It's almost noon. We've just climbed down Mt. Tam and I am secretly craving oysters. "You wanna go to The Marshall Store?" my friend asks. I love how he can read my mind. My eyes answer before my mouth can respond.
The drive from Mt. Tam to The Marshall Store is only 27 miles, but it seems to take forever. The narrow roads curve between rows of Redwoods and the switchbacks make any passenger dizzy with nausea. I have the windows down and fill my lungs with the sweet scent of damp leaves after a storm. I tell him to take pictures out of the car window and squeal with delight when I see the sun's rays illuminate the burnt orange leaves.
We've ridden these roads on our bikes and can recall every turn, climb, and crest of the road like a person remembers the curves of their first lover. We're now driving and descending down the road that we once climbed together on our bikes. Now in the car, I laugh and turn wide along the steep turns. There's one steep switchback I come across and look over- "Remember? This is where you told me to not ask anymore questions because you didn't want to talk to me (true story)." "It's just because I couldn't breathe." Every conversation and memory is stamped into this road.
The terrain changes and opens up into the dry, stark hills of the Seven Sisters. I remember how horrible I felt that day on that particular part of the ride. With each "sister" my legs increasingly loaded up with lactic acid and it became more of a mental fight to get through each progressive hill climb.
I tell him that it's so much better driving it this time. We both know I'm lying. It's just easier, not better.
"They could've easily build a highway here," he says. "But I'm glad they didn't. This road puts us in the way of beauty." It is the most inefficient route imaginable, but we finally arrive at The Marshall Store having already experienced a full 5-course meal of all that nature has to offer.
I think the same thing happens in life too. Some of the wisest and grounded people I know experienced confusing labyrinths early on, only to arrive at their destination full of wisdom and resilience. That crappy job they worked in their 20s, that failed marriage, the years raising kids alone, that move across the country. At the time it seems like a winding and inefficient route to the destination. But little did they know it was giving them the perspective and resolve they needed for later on. These narrow switchbacks through the mist and trees were their becoming.
Sometimes easier is not better. Sometimes the more scenic route is worth the extra time. Which makes your arrival that much sweeter.