So Close, and Yet So Far… Chapter 2

Exit 253. That was my exit. I downshifted to third, then to second, slowing my car for the turn. As I rounded the curve, I looked out across the horizon to the city. It looked inviting, with the red sunset glowing behind it, making silhouettes of the skyscrapers. It was going to take some getting used to, this city. I had become so accustomed to the mild weather of the Midwest; it was invigorating to be able to drive with my windows down in November.

It was the third day of my journey, and I was exhausted from the trip. For the past two nights, I had slept in the back of my car, on the shoulder of the highway, with nothing but my suede jacket and the sounds of the other cars as they rushed past furiously into the darkness. It was an understatement to say that I was anxious to find myself asleep in a bed, any bed at all.

So I set forth upon the streets of San Diego, searching for a place to make my home, if only for one night. In an effort to conserve what precious little money I had left, I was planning on spending my evening once again in the trunk of my car with the seats folded down. Although the idea was very cost considerate, I had a feeling that the public authorities would not look to kindly upon people living in their cars, and the notion of another night in the hard, cramped, and far from quiet rear quarters of my car did not appeal to my sense of comfort.

I decided that after driving for three days, and eating nothing but preprocessed convenience food, I had finally earned a much-deserved break. I spotted a small corner coffee shop that boasted “The best coffee in the San Diego area,” so I pulled over and let my engine softly roll over to a stop. The way I figured it, if it was black and liquid, and had been, at one stage in its life, at all associated with a bean of sorts, I would be more than happy to give it a home inside my stomach. I settled into the corner with an Irish Crème, and watched the other people as they came and went, purchasing their caffeinated beverages and either sitting or rushing out into the city streets. There were so very many people, but not one of them stood out, they all looked the same to me, dressed for their nine to five jobs. It hadn’t occurred yet to me that I, as well, had an underlying need for a nine to five job, as well. Two thousand dollars would not get me very far here, and I still needed a place to stay. For the moment, though, I was blissfully ignoring the nagging voice that kept going over all of the elements of my situation that were leaning toward my inevitable demise. I had but two thousand dollars; I had no job; I had no place to stay; my car had quite an appetite, that is, when it was not begging for repair. These things dwelt not on my mind. One thing was on my mind : her.

After all, she was the reason I was here. She was the sole reason I had decided to migrate to this, the city of San Diego. I was never going to be able to rationalize my feelings or thoughts about her, or explain to anyone how I had arrived at the conclusion that, if I came, I might actually be able to find her. I didn’t know what I would do if I ever did manage to find her, or how I would go about looking for her, but these things troubled me not. I had spent the entire drive into the city thinking, and it was probably best that I take some time away from firing my neurons.

When I had finished consuming my coffee, I left the coffee shop and coaxed my car into starting so that I could find a place to spend the night. I drove about, here and there, until I found a small, run down motel with a vacancy. The room was inexpensive, the bathroom was dirty, but the bed was softer than the bed of my trunk, and that was all that mattered to me at the time. I laid down with the intent of taking a small nap, as it was only 7:30 PM, Pacific Standard time, but I must have been very tired, as I did not wake up until 9:27 AM the next morning to the sharp rapping of someone’s hand on my motel room door.

“Wake up!” the raspy voice commanded. “I got a message for ya!” I opened my eyes slowly, glancing at the clock, which yielded an unexpected time. Groaning groggily, I dragged myself over to the door. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the distinct smell of burnt tobacco. The motel manager was by no means a tall man, hunched over; his head came up to my chin. He had a five o’clock shadow that I thought could make 40 grit sandpaper jealous, and there were pit stains on his shirt. His cigar hung limply between his lips, and when he talked, it bobbed up and down, leaving ashes to fall to the ground, still smouldering. “You can thank me later,” his gravelly voice choked forth, and with that he turned and hobbled back to the front office.

I unfolded the paper, and looked it over. There was no parking lot for the motel, so I had parked my car on the street in a public parking area in front of it the previous evening, and a police officer, obviously not in too bad of a mood, decided that instead of citing me for not having a city sticker, he would simply leave me a note warning me to register my vehicle. He had also written directions to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I fumbled for my keys, and closed the door to my motel room as I walked out toward my car. I opened the door and stepped into my car. Grasping the directions tightly in my left hand, I started my car and pulled onto the street.

Thirty minutes later, after passing it twice, I spotted the DMV, and pulled over to take care of my registration problems. The DMV was significantly darker than the street, with the blinds half closed, and a dark brown-on-brown color scheme engulfing everything. There were moderately long lines, and they didn’t seem to be moving very quickly. I stood in the line marked for “title/registration” and waited. I found my mind drifting through time and space, pondering the events of the past few days, as there wasn’t much else to do. I wondered what she was doing here, in this city. Why had she come here? Where was she at this very moment, as I was frozen in my stance, waiting for my line to show the slightest amount of movement?

Two hours and forty paces later, I was finally at the counter, staring a petite brunette woman in the face. She was slightly shorter than I, with wide, black, box-like glasses framing baby blue eyes. She wore a teal sweater, with her nametag pinned to the breast.
“Jenny, I am just curious, is the DMV always this…” my mind scrambled for a way to finish the sentence without offending her.
“Excruciatingly slow?” she finished my sentence.
“I suppose you could put it that way, but those were your words, not mine.”
“Sorry, but we are a bit short-staffed right now.”
“I would like an application, then.” I don’t know what was going through my mind, but I supposed it made sense at the time. I took my registration, my city sticker, and my application and left the DMV for my car.


Two weeks later, after working at the DMV for four days, and still living out of the motel room, I remembered something. I can’t for the life of me understand why I did not think of it earlier. I had to register my car with the city of San Diego when I came here, so she certainly must have by now. What was her license plate? There was no way that I could find her in this city based on the fact that she was driving a red Celica, there must be hundreds, if not thousands of them here. I knew it was something with an eight.

Knowing that I had the resources to find her, but falling short, tormented me. I had no purpose in this city if not to find this woman. I had a hard time sleeping that evening. I just kept thinking about her license plate. Was it 84 something 8 something? What was it. Looking at the clock, I noticed that it was 8:49. I really needed to get to sleep, I was opening the DMV the next day at 6:00. Eight forty-nine, I yawned and started to close my eyes, but they opened with a jerk and I sat upright with a start. Eight forty-nine, that was the beginning of her license plate. It began to come back to me. Eight four nine eight three eight one. I wrote the number down on a sticky note and stuck it to the mirror in my room, so I wouldn’t forget it the next day, not that I worried much that it would be a problem.

Images of the redheaded beauty danced in my head all evening, as I had pleasant dreams of her, remembering all of her exhibitions at the coffee shop. I had no trouble at all waking up at 5:30 the next morning. I showered, brushed my teeth, and combed my hair, and I walked jauntily out the door to head off to work. I was one step closer to finding her.

Before I unlocked the doors to the DMV, to let the public in, I turned on my workstation, logged in, and typed in my search. Eight-four-nine-eight-three-eight-one. Waiting. Searching. One match. My hand trembled as I pressed enter, and I jumped as the printer screeched the information onto the paper.

Olivia Weller
128 13th St. – Apt 325.

For the rest of the day, I had a smile on my face that nothing could touch. I had found her.