Slipping inside my car, I was overcome with a delicious sense of relief mixed with gratitude. The Christian Writers Seminar in Castro Valley, where I’d had the privilege of serving as faculty, had concluded. Wonderful students, great teaching team. Now it was time to put all that inspiration in my pocketbook and go home.
For some reason, I’d entered town using an unfamiliar off-ramp. But it was an easy entry, so I went back to that end of town to exit. I spent the next hour trying to get out of Castro Valley.
Now I don’t profess to have a good sense of direction. Usually I take the long way wherever I travel. The positive is – I don’t mind. I just enjoy the scenery. And I don’t get lost.
Until Saturday night. With careful but quick consideration, I chose an exit. It took me north to San Leandro. I wanted to go to south toward Menlo Park. “Home” to my daughter’s house.
Taking the first opportunity to get off the freeway as I sped toward Oakland, I managed to work my way back to Castro Valley. There had to be a proper exit near my original entrance. Didn’t there?
I chose a more promising ramp next time around and before I knew it, noticed myself zipping along toward San Leandro again. At least I knew the way back to Castro Valley.
I hate to use the cliché that it was a dark and stormy night, but it was stormy and getting darker with every mile. Panic seemed to invade my formerly serene psyche with every whack of the windshield-wipers.
Desperate to get out of town before I ran out of gas or daylight, I headed back to the Castro Valley Inn where I stayed the night before. And to the only person I could think of to help me find my way. Les, the Inn’s manager and go-to-guy.
“What are you doing back here?” Les joked. He became immediately empathetic when I told him I couldn’t seem to get back on the freeway. That I’d spent an unscheduled hour getting to know the literal ins-and-outs of Castro Valley. And couldn’t get out. I wanted to go home.
Les set me straight in less than two minutes. Soon I turned onto the correct exit, one that I had previously passed by while driving, full of directional doubt.
Heading home at last, I thought about the doubts we wrestle with as writers. How we often aren’t sure where to go next in our writer journeys. And how, just like with go-to-guy, Les, one can get direction in a matter of minutes from someone who knows the map.
I hope I was able to be the go-to-gal for at least one someone at the seminar. So many have filled that role for me.
And I am most grateful.