1. A single gas station where we would stop to get gas. Entranced from my seat in the back, I’d watch the numbers on the pump click by like those on a flip number clock.
2. A drive in restaurant where the waitress would skate up to the car, chomping her gum. Each waitress’s hair rivaled the other in terms of frizz and creative use of hairspray. We would pretend to contemplate the menu but would always order taco in a bag: a bag of frito lay corn chips, topped with seasoned hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. It was the perfect meal, contained in its own serving receptacle – only requiring a fork to eat. My dad would systematically and methodically break up the greasy chips so that each bite would have a proportionate amount of ingredients. I haven’t eaten meat in years, but my mouth still waters when thinking of taco in a bag.
3. Rows upon rows of telephone poles, passing by in a rhythm like the legs of women in a chorus line or the blades of a ceiling fan.
4. A small scenic point that featured a gazebo with a picnic table where we would often stop to eat our soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The point was “scenic” because it sat alongside Nature which consisted of a mostly dried-out river bed that was rumored to be home to the lethal moccasin snake. We were cautioned against going into this water because if the moccasin snake bit, your tongue would swell and suffocate you long before you could get the antidote. Also, there was quicksand. Years later my best friends would run away from home in an attempt to get to me and would make it to this spot before turning back.
5. The sign for an area called “Boys Ranch” with which we were vaguely affiliated. It was a home for troubled boys but also home to a small building that held various animal parts. The building was billed as a “museum” and there were various baskets of animal teeth, husks and horns. A rattlesnake skin that stretched over six feet was pinned around the inside circumference of the main room.
6. An area that seemed to rise up out of nowhere containing a series of Cadillacs seemingly driven into the ground. Each time we would drive by they were more covered in graffiti. As a child this area was completely surreal, bookended only by miles and miles of ranch land and unending telephone poles.
7. The Catholic church in the small town of Vega that sat alongside the highway. It was the church where I received my first communion, walking down the aisle in my itchy dress, side-by-side with my best friend. The church rectory was where I would later live with my family during the month we spent as refugees from our home. It was both foreign and all too familiar, like a family member you’ve been estranged from for years.