Letter from the Editor: The road leads home


Avani Munji

The Sidekick executive editor-in-chief Angelina Liu often goes on long road trips with her family. Liu writes about how her curiosity is piqued by various, random things she sees along the way during these trips, and how her curiosity eventually led her to The Sidekick.

Angelina Liu, Editor-in-chief

I sat up groggy in the back of the dark gray sedan and checked the time since we left home. My headphones felt slimy over my ears as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” repeated itself for the fifth time. 

I kicked my feet onto the center console of the 2019 Toyota Camry, desperate to make more room as my sister took up more than half of her side of the cramped sedan. Dusk was breaking over the top of a mountain range in New Mexico while my parents debated whether we should keep driving or look for a hotel. 

We are a road trip family. While other families opt for the quicker, comfortable, spacious and luxurious option of flying, my family loads the car up at 6 a.m. and drives for 13 hours straight. 

It is not that we can’t afford to fly. In fact, I’ve been very close to convincing my parents to purchase tickets that would cut our driving time by six hours. But unfortunately, my parents see it as a bonding experience.

I’ve traversed the country seated in the back of countless models of Toyotas. My favorites have been Arizona, feeling the dry, hot air on my skin as the towering red rocks loom above. Feeling precariously close to the edge on Pacific Highway 1, the magnificent blue ocean stretching for hundreds of miles. Seeing vast acres of tumbleweeds and desert shrubbery on U.S Route 50, America’s loneliest highway as the sunset casts glorious shadows on the plateaus in the distance. 

On these trips, I experience periods of boredom as I run out of things to do. I grow tired of my carefully curated road trip playlists and my mind begins to wander. 

Finally, I see something on the horizon. On one of our trips, we passed by the maximum security prison in Gatesville, Texas. I began to research the prisoners. The case of Erin Caffey was particularly interesting to me. She was only 16 years old when she had her boyfriend and his friend kill her mother, father and two brothers as they slept. 

I read several news articles about the case, and even watched the interview Piers Morgan did with the most “evil woman in America.” I dug deep into her life out of boredom of my own. 

The roadside billboard signs pique my curiosity. Who is Jim Adler and why do they call him the Texas Hammer? Is that really the best place in Texas to get barbecue? Who buys these sheds haphazardly sold on the side of the highway?  I looked forward to each structure I saw, eager to find information about it in the otherwise bland landscape surrounding it. 

On a particularly long stretch on Interstate 10, I pondered about my future in high school. It was summer and courses were already solidified, but I was in an extracurricular that I saw no future in. I looked to do something else that could satisfy my cravings of curiosity. 

My mind wandered to a story about a friend. It was written about her pond that she constructed herself, otherwise unknown to the world as it hid obscured in her backyard. I recalled the moments where friends and I had been approached by inquiring writers for The Sidekick, from topics ranging from the eccentric geometry teacher Michael Wang and theater performances. 

I regained service and briefly looked up The Sidekick, which led me to coppellstudentmedia.com. I read through the stories written about students, teachers and notable members of the community and immediately sent an email to the adviser asking to be a part of the program. 

The ability to reach deeper, to seek a story that might otherwise just be a trophy on a wall, hidden in someone’s bedroom or a talent that can only be seen on the field is something that I will never take for granted. Despite the boredom and listlessness of being on the road, I appreciate the feeling as they led me to a program that feeds the same curiosity to ask questions, understand and learn. 

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