Every summer our family takes a long road trip. We head out in some direction with a furthest point in mind and then we circle our way back home. We’ve covered 18 states and most of Ontario this way. Tomorrow we’re heading south to visit some friends in Virginia before we bear right into Tennessee for the first time. Nashville bound!
Three adults and one almost adult together in my Subaru for a full week. Last year this car took us north to Maine. There’s a small stain on the back seat from that trip, and every time I look at it I think of the green New Hampshire mountains. I enjoyed every moment of that trip, even the spills in my new car, because I really thought it might be our last one, since Maggie was heading off to college. Alas, I am blessed with a kid who still wants to spend time on the road with us.
I’ve made some hotel reservations, but nothing else is planned. The trip isn’t about where we go, what we see, or what we eat. It’s about being together, in the moment. The adventure begins as soon as we pull out of the driveway.
It’s a much different adventure than it was in the days of car seats, sippy cups, Cheerios, and pre-eyeglasses motion sickness. Different still than the days of Radio Disney, middle school gossip, and boy bands.
Now, excellent playlists are being made, so songs will be shared and sung. Snacks have been packed, so more messes will be made, perhaps a new stain or two. There will be word games, name games, license plate games, deep philosophical conversations, and so very many terrible road sign puns (Scotrun!).
There will be at least several hangry moments of intolerance while we search for a restaurant with vegetarian options. Somebody will surely snap at some point along the way. We almost left Shannon in a parking lot in Georgia once because she wouldn’t stop drumming (banging) on the back of John’s seat!
There will likely be the need for a bathroom ten minutes after we pull away from a rest stop. And there will be rain. Even though I try to stay in the moment I did look ahead at the forecast, and there will most certainly be rain. It may put a damper (pun intended) on the outdoor activities, and it may keep us from a roller coaster or two, but no matter what happens, I will enjoy every minute of it.
And although I hope it’s not the last one, I will treat it as if it is, because while the road to Nashville may be long, this life of ours is so very short.
Cartoon by Zach Weinersmith