Road Trip Obsessions; We All Have Them.
Every year, I find myself seeking sunshine and leaving Seattle for a bit. My trips typically range from 3-6 weeks and the past few
years I have found comfort and unassuming adventures on the road with my mother and daughter traversing the mighty southwest.
Anyone from Texas knows that it is a massive state to drive across. My family has done this countless times, having lived on the West side, Fredericksburg outside of San Antonio and also Houston far SE near Galveston. We have family in Tucson and friends in Atlanta. At any time we are heading out of that place somewhere. Sometimes with all the harried traveling I do, I
appreciate mixing it up, and for once going the slow route by not being in such a gosh darn hurry. One time, I dared to take the train from Barcelona to Paris. Everyone on board thought me categorically insane. At the end of the long trip,
I was the only face that remained from the initial departure.
What I most appreciate about hundreds of miles of countless stretch road is the constant
reworking of the landscape from the vantage points of different seasons, different cars, what my daughter is interested in at that time, and mostly just having time to talk and reconnect with my mother.
She is a total nut job on the road, mind you- three tickets in six hours on a single stretch of the I-10 West and then continually acts annoyed when the State Patrol pulls her over for the inevitable speeding ticket which is categorically denounced. When she gets worked up, 2am somewhere between El Paso & Lemming, too dark to tell, really, my mother falls into this childhood lisp which is comical.
On the road, my mother and I have a lot in common. At the heart of it, we are two gals with a jones for adventure. My daughter is so incredibly easy to manage in a car. We don’t have movies or crap, she can talk with us, sleep or look at her books, do her math puzzles. She never complains “are we there yet?” although I sometimes do. We like talking about the future,
imagining plans we would like to go. We discuss relationships. My mother finds clarity on these things with her foot jamming the pedal with hellish abandon.
She and I collectively have hit up very continent save Antarctica; we have nothing
left to prove by way of notches on the travel belt. For now, with Bunz in tow,
we keep it simple.
We are aficionados of books on tape. Because my mother is the one who prefers to drive, and I like reading and sleeping, she gets to pick for the most part, what gets inserted into the CD slot. Of late, and inevitably, we find ourselves reuniting with those lovable vampires and wolves of the Twilight series. My mother is obsessed with all things Twilight. She has all the movies, the soundtracks, special edition DVD collections, all the books, and what is the best thing for the road? The old books on tape. Edward and Bella are such common fixtures in my mother’s world that once my daughter picked up on the fact that the story is
set in Forks, WA, she calls to inform me that Edward and Bella are not actual characters but real people living amongst us in Seattle.
For this trip, we have following itinerary: Houston to San Antonio then to Frederickburg to visit the old stomping grounds and take in the infamous River Walk. I will have to bow to my daughter’s wishes and stomach lunch at the Rainforest Café. We all have sacrifices to make on the road. From there, possibly Santa Fe. New place for Bunz. Christmas stuff should start to be up, so that will be sparkly and pretty for her. While Mom obsesses about Edward and Bella, I comb the planet far and wide for the coveted Starbucks mug. We all have our obsessions.
From there we head to Arizona, dropping by Phoenix and Tucson, lots of family around these parts. Sedona and Grand Canyon; if there’s time, maybe Disneyland and San Diego. We will see because I had a flight to Moscow last year and our trip was rushed. This time, we are taking our time.
Mom has some major reconciliation work to do on this trip. You see, when she was just out of college, my mother married her high school sweetheart. After a year, she was pregnant and he was tragically killed in a car accident. Although it is easy to roll one’s eyes at her attachment to the Twilight fables,
there is also something very touching about seeing my mother
try to find her way back to those days of young love, when the adventure of
life is still the wide expansive road ahead. There is excitement, intrigue,
Recently, she found his old journals and letters. This has been something she has never been able to really process in the past. So young, sedated to avoid miscarriage, single and left alone to raise a baby. Remarried, another baby on the way (that would be me!) and then life carries you away in its currents. When the Twilight series came out, she gravitated towards the trifle tale of young lovers on the edge of death and fighting for their love, struggling through romance, realizing the full expression of passion. So now she mourns. Sometimes she will cry. This is almost forty years of tucked away tears, then like an oil gusher, they are bursting forth. She has shared the letters and journals with me. Even though it is young love, it is powerful to go back to those days of optimism. I have never married but I can still recall how my first loves felt. My mother has been given the gift of her memories back; lots of fond ones, too. Things she buried away because at the time, it just hurt too much to see what she had lost. Now, later in life, she has so much to gain.
So I will suggest Autobiography of a Yogi for one leg of the trip. We will see what she says. Most likely, I will get in the Grand Cherokee and see those tell-tale black boxes with red and white images, and it will be my pleasure to indulge her, in her series and in our conversation and time together. I’ll share some of the highlights of the trip. Luckily, there won’t be a full moon.