I've Lived In Chico, CA 9 Years Now. Incredible.
The Road Less Traveled = A Difference, All Right
Sitting in the traffic a long time during a recent hometown visit, I was reminded of a scene in The Shawshank Redemption. Freed from prison near the end of a long life, the elderly Brooks tries half-heartedly to calibrate his soul to the energy around him once he lands in the Big City. Traffic whizzes by and nearly steps into the path of a speeding car.
“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry,” he says to himself.
As a passenger in the car that day I looked around and tried to recalibrate myself the other way around, from being one in a cast of thousands, as I am in Chico, to one in a cast of millions. In Chico, there seems to be about as many bikes as cars in the road. In Chicago, it’s mainly cars. Lots and lots of them, as far as the eye can see.
I miss you, greater Chicagoland area, but I do not miss your traffic.
The day I shot this photo along the I-90 our trusty Odyssey was moving 5-10 intermittent miles per hour. About thirty minutes later we were able to resume the usual speed, somewhere between the actual speed limit and the Big Damn Hurry pace most Chi Town vehicles cruise at.
Living in Chico has spoiled me in terms of having more Useful Time in a Day. I can get anywhere I need to be in about ten or fifteen minutes at the most. My hybrid never did get used to that pace, preferring the long open stretches of road to Sacramento or San Francisco. Once in either of those places, the traffic begins crawling again, and folks are wound up to big damn hurry mode. But nothing quite like Chicago.
When I visit my homeland nowadays, and I find myself smack in the middle of traffic on newly widened roads as I invariably will, I think of hours draining from the remaining time-bank of my life. What’s the rush? Where is everyone going? Uh, did I really just have to be here today myself?
“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry!” I say.
Back here in Chico, though, my frustration with Chicago area traffic becomes a distant memory. Occasionally I am Brooks in reverse (without the suicidal desperation) as I downshift to its pace, and sometimes a thought occurs: Damn, the world went and got itself awfully slow, and mighty quiet.
When I'm not in it, sometimes my heart still beats Chicago time.