Thursday, March 18, 2010
Being the spontaneous, sometimes erratic person that I am, I decided upon waking last Saturday morning, that I would venture out of Green Bay for a few days. I threw some clothes/essentials in a bag and was on my way.
After stopping in Chicago to see a beloved college pal, who introduced me to a slew of documentaries I would most likely never have watched on my own, and also feeding me the most scrumptious home-made meals of ooey macaroni and cheese and breakfast skillets, I was on my way to Fowlerville to see the familia.
There I did the usual catch-up with the rents--explaining why I'd quit my last job and that they needn't worry about my vagabond lifestyle--played countless outdoor games with my siblings, ensuing in some tears, a few bruises, and a lot of sore limbs, (quote from Alexa on the game of Four Corners: "We don't hit people in the face with the ball... we've established that it's rude.") won some money and prizes in a cash booth surrounded by leprechauns, and then to my immense pleasure, received the job offer that I'd been longing for, hopped in my car and prepared to head back.
This is where things got dicey.
As I was cruising back into the Chicago limits, feeling a tad cocky about my ability to navigate the city, I attempted to land myself at another college friend's pad located in Wicker Park. Yes, a lot of my friends live the cool city life, lucky bitches.
Anyway, per my mapquest piece of shit directions I was supposed to get onto I-90, but somehow wasn't finding it with the last turn they had me take. So I whipped out my trusty GPS (or Ashley's trusty GPS that I kidnapped for the excursion) and keyed in Bre's (said college friend) address. I was happily snacking away on a crunch bar, making turns and keeping my eyes peeled for an expressway when I made a turn onto a street that looked less than inviting. I'd say picture an off-beaten trail in Detroit here.
My heart immediately started kicking in my chest as if to say, get US the hell out of here! But, I thought, the trusty GPS wouldn't lead us astray would it? I slowly inched a little further down the road. My pulse was beating a hasty we're doing to die tempo at this point. And I hate to say it but the Crunch bar was not forgotten, I was still eating away, slow but serious bite after bite as my eyes nervously scanned my surroundings, as if the prospect of imminent death in a bad neighborhood couldn't deter me from finishing what could be my last chocolate bar.
I decided after a few more streets, passing a few more ramshackle houses and (I'm sorry) but what I assumed to be gang members (One of the documentaries I watched was the Crips and Bloods: Made in America, so forgive me for instantly thinking the worst!) I agreed with my rapidly beating heart and sweaty palms--now sans-chocolate-- that the GPS was a damn fool if it thought there was an expressway in that neighborhood!
I pulled a U-ey in the middle of the street and started flooring it back the way I came. By the time I managed to make my way back to a well-lit expressway I was in a state of hysteria. My roommate can vouch for the phone-call made to her in which I couldn't finish sentences because of my gasping breath and the assumption that I was being followed.
Now again, I decide to entrust my welfare with the GPS's guidance, and so I dutifully follow it into, yet another not-so-lovely neighborhood. As I got more and more suspicious passing old train cars and boarded up gas stations, I thought, this is it, doomsday. The Crips and the Bloods said they do not take kindly to visitors and I am a visitor. And yes, I know the Crips and the Bloods are located in L.A. but tomato/tomato.
My Michigan plate was a neon sign that I was not from this neighborhood. As I slowed to turn onto what the GPS clearly deemed 1-90, I pulled into a construction site for a new expressway, drove underneath a bumpy underpass and then came to an empty lot where an SUV was idling near some city buses. Again, my insane and overwrought imagination assumed this was a drug deal taking place... though I'm pretty sure the SUV had some sort of city logo on its side, my histrionics didn't acknowledge this.
As I peeled out of there and sped to the nearest stoplight and waited for it to turn green, I panicked wondering if I should backtrack like before or pray the interstate actually was up ahead. I saw the signs for a detour to 1-90 and decided to follow them. As my heart thudded harder and faster with each street that led me further into decrepit kingdom come, I thought only of how I am not nearly as tough as I thought, and that I am not quite as city-savvy as I had previously assumed.
Once I finally, FINALLY reached I-90, I was almost near tears, could hardly take in a steady breath, and was gripping the wheel so tightly that if it were someone's neck, I surely would have killed them by now.
When my dad called to see if I was finding my way and I went into a twenty minute rant about how I would drive all through the night to get home versus venturing off the safety of the expressway again, he told me that he thought I was being a bit paranoid. The conversation went something like this:
Dad: It sounds like you were around Gary, Indiana, maybe outskirts of Chicago, that's a rougher area, sure.
Me: Dad, I was scared for my life! I cannot believe I made it out alive, I am certain I was followed three times, there were people milling about in the streets, and I think one car idled behind me so long that I thought I was about to be gunned-down!
Dad: I think the Bloods and the Crips has gone to your head. You weren't about to be gunned down. And it's not like you were driving a brand new BMW.... maybe then... but I'm sure you had nothing to worry about.
Me: No, you don't know. I've been through an ordeal! I know I saw gangs... I am not a tough girl, I am a big pansy!
My dad laughed. I started to see his point that maybe I was being a tad over-dramatic. In all reality I probably was in some rougher areas of town, but the likelihood that I was about to be shanked and have my vast collection of board games stolen from my backseat was most likely slim to none.
I didn't want to take that chance though and so I drove through the night, back to the safety of the land of cheese. Driving through Milwaukee felt like driving through Candyland and I made it to the comfort of my bed with no other incident.
Ah, the life I lead...