Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 1 Travel Troubles

I have had a day full of stories that will be funnier in the future than they are right now. My sister side swiped my car as she left the driveway knocking my side mirror off and scratching the passenger door. She looked so pathetically sad when she came back in the house to confess that it seemed ridiculous to be mad. Luckily my brother-in-law is very handy and he was able to buff out the scuffs and reattach the side mirror so that the scars are barely visible.
The car in order, I headed up, at midnight,  to sleep in my nephew's bedroom while my kids and their cousins huddled down for a night of chit chat, movies,and  swapping stories. I knew that for them this night would include little to no sleep. Half the fun of any vacation is the memories you make right? Let them giggle and be goofy, as I climbed into bed I was still on all systems go for a week of family fun followed by my trek across the south into New Mexico.
Funny thing happens as I'm changing into my pajamas, my younger son knocks on the door and when I open it I find an extended hand, cell phone lying flat on his open palm as if he expects it to explode at any minute. "It's Dad", he says in his newly baritone voice.
My husband, who is traveling in another car, has called to tell me that his car is smoking badly and that he will have to turn around and return home. Tomorrow he will either repair his car or rent another. Not exactly a part of my plan. Having traveled for years with kids I have learned that they hate being wedged between suitcases nearly as much as they hate me giving them fashion advice as they pack, so, in what seemed a burst of genius at the time, I declared that in order for them to be more comfortable their suitcases would be traveling with their father in his car.
Now I have three teens heading for a week's vacation with only two outfits each. Anyone who has ever parented a teenager  knows that this is a category 5 emotional hurricane. No choices of shoes for two whole days? No specially picked matching outfits and sneakers? As their brains fill with visions of fashion suicide, mine fills with the distant echo of doom. Wasn't this supposed to be bonding time? Why then do I hear the manacles of melodrama snapping shut? Why aren't things going according to plan?
I guess I'll need to reexamine my St. Augustine allusion, if this journey is a book, the first lesson must be learn to roll with the punches.
Cars can be repaired, a broken fan belt or a mangled mirror are annoyances but they have only the power I give to them. Tomorrow my husband will roll up his sleeves and dig his calloused hands into the heart of the machine that betrayed him today. He'll get dirty, when he pulls his hands from beneath the hood of that old Suzuki they will be slick with oil and grease, his aging hands will ache from the struggle to fit into tight spaces. He may fail. He may spend hours sliding fingers through the cramped corners of that engine and the fan belt may refuse to fit. He may have to rent a car, spending hundreds of dollars we hadn't budgeted for, but by Sunday he will show up for his family. Like he always has.
I was tempted, briefly, to see the events of this day as a harbinger, a warning from the universe that I should read no further. It would be easy enough to fret my minor misfortunes, to lament about the money all this will cost me, to slide my reading glasses back into their case and head home but then I remember the way the brilliant blue sky hovering over me as I drove across that small bridge outside of Richmond, the wash of music that filled my small car as we entered Durham, and I remembered how much I want to read further in this book. 


  1. hey aunt bridget! sorry to hear about the car troubles. i noticed you said you were coming out to new mexico and i was wondering if you had time to swing just a few hours north to see us? we have plenty of room for you all to stay with either us or my parents or both and i would really love to see you all. Let me know!!! your always welcome! -kelly sause coleman

  2. Thanks Kelly! I wish I could make it up there but I'm traveling with a friend and we've got a packed schedule for this trip. I am going to make it out that way someday soon. I've heard it's absolutely beautiful where you are :)


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