Last January, I drove a rental car from Los Angeles to San Diego to visit my friend Joy. The following day, I went to return the car. As I walked out Joy’s front door, she asked me if I needed directions to the rental agency. I shook my head. Another friend, Jacinta, joined me in the car and with a quizzical look said, “You do know how to get there, right?” I smiled and replied, “I don’t, but I bet you and I can figure it out.”
As we drove along the freeway, our blabbing caused us to inadvertently miss any San Diego Airport or rental-cars-go-this-way signs. We exited and forced ourselves to maneuver our way to this yet-unknown car return destination. Suddenly, we became detectives looking for clues on the road: yelling out building signs and tailing red, yellow, and blue car rental shuttles (we needed a green one). Our sleuthing work paid off when we finally saw a prominent “N” from the agency logo peering from behind another building. We laughed so hard when we finally pulled into the parking lot. We had never been more excited or filled with a sense of accomplishment returning a vehicle. Our simple task to return a car became a mini adventure.
Now, this experience could have been different: I could have easily pulled up the address of the rental agency on my phone and used the navigation feature to direct me to the spot. But what fun would that be?
Driving, back in the pre-GPS days, used to be an adventure—getting lost and finding your way around was a part of the deal. Sure, it may take longer, but you got to interpret and appreciate your surroundings. Mundane destinations can become memorable. Even being a passenger can actually be fun. (I gave my shotgun-riding navigator a high-five for every shuttle she spotted.) When you have your face glued to a screen constantly, you could be missing an experience.
When I came back from my trip, I had a conversation with Anh-Minh. (Our idea to start a magazine was roughly weeks old at this point.) She asked me what I thought the first issue should be about. I said, “the slow life,” based on my recent experience in San Diego. She agreed, noting that if you think about where you read a magazine—whether with your afternoon coffee or as you wait at the airport—it’s about taking it slow, taking time for yourself.
And then in March (as if we needed another sign that this was indeed correct theme for the first issue), while in Palm Springs with my husband and kids, I saw this at Moorten Botanical Garden:
Photo credit: Reinfred Marass (top) and Marvin Ilasco (bottom)