Just back from a road trip. Round trip Las Vegas, two consecutive days. Drove nine hours. Napped a deuce on arrival. Slammed a little food. Heard music at a club. Slept. Out by 6AM. Drove home. Done. Butt sprung.
Perfect. Locked in car with Sweetie. Sometimes iPod whole way. (Mine. His has too much Tom Petty. And other things.) Not this time though. Sat pretty quiet we two. Traded news. Watched clouds passin' overhead. Listened to road noise. Touched. Smiled. Loved bein' together where no one could find us 'less we say.
Growin’ up, road trips undesirable. Pontiac coupe. Three kids crowded in back. Ducked, contorted, wedged, then slid behind front. Two smoking parents. Windows up. Air conditioner on recirc. Noise from back seat greeted with admonition, “Sit on your hands,” till my father remembered to un-command it. First hands hurt, then burned, then numb.
Eyes never numbed. Windows never opened. Woulda messed up hair if you’re old enough to know 1960s hair. Mom had one of those little hair-sprayed helmets.
Nope. Didn’t like road trips. Even though Burma Shave billboards were kinda cool.
Sometime in adulthood, found out they were fun. Maybe taking son to Disneyland. “I spy with my little eye…” Making words from license plates. Singing. Hearing son listen to Fisher-Price tape-recorder telling super-hero stories. Beep. Turn the page.
Later Bestie and I took a job with little firm in Carpinteria, Ca. Near Santa Barbara. Lived in Bay Area. Four-ish hour drive to company meetings. Every 8 weeks. Drove together. Chattered whole way. Same stops to pee. Same stops to eat. Off load. On load. For a few years. Same. Always same.
No money then. Her husband an ex. Mine dead. Important things to do with our money. For instance, raise kids. Decided who drove based on who most needed the .33/mile per diem. Tidy little sum. Ate Burger King value meals. Neither liked ‘em. But couldn’t resist $1.99. Ate what we needed. Tossed the rest. I had Diet Coke. She an iced tea girl. With lemon. If we could save enough, by the end, there’d be a slice of coconut cream pie at Clementine’s on the way outta town.
We thought the pie was the treat then found out it was bein’ together. Hard to say when those trips went from hardship to prize. Two of us clucking. Entire future a maybe. Wide open in front of us. The road, too.
Too poor for cell phones. No ringin’. No interrupting our dreamin’. Best a cappella “Moondance” you ever heard. Later, we had money. Still drove together. Still stayed at cheapo Best Western. Ditched BK Value Meals. Kept all our memories. Kept all our dreams.
Much later, road trip for all time. Ten days. San Francisco to Washington, D.C. And back. Sweetie and me. Son wanted a little table I had, and his golf clubs. No problem. We’ll drive ‘em. Three and half days goin’. Furniture crammed in back seat. Golf clubs in trunk. Ice chest filled with salsa. Apparently no salsa in D.C., so said college boy. Stayed three days. Stopped in Cincinnati, Thanksgiving with friends, on homeward trail. Snow just behind us; nothin' caught our tail.
Jerky. Raspberry vines. Sunflower seeds. CDs. Lotsa snoozin'. Livin' the life, even had cell phones. Off. Just enough oxygen for two. Sweetie and me. One of those dreams, from times back with Bestie, come true.
Have to wonder. What decidin' was done in childhood. When I was voiceless in the army. And now, missing something terrific. Joy invisible hiding in what used to be. Wonder. How many kinds of road trips there are in life?
Now. Lookin' for excuses for road trips. Special shine in the eye. Little twitch. Right before someone hollers, “Road trip!”
Road trips even have a theme song, did ya know? I didn't always.
Baby you can drive my car…beep beep um beep beep, yeah.
Road Trip: Still Life