We loaded up into ol’ Ruby headed to a neighboring town to interview for a college internship at a photography studio. We decided to make a road trip out of it and to get a jump start on next semester. It was our summer vacation, after all.. What’s work with no play? No fun, that’s what! The key to happiness is balance. My gal pal and I were attached at the hip: we worked together, had all the same classes, and even carpooled to save some dough! We fit the stereotypical college student roles perfectly: always broke, starving.. I mean, striving artists! We had to be creative to survive in this cruel world.
“Daphne, when ya gonna get your A.C. fixed?! I’m melting,” I complained again while staring out the passenger window.
“♪♫ Shyanne.. I’m working on it.. Ol’ Ruby needs some TLC-eeeee.. she’s an expensive Drama Queeeeeen! Just put your window all the way dowwwwwn ♬,” Daphne sang along with the blaring radio.
I didn’t wanna mess up my hair, but decided since I was already a hot mess, I might as well just let the fresh country air blow away the beads of sweat off my freckled face. I fiddled with the squeaky, manual window crank and with each rotation, felt my arm muscles spasm.
“Add a can of WD-40 to the laundry list for ol’ Ruby,” I stated as both of our butts lifted up out of the maroon front bench seat. “Hey! Take it easy on these hills.. You know I get car sick.. We ain’t hill hoppin’..”
“I can’t help it, I’m going the speed limit,” Daphne stated matter-of-factly.
“Do ya have a litter bag? Just in case?” I pleaded as my stomach gurgled.
“Yeah, in the glove box. Just make sure to slam it.. when you close it.. Ol’ Ruby is temperamental,” Daphne chuckled while patting the dusty dashboard. “Are we heading in the right direction, Miss Navigator?”
“Yeah, just keep West,” I replied with a cough and sneeze. I took a couple deep breaths in and out and closed my eyes. I surprised myself with a quick recovery. All those long road trips with my family semi-prepared me on how to deal with my car sickness. My dad would purposely give it the gas over hills just to churn my stomach. Anything for a laugh.. but I never laughed.
Daphne interrupted my thought, “Did you bring your camera?”
“You know it,” I squealed while unveiling my new digital camera like a Bob Barker Beauty.
“Yay! Let’s document our adventure,” Daphne suggested and wiggled in her seat. “Everything is so green!”
“It sure is,” I exclaimed as I wrapped the camera strap around my wrist and fastened it against my pale skin. I grasped the camera tightly, peered through the viewfinder, and snapped dozens of photos outside the passenger window. I adjusted the angle and zoom to capture a good variety. I tried not to get my reflection in the side mirror in every shot. That would be a totally amateur move!
I put the camera in my lap as I closed my eyes, stretched out my neck to breathe in the crisp country air, and to feel the warm sun upon my rosy cheeks. The radio changed to a commercial and it reverted me back to reality. As I was scrolling through the camera preview screen to see what I had captured, I announced with a frown, “I can’t seem to get a shot in focus or with the correct amount of exposure.” I let out a sigh.
“Well, that’s okay! Even out of focus and overexposed photos can be interesting,” Daphne reassured me. “Post them anyway, tag me of course, and maybe they’ll grow on you. Different always stands out from the crowd,” Daphne gave me a playful wink and smiled at her own advice.
I stuck my tongue out at her and we both giggled like little school girls. Oh, how I admired Daphne’s style; she really did march to the beat of her own drum. Her creativity was contagious and I was itching to be inspired. I had learned a lot from Daphne’s carefree attitude in and outside of the classroom. My OCD forced my artwork to color inside the lines. I relished the fact she could create an unorganized yet interesting piece of art and it still be professional! Such talent at such a young age. Daphne was a couple-ish years my junior, but seemed to be wise beyond her years. We were similar in that way. We both had our shit together: responsible, independent, mature women who loved expressing ourselves in a colorful way, which could be perceived as.. immature.
“Shyanne, I think I took a wrong turn.. I don’t see signs for Broomfield anymore,” Daphne muttered as she frantically read each passing road sign.
“Oh, man.. Okay.. Pull over,” I instructed while examining our Colorado state map. “Alright, we were going West and turned to pass through Westminster, haha.. get it?! West, Westminster.. What a co-inky-dink!”
“Very punny,” Daphne teased.
“Okay, we’re in Thorton; the city, not the gas station! Haha,” I looked up from the map at Daphne and she stifled a laugh. I continued, “Take 25 North, then get off at 128 West, and we should be there in no time!”
“Whew! I’m glad you’re the navigator,” Daphne admitted as she checked to rejoin traffic.
“You just gotta know how to read a map! My mom taught me,” I gloated while folding the map carefully.
“And.. you know how to correctly fold a map! I mean.. you’re a freak of nature,” Daphne joked. “You sure you’re not an alien from outer space?!”
“Ya caught me!” I confessed as I put up both hands. “We’re headed to a spaceship where me and my alien comrades are gonna beam you up to our lab and probe you!”
“Okay, but don’t give me too much laughing gas because I’ll cry laugh and I’m an ugly crier,” Daphne pleaded with her big hazel puppy dog eyes.
