Friday, May 9, 2008

Flashback Friday-Family Vacation

If you want to play along today, go see CableGirl and get your name on her list. Come on; I know you have always wanted to be a Flasher! Or am I projecting?

The summer between second and third grade, my parents decided we were going to take a long family vacation. We loaded up our monstrous Ford Econoline van (including a mattress in the back, as that was long before seat belts were a big deal) with the six of us (the Parents and us four daughters), as well as our huge Old English Sheepdog and headed cross-country from Colorado to Kentucky; that was where the parents of my step-father lived, and we had never met them before, so when the Step Dick-I mean dad-had a month's leave from the Air Force, they though it would be a great time to go.

And this remains to this day one of the best childhood memories I have. We all loved music and loved to sing, so we had this huge fake leather carrier thing filled with cassette tapes-from The Sound of Music Soundtrack to Dolly Parton and the The Andrews Sisters, BJ Thomas and Johnny Horton. Miles and miles each day, singing along to the radio or reading or falling asleep to the hum of the wheels on the pavement. I used to ask my mom to wake me up if we came to a town at night, because I loved to see the lights at night, all of these houses lit up with families inside; it always made me feel unreasonably happy and safe to imagine what their lives were like, and the lights of the big cities and the small towns alike filled me with a sense of possibility, like somewhere out there along the road, I would meet my own life, my own self, and know I was going to make it.

***Yes, I really did think like that when I was a kid; didn't you believe me when I told you I was a nerd? Now you know why.***

I don't really remember much about our actual destination, Kentucky. I have a vague memory of the street my step-grands lived on, with a neighbor boy who had a bike he would let us ride, the faint smell of cabbage and endless glasses of iced tea. I remember thinking that my step-grandma was something like God to me, because when my step-dad yelled at us for not eating the Brussels sprouts, she smacked him on the hand with a fork and told him to stop. She stood up to him, where we certainly couldn't. In retrospect, I imagine he was as afraid of his parents as we were him, but at the time, I felt protected and safe. And that pretty much sums up my memories of the visit itself.

But I remember the trip: the driving, and the stopping. We went to a reservation in New Mexico, and I remember how odd it was that there would be shacks made from corrugated metal, no power lines, chickens scratching around in the dust-but with shiny brand new trucks parked alongside the house. I remember feeling very, very white when we would stop at little stores along the way, buying penny candy sticks and wondering why everyone seemed so tired and worn down. Still-New Mexico was beautiful in a strange, wild way I had never experienced, and I made up my mind then that I wanted to live there. It hasn't happened yet, but maybe. I also found out that I didn't like the Grand Canyon. At. All. It scared me, and I actually do not care if I ever see it again.

I remember the thrill of watching life unfold in front of me, and the way it looked from behind. I remember being mesmerized at the way the shadows from the power lines swooped up and down, over and over, looking like they were moving but the van was standing still. I remember the roadside diners and stopping at rest areas to pee, remember the feeling of being completely alone even when I was surrounded by my family, and I remember the soft sound of my mom singing as I fell asleep.

I think this is why I love to travel, to just get in the car and drive. I never did get bored in the car, and still don't. I thank this one vacation for my love of the road, and the desert, and the way life could be. Three weeks of nearly idyllic living, and I haven't stopped looking for it since.


JT said...

You should come to New Mexico. Parts of it are still like that ~grin~, but the beauty of the sunset can be utterly overwhelming. Everyday I leave work and I drive into the setting sun for a few mins., before turning off on my way home. You can be blinded by the light (bad pun) but the colors that surround the sky are glorious like nothing I have seen in any other state. And unlike L.A., it's not from the pollution lol.

citizen jane said...

Great story. I have similar tales from my childhood about family car trips. While plane travel is much more practical, time-wise, there is something about hitting the road and watching the world roll by.

CableGirl said...

Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a road trip. Obviously it was fairly eventful for you since the travel is the part of the trip you remember. I love the idea of meeting yourself along the way.

April said...

It's true - I remember so much more about the car rides getting there than the there!

FreedomFirst said...

Oh my God. It just scares me how much we are alike - aaagghhh! Oh yeah, Happy Mother's Day! ;)

We used to drive to Tennessee every Thanksgiving until I was 13, and I also LOVED seeing the lights in people's houses at night. Not for the same reasons, but it inspired my imagination so much to picture the life going on inside. Occasionally I would look at one and quickly turn away, feeling a negative pressure from the place. That's weird; I had forgotten that. I think I forced down a lot of those feelings as a child because I had no idea what to do with them.

One of my very earliest memories is of our move from Florida to Pennsylvania when I was 3. I remember lying on a mattress or blanket in the back of our station wagon, looking up at the stars with my oldest brother. My second brother was just an infant in the car seat, sound asleep; but Patrick and I had a box of Cheerios and the exuberance of youth, and we dumped out a small pile between us and felt very sneaky and giddy as we nibbled them, one at a time, and wondered at the stars overhead.

I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I just don't get the thrill either. It looks boring and dangerous. Give me a huge waterfall or an ancient castle, or at least just something with plants growing there. Lol.

Meg said...

I love your description of the possibilities your life might offer. I think the worse thing about getting older, apart from the aches and pains and cottage cheese-like midsection, is the loss of those possibilities.

I, too, am searching for near idyllic living.

Huckdoll said...

That was some beautiful writing, Kori. I felt like I was there with you. And heck NO, you are not/were not a nerd. I felt the same way about big cities and small towns when I was a little girl :)

Anna-borderline-bonkers-banana :) said...

What a great memory! This brought back some of my memories too. I loved to travel and often drew pictures of what we passed. The inspiration was never ending!

Funny how we get a glimps of a peice of an ideal life and it becomes a dream to always look back on and strive for. I have a few of those!

Anyway...about that painting. I know you are one busy lady but I was wondering if you really do want it. I have another person that e-mailed me about it but you commented first. I told them I would let you have first dibs on it.
Let me know and I will let the other party know if they can or cannot get it.
Thanks Kori,
Have a great weekend and mothers so deserve it!


Xbox4NappyRash said...

nice piece, I have always loved towns lit up at night too.

And the idea of the grand canyon doesn't sit nice with me either. The idea of such a drop would guarantee that I never go anywhere near the edge.

LunaNik said...

I'm with you on this one. I LOVE to drive. I would drive cross country in a heartbeat if I had the opportunity. Seeing the lights, the different ways that people live, hearing the different accents, it's all so magical.

Killlashandra said...

Just a side note, in New Mexico they call them pueblos rather than reservations.

New Mexico probably hasn't changed too much since that trip. There are still lots of people with brand new truck living in squalor. I could probably write a lot of about why I think that is after 5 years of living here. Ranks up there with the fact Native Americans do not seek out health care and have the highest numbers of diabetes in the state. But that's work talking.

I hope someday you end up here. New Mexico certainly does have a way of drawing you in. But they don't call it the Land of Entrapment for nothing. ;)

Cheffie-Mom said...

I would love to go cross country! Your writing is wonderful! I love your posts. Sorry I have not been blogging lately! I have been taping shows which I am excited about because I was able to post them on my blog YAY!! If you get a chance to check it out, then let me know what you think. The more feedback I get the better I can make the segments Also, your stories are great and my whole idea behind this show is for other moms to share real stories like you do. Anyway, I’d love to hear from you.

Lori said...

How did we ever survive without Nintendo DS Lites and portable DVD players?? ;)