There are no words to describe what I’m feeling right now. I lean my head sideways to get a look at the dashboard to check the time for what feels like the millionth time on this trip. I wish my mom would just park the car already. Even though it’s been the most exciting day I’ve had in a while but it’s also been longest day I’ve had in a while. Right now, I have just got to get out of this hot and stuffy car.
“Why can’t they make bigger spaces?” Mom mutters frustratingly at the wheel as she passes yet another spot.
It isn’t that the spaces are too small for her 1984 Toyota Cressida, it’s because she doesn’t know how to back-in parallel park. Apparently, her friend, Simon, up in the front doesn’t want to help either. He just keeps giving her suggestions and want to take no action to help.
My mom turns on her blinker, another round, here we come, I let out a quiet moan and rest my head on the headrest. Hot flash anger ascends on the inside as I drum my fingers impatiently on the door handle. My left arm remain sweaty and pin down by the arm of the giant baby snoring soundly in the middle.
“Maybe you should just try parking in the parking lot.” Simon suggests.
Uh oh, he is one suggestion too far. All day long, he’s been making suggestions to my mom. Don’t leave the AC on in the car, it will ruin the engine. Keep the speed at 65, it’ll save some gas. I can feel my mom has just about had enough. Her grip of the wheel tightens and her eyes stare straight ahead, maybe too straight.
She is like a volcano about to blow, a grenade with the cord pulled. Don’t blow, mom. Don’t blow. I try to send the thought to her as our eyes meet in the rear view mirror. It doesn’t work.
“If there are no parking out here, there definitely not going to have any parking in the parking lot.” She snaps.
The car suddenly becomes ghostly silent. I can hear the engine humming tiredly as my mom directs the car to the end of the block again. This time, instead of turning on the right blinker, she turns on the left and swerves into the left lane. She stops at the light with her blinker still blinking.
I didn’t dare ask any questions since she is so close to losing it. I concentrate on the tic tac tic tac of the blinker and stare out the window. It’s then I suddenly realize, there isn’t anything to turn left to.
We are under a sky-walk and to the left was lined with sidewalk. Where is she going to turn left to? Has she gone crazy with anger?
The light turns green and she slams her foot on the gas pedal. The car lurches forward. She lightly taps on the brakes at the approach of the next light. The left blinker remains blinking and no one in the car dares to ask her why.
When the light turns green again, she releases the brake and lets the car slide forward. About three feet later, she stops again. What now? I wonder and lean against the window to stare at the green light.
Soon, the light turns yellow and the incoming traffic slows. Then she does something I never imagine she would do on such a narrow road. She turns the wheel several rounds and steps on the gas. In a matter of seconds, we are on the other side of the road.
My heart pounds with fear and adrenaline while she executed the turn. It is by far the most thrilling thing I have experienced on this trip and it takes my mind off that we’ve been circling the block for 45 minutes looking for a parking space.
After the turn, she resumes her position in the right lane and lightly dips on the gas to cruise the car smoothly on the road. That smooth driving was soon interrupted when she suddenly slams her foot on the brakes propelling me forward. Thank god I wore my seat belt.
This time I know exactly what’s happening, she has found a large enough parking space. She switches on the right blinker to signal the cars behind her as she slowly steered the car head-on into the space. I sigh with relief as I press the release button on my seat belt with my free hand.
I open the door and step out, sliding my left arm from under the snoring kid in the middle. It is unbelievable that what happened just now didn’t wake him. He let out a sound that resembled a pig as I slide my left arm from under his arm.
I roll my eyes and step onto the sidewalk. My sleeping legs wobble beneath me while my arms numb and sweaty swing freely beside me like noodles. A short time later, I lift my arms and stretch to the sky, shaking off the numbness from sitting in a car for the last two hours.
“This is Huntington Beach. Everybody, please follow me.” My mom calls after everyone are out of the car.
I walk behind everyone and glad to see my mom’s mood lightened. After we cross the street, She was once again chatting with her friends. By the time we hit the sand, excitement course through me again as I immediately take off running toward the water. I’ve been waiting for this moment all day, ever since mom said we were going to beach this afternoon.
When I finally reach the water, I let the cool breeze come over me as I marvel the beauty and endlessness of the ocean. I finally made it. I stretched my arms into the sky and whispered, I am here.