I was at Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go last weekend when Z came to visit. She actually came for Amuro Namie’s concert but didn’t want to waste the trip, so she decided to force me to take a trip with her.
I tried booking the tickets quite late since I had no motivation to do it and because it was the start of Golden Week already, bus tickets from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go were fully booked, so we had no choice but to rent a car to get there.
The trip was fine until when we were heading back from Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa to return the rented vehicle, I took the wrong split road on the highway and instead of heading toward Kanazawa, we were headed some 22km the wrong direction. That is to say, I had to drive an additional 44km just to get back to where we were. It was a horrible drive in the wrong direction and Z was so tired, she slept. Not that I mind since if I were her, I would likely sleep too. Except that I was also really sleepy, I needed something to keep me awake.
While frustratingly driving back in the wrong direction going past Shirakawa-go, I kept reminding myself, there must be a reason for this. I thought, perhaps if I hadn’t taken the wrong route, I would’ve been stuck in a horrible jam or something worse might have happened, just to console myself. For a non-smooth-sailing trip that I usually like, the wrong route hadn’t realised its potential.
When we finally got out the highway heading the wrong direction and back heading the right way, my eyelids were getting so heavy, seeing the sleeping cousin in the passenger seat just made me even sleepier. In order to keep myself awake (and us both alive), I decided to stop at the next pit stop to grab Red Bull or some kind of energy drink, which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t taken the wrong route in the first place.
At the pit stop, we spotted a girl holding a sign that read, “金沢方面 (toward Kanazawa).” The kind of board typical of hitchhikers. Z and I contemplated taking them since we were headed toward Kanazawa station. I recalled umpteen times I wanted to try hitchhiking but simply lacked the courage to do so alone, and seeing someone do it, I felt like I wanted to help as I would want to be helped if it were me.
We went into the convenience store to purchase our food and drinks and when we came out, the student was walking away with another girl. So we thought she found someone. But turns out, they were friends hitchhiking together and were simply walking toward the carpark to wait. Since it was in the direction of our vehicle, I decided to approach them.
Luck would have it (for them), that they wanted to head to Kanazawa station as well, so we picked them up and the rest of the ride was fun chatting with strangers. Something I always enjoyed. We learned that it wasn’t the first time these two college students were hitchhiking and they said they were more daring when they were younger, proactively approaching drivers to ask if they could hitch a ride, but as they got older (they’re only about 22), they no longer dared to approach people. It seems that as people grow older, they start to realise that the world is not as peachy as they had thought and begin to get apprehensive and worried about getting rejections, getting scolded, or simply about imposing on others.
During the ride, images of parents who had wanted to be doctors (or lawyers, singers, athletes, musicians) and couldn’t, end up placing their hopes on their children, appeared in my mind. I felt like such a parent who couldn’t hitchhike when I was younger and so decided to put effort in helping those who dare to walk my dream. Now I understand how it feels for parents to place their dreams on their children and give all they can to help their offspring realize them.
Perhaps that’s also what it means when they say athletes and idols give us dreams and hope: they don’t really give us dreams and hope; they embody the realization of our secret desire to become like them, except that we didn’t have the talent and/or courage to do so.