Somewhere along the way, I developed a fear of the mountains and their long, narrow, two-lane winding roads. Over the years as a kid, we would make a rare, one-day visit to the local Southern California mountains. But mostly I would go on summer vacations with my grandparents to Santa Barbara by going over the Grapevine and praying to the gods not to get smashed between a big rig and the mountain ridge. It has been nearly two decades since I have been up in our national forests. And the unease has not decreased in that time, as it became apparent on our way to Lake Arrowhead.
I'd been clutching my seat when Michael asked me to cancel something on his phone. Slowly releasing my grip on the chair, I leaned forward to reach it, but I felt like I was going to tip over and fall out of the car if I moved. Totally the same reaction as when I ride the teacups at Disneyland. Mike kept making sure I was hanging in there all right (I kept assuring him I was fine), until he nonchalantly took advantage of a turnout so I could get my shit together. What I didn't see then was the tree who looked like he was going to lose his if we noticed him.
We hit the road again quickly though, wanting to get to the village before too long. We'd left Anaheim late in the afternoon and it takes about an hour and a half to get up to the lake. After our short rest stop, I made an effort to relax, worried what the tension was doing to my body. We'd driven a much shorter distance to San Diego in December for a Christmas party and I wasn't even able to get out of the car. But this time I had one pain medication in my system, and a stronger one in my purse (legally prescribed, of course). By the time we arrived in Lake Arrowhead, I was no worse for wear than when at home.
Traveling through town, it was easy to imagine we weren't in California anymore. For a little while, my fantasy of living in Forks, Washington felt like it was coming to life. As we drove farther up the highway, traffic came to a standstill due to a car accident that was being cleared away. Mike was on his phone, hopefully downloading Heads Up or Trivia Crack to pass the time, but instead, he was looking for an alternative route. Which led us to discover we were heading straight for the Lake Arrowhead Country Club. We threw a U-turn and got back on track.