Spending the equivalent of 41/2 days in a car with my wife and two young children, driving to and from Florida, reminded me of when I was a kid. I think back to our family vacations when we drove for what seemed like an eternity to our vacation destination (either Atlantic City or Cape Cod).
I think back to sitting in the backside of my Dad’s Lincoln Continental and looking at him and my mom in the front. I remember him lighting up a cigarette and seeing the smoke blow back towards us by the centre vents of the dashboard (I know, not the smartest thing he could have done by today’s standards).
I remember seeing the hairs on my Dad’s forearms moving in the breeze generated by the air conditioning of the car, his wedding ring tapping on the steering wheel to the beat of a song that came on the radio or the 8-track tape that we were listening to at the time.
I remember laying my head down on my grandmother’s lap as we endured the 8 or so hours it took to get to our vacation destination. Grandma Sybil lived with us for most of my young life until I was in my early twenties. She joined us on all our family vacations. I remember holding hands with her…paying close attention to her hands and the way age and excessive suntanning changed the skin and how the veins protruded from the tops of her hands.
I have all these vivid memories of our family road trips and now begin wondering, what kind of things will my two children remember of our 4,500 kilometer trek to Florida? While they did spend the majority of it watching movies on two portable DVD players we brought for the trip (two players so that they could never fight about who got to watch which movie first), I would like to think that close proximity to one another for the equivalent of 41/2 days of car travel brought us even closer together. I would like to think that we enjoyed each other’s company and that we laughed alot and experienced many stories and things together.
I think about how I would look in my rearview mirror on a regular basis (checking for State Troopers) and see Annie’s eyes looking into mine and how we would both smile.
I think about how I would sometimes stretch and put one of my hands behind the headrest of my seat, only to have Annie grab onto it and gently rub it or tickle it. I think about how my older daughter Molly would stretch out one of her long legs and place her foot on the armrest between my wife and I and ask one of us to massage it. I would think about how much Molly made us laugh when the boredom of the road got to her and she would let out these enormous exhalations of air tinged with drama.
I think about how excited the girls would get each time we completed travelling through one state and would shout with excitement as we began our journey into the next state, leading us closer and closer to our final destination.
I think about how excited they were to share a hotel bedroom with my wife and I at one of the various stops we made during our drive (we love the Hampton Inn…great freebie breakfasts and really comfortable beds. No, this is not an endorsement, however if Hampton Inn would like to throw a couple of free nights accomodation coupons my way, I wouldn’t say no).
I think about how we used to laugh each and every time we saw a sign along on highway for yet another Cracker Barrel restaurant. My wife used to spot them a mile away. We did frequent a couple of them…amazed by just how completely unhealthy their menu really is….mind you, they do have some low-carb options for all you calorie counters out there!
I am 45 years old and have just identified a small handful of memories I will take away from our road trip to Florida this year. I hope that Molly and Annie, over time, create their own memories that will bring a warmth to their hearts and smiles to their faces when they are alone or with each other.