Something happened to my developing little brain in the backseat of my parents’ ice blue circa ‘60 something station wagon.
My fondest memories took place in a dark back seat, the flashes of passing headlights illuminating my brothers’ blonde heads or my parents’ profiles. My folks are night owls so we’d leave after dark and I always fell asleep to the cadence of their conversations and the hum of the tires on the asphalt roads.
My aunt and uncle moved regularly and always a four or five hour drive from us. Because they were close friends of my parents, we visited them often.
I married a wonderful man who came with unlimited summertime visits at his parents place in Minnesota. The place on the lake was the deal closer.
Almost every year, sometimes multiple times, our family has piled into the car to go on a trip to the lake. We have driven to many other destinations through the years.
I have delighted in every trip. Okay, my neat nest of memories has had a challenge or two. Sometimes fighting children threatened to push me into mean mommy land. Then there was that two hour trip turned into a four hour traffic jam in steamy Florida. I was wedged, in the backseat, between two children who fought over me in all ways. I believe I suffered a minor nervous breakdown, but that was never confirmed by any health professionals. And with the onset of time, this trip has been watered down with optimism and faulty memory.
Oh, and the trip in the Missouri mountains, when I was pregnant with child number two. The winding scenery did not sit well with me or my adult brother who rode in the back seat. My son still laughs at the memory of Uncle Matt hurling Grandma’s three course breakfast. Uncle Matt developed through that experience, a goal of throwing up on every state line in the country. To my knowledge, the Missouri Arkansas border is the only one with that honor.
All my other trips have been little snatches of heaven. Grapes and Hot Tamales are a must for any car trip. I’ve read aloud favorite family books as we hurtled down highways. Little House on the Prairie, Narnia, the Box Car Children and even John Grisham have accompanied us on our adventures.
We’ve found fields of sunflowers or odd sculptures that have become fun photo opportunities. Created some fresh air do-it-yourself rest stops and visited more zoos than I can remember. Games, songs, license plate hunting. Preparation for every trip for fun and adventure, I always thought it was for my children, but now suspect it was for me.
I’ve scolded fighters, laughed at craziness, delighted in silent angelic faces and basked in memories as my husband made the same threats, promises and statements I heard in my own childhood.
Will my children accept this torch? My son and his new wife drove to their honeymoon destination. They visited museums and a rock shop. Yes. A glimmer of hope.
What is my favorite family activity? Any adventure that requires all of us to be in an enclosed metal box hurtling down the highways of life.
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