"Look Craig! We're in your neighborhood!"
-- Jude Lake, age 4.
Coming from the south on I-35 you take the Hwy. 6 exit. Go left (which is, I guess, west) and stay on 6 until you get to the Waco Drive exit, which may also say Hwy. 84. It's easy, but it does get a little tricky here. When you exit onto Waco Drive get to the right as quck as possible, or you will be stuck in a lane that won't let you turn. As soon as you take a right onto the access road, you'll then have to get over to the left pretty quick to get on the on-ramp. At the end of the on-ramp, get to the left immediately, or you'll be forced to get on Franklin when the road forks. Follow Waco Drive for a couple of lights, we will be on the left, caddy corner from Toys-R-Us.
I give these directions several times each week. In fact, I've become the direction guy at work. Someone calls asking for directions, I'm the first person paged to take the call. I'd be lying if I told you this bothered me. It doesn't. It's actually flattering enough to make me come close to blushing.
I could go on and on about how crazy the roads are in Waco, but until you've crossed the same road twice without ever having turned around, you'll never believe me. But trust me: the roads in Waco are seriously jacked up.
But I've been here for six years and I think I've finally cracked the code. I came close before, but moving over to Sanger has filled in the empty pieces. Before, I had known many adjacent neighborhoods without actually knowing one was next to the other. Now I know.
The code is much the same as that in the movie Contact. Remember the plans? Four planes, two on top of the other, the top left being empty-- the key was in collapsing the empty plane and moving the top right and bottom left together. If this is confusing, then you've never driven in Waco.
I've learned a thing or two in navigating this series of One Ways and entrances into alternative universes. Did you know that people who grew up in a place rarely learns the street names? I can take you through the maze of the back roads in the PineyWoods of East Texas but never once know what road I am on. I've noticed that a lot of people who grew up in Waco can't name street names. We know the landmarks from our home so well that the signposts along the way become irrelevant.
But in moving to a new place, we are forced to learn the grid and what everything is called. This is much like real life, and why many of us are afraid being thrown into new situations with new people. We know where we need to get, but differ on how to give directions.
One person wants you to take a right on New Road while another wants you to go in the direction of Wal Mart on that road that is next to On The Border.
One person wants you to be able to memorize all the verses in the Bible while another wants you to love and to trust God.
It's amazing how a messed up road system can cause us to think about life, and to complete a lackluster blog post for the sole reason of getting the creative juices flowing.
Reason #4 why I love this town: In social situations, there may never be a magical key to becoming an "insider." In Waco town life, the way is in learning directions.