We finally looked at each other and just lost it. We had a non-stop giggle fit for a solid minute. “Fun fact,” I giggled in between words, “Area 51.. is in.. Lincoln County.. Nevada.. which is like.. 10 hours away.. hope you.. got enough gas.. to get.. ol’ Ruby there!” I pulled out a US map to examine for comedic effect.
Daphne poked the map into my nose. “Girl, you are something else! I’m getting kinda hungry, you wanna stop off somewhere?”
“Do you really have to ask?! Oh! There’s a Mickey D’s!”
“Why isn’t there an Unhappy Meal for adults?” Daphne asked with a straight face.
“If there was, what would the toy be?”
“A mini bottle of alcohol! Duh!”
“Oh. My. God. Yeesss! Let’s pitch them this idea and we’ll be bazillionaires!”
“After we pay off all of our student loans, we’ll have just enough money leftover to buy.. an Unhappy Meal!”
We lost it again. Our giggle fest continued. We heard one of our favorite songs on the radio from a band we just bought concert tickets to see in the fall, so we just had to stay in ol’ Ruby to rock out until the very end of the song. I played air guitar while Daphne drummed on the steering wheel. We dramatically serenaded one another while holding hands during the last verse.
“We should cut a record!” Daphne exclaimed as we were walking across the parking lot. She glanced to me for approval, but I shook my head. “We could sing back up!” We both shook our heads and continued walking. “I got it!” She stopped, so I stopped.. and we glared at one another. She paused for dramatic effect.. “We could be hype girls!”
“Yeeeeeesssss!” We danced all the way into the restaurant and stood in a long line to order.
“Shyanne, check it! There’s a vending machine over there! Wanna get a temporary tattoo?!”
“Oohh! Well, I mean.. we gotta look our best for the interview!”
We scrounged up just enough change. “On the count of three, let’s open ’em together,” Daphne whispered.
We counted together, “1.. 2.. 3..”
“I gotta flaming guitar! What’d you get?!” Daphne asked.
“I gotta spider in its web! Where should we put them?” I asked.
“Hmm.. I don’t know.. Oh! I know!.. On our necks! We gotta show ’em off! We’re hype girls! We gotta look the part..”
“Risky. Wild. Daring. I like it. Let’s do it! After we eat..”
We found a booth near a window facing a quaint little court yard. Daphne went over to save our seats while I went to fill up our cups at the soda machine.
“What do you want to drink?” I asked over my shoulder.
“Hi-C with a little ice!” Daphne excitedly replied.
“You got it!” I skipped across the dining area and sang what I was doing, “♪♫ Fill this cup with a little ice. Yeaahhh.. Pour some Hi-C. Oohh.. Overflooooooooow ♬”
“You gotta nice voice,” a police officer commented as he grabbed a handful of napkins.
“Uhhh.. thank you,” I muttered as my cheeks turned beet red. Oh, how I blushed! I quickly cleaned up my mess from the spilt soda on the counter and hurried over to join Daphne, “That copper just complimented my singing,” I whispered. “I was just being silly.. Guess I sound better than I thought..”
“Girl, I’ll sing backup for ya,” Daphne blurted out.. a little louder than she intended. She instantly noticed the other diners glaring at us.
I giggled quietly, “You gotta audition first.” We both dipped our french fries into the same ranch dressing container. “Hey, I like your nails, where do you get them done at?!”
“Oh, I do ’em myself!” Daphne shoved her perfectly manicured hand in my face. “I just slap on the polish and let the paint fall off my fingers when I get a shower the next day..”
“Sounds like a foolproof process right there,” I declared in awe. “I’ll have to try that sometime. What color is that by the way?” I stuffed half a dozen fries in my mouth at once.
“Burgundy Sunset Bliss,” she dramatically quoted with a wave.
“Hell if I know. Sounds like a color to me.”
“You should submit that to Pantone!”
“I just might,” Daphne mumbled through a mouthful of her double cheeseburger.
We made a couple pit-stops along the way as we walked down the street to the photography studio for Daphne’s interview. We captured some Kodak moments: Daphne posed in front of a white picket fence with her Mickey D’s cup o’ Hi-C. I posed leaning against a brick wall in an alley because my alter ego grew up in The Outsiders.
This story doesn’t have a traditional beginning, middle, and end. It just abruptly stops.. because unfortunately.. my friend’s life abruptly stopped. I decided to highlight the good times we had together while she was a part of my life. Life’s a B..lur. The world is moving at such a high speed.. that every once and awhile.. I just gotta stop.. and enjoy it.. and appreciate it for what it is.. before it’s too late.
I enjoyed traveling down memory lane, thumbing through my ol’ photo albums, and sharing an inspired by my true experience with y’all this week (an excerpt, if you will). I hope the next time you feel your head spinning and your life becomes a b..lur; that you’ll take a second to slow down to savor each and every precious moment, and cherish them while you can. I guarantee you’ll feel better about whatever life throws at ya. Please share any merry-go-round moments you’ve had in the comments. I can’t wait to hear about them.