Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Car Ride

The car groaned under the weight of its obligations. My wife, not known for her skills of complex math, somehow morphed into a genius when it came to precise spatial calculations. Dogs, cats, clothing and all the ski paraphernalia that was critical to our survival  was expertly arranged in the trunk in an area that to my eye was totally unsuited for the task. Our children were on occasion almost invisible in the back seat,  surrounded by  'stuff'. And for almost a quarter of a century, with animals,equipment, and children in tow,  we have taken our weekly journey in the winter to the Berkshires. 

At a wedding I recently attended, the bride, whose family has taken a similar life's path, spoke with reverence of the family travels. The best recollections for her were of the bonds formed in these hours on the road. 

I thought about why 2 hours in a car, week in and week out, back and forth and then again, would hold any allure. I know that not all trips of this length stir such wonderful emotions. Just ask my daughter about the ride last year from Fort Lee to her apartment in lower Manhattan, as I fussed and cussed, whined and bellowed.

So, what made all those miles over all those years so different? 

It was here that we found comfort in the repetition of the sounds and sights, in the familiarity and in the understanding of  the joys that awaited at the end of this road. 

It was here that over time musical tastes grew and changed.What began with the sounds of Tom Chapin, meandered through the years to Ben Folds,  bluegrass and  finally landed with the cowboy hats of country music. The downside of this eclectic mix and the passage of  miles was that  I learned  many of the tunes and sang them to the eternal consternation of my captive audience.

It was here, at least recently, that my son acted as news commentator, bringing all of us up to date on whats and the whys of the world. It was here that we spoke of the villains and searched for the heroes on our political landscape.  And it was here that NPR eventually found a home.

It was here that we were able to relax, to shed the distractions, to leave the problems of  the moment to another moment. Here issues with school or work, with boyfriends or girlfriends, with aging parents and  with choices that demanded an answer, had a smaller place.

And it was here that we relied only on each other. For in this world, there was just the 4 of us.

Over the years, pets have passed away and others have taken their place.Today there are sadly no more replacements. Now my children are fully grown. But still, on occasion, both of them take their seats and settle in, surrounded by memories of journeys past. And if you ask them, I would guess that they would say that this  sometimes cramped, long trip, taken over and over to the same destination has been, and continues to be, some of the best times of their lives.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Sounds a lot like my college essay. I still look forward to those car rides, barring that there is no traffic or bad weather.