Friday, June 25, 2010

Flashback Friday: On the road again...

It seems I spend most of my summer behind the wheel.

Today we leave Thief River and head to Maple Lake, where we'll hold an early family birthday party for my almost-11-year-old at my grandma's cabin. The weather looks fan-tas-tic for nine cousins to play in the water, so we've lucked out there. (It's so much a better scenario than nine cousins chasing each other around the cabin...)

Then tomorrow it's the long drive back to Rochester. I'll sit pretty for just over 24 hours, then it's off to Vermont for my MFA residency. Good times.

In honor of this flurry of travel, Flashback Friday features a roadtrip story from last summer:

* * *

‘Tis the season for hitting the road. For throwing the luggage in the back of the car and heading out — to the beach, the reunion, the woods, the wedding.

Both my and my husband’s families live “up north,” so we spend more than our fair share of summer weekends on the road. I’d like to say we’re seasoned pros, but to be honest, there’s room for improvement.

On our last trip, we took my husband’s Kia Sportage. With no a/c. And with so many bags, backpacks, and portable DVD accessories that the stack o’ stuff on the floor in front of me was level with my seat. I had two available positions: legs folded “criss-cross applesauce” or feet on the dash.

And did I mention there was no a/c?

The space issue was my fault. I’m a chronic over-packer. I fill the vehicle like I do the dishwasher — wedging pieces into every last nook and cranny. I think it’s because I throw my stuff together fifteen minutes before we leave — frantically running around the house with an open backpack.

“Will we need the bug spray?”

“We’re going to an indoor waterpark.”

“Yah, well, I’ll throw it in just in case. How about the karaoke machine?”


“OK, just the portable CD player with a couple of the disks.”

Even as I’m making my final walk out the door, I’m grabbing random supplies. Anything in my path makes it on our trip — a box of Legos, a couple of couch pillows, the kids’ baby books.

By the time I’ve gathered the necessities, everyone’s waiting in the car — juice boxes loaded, earphones plugged in.

“Are you ready, yet?” my husband pleads.

“Almost, I just need to get my knitting.”

“You knit?”

“I did. Once. I thought I’d start again.”

“During the drive?”


“I thought you were going to update the baby books.”

“I am.”

“And finish your article.”

“I am.”

“And build a city made of Legos.”

“…I am.”

“You do know it’s only a five-hour drive?”

Truth be told, those are the things I’d like to do… if I didn’t spend most of the ride sleeping.

It turns out that spending any more than 20 minutes in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle is my equivalent of taking a handful of Nytol. By the time we hit Pine Island, I’m usually out cold.

Which is unfortunate, because there’s no pretty way to sleep in the car. And I know this because I’ve seen others sleep in cars as they drive alongside me. Their heads pressed against the glass, mouths gaping open, the imprint of the door lock on their foreheads.

And I think, That’s Love. If they get where they’re going, and their significant other — the person who watched them drool on themselves for 150 miles — still wants to be seen with their door lock-lined face at the family reunion, that’s love. And if my husband, who has put up with me packing three suitcases for a two-day trip up north for 10 years, still wants to travel with me, then that’s love, too. Roadtrip love. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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