I love a good road trip. Airplanes sure get you there faster, but travelling by car offers so many more fabulous opportunities to grow, to love, to heal and to sing. Whether I travel alone or with companions, I treasure each adventure and all the experiences that each trip brings.
To be in a car with my offspring offers opportunities for them to share hopes, dreams, fears and adventures that they otherwise would keep to themselves or not even contemplate sharing with a parent. There is something about looking straight ahead, out a window or at door handles that allows them to share their inner most feelings. It may be because they cannot see mom’s facial expression reacting to every detail of their love life, school life, social life, or lack of life that they are expressing. It could be that they feel trapped and think the only way out is to reveal tidbits of their psyche. Regardless of the motivation, I love hearing the details of my children’s lives. On road trips we also find common ground in belting out songs that we both agree on. We make sure to compliment each other on our vocal prowess and pay nominal tribute to each other’s favorite musical genres. I also love it when my children nap on a road trip. For no matter what their age – infant, teen, twenty-something – there is no more peaceful view than that of a sleeping child. All worry, concern, fear and emotion turn to calm when your child rests peacefully.
Family road trips are a blast. The car is overflowing with energy, lethargy, dread, anticipation and sometimes dog breath. Our usual route is the dreaded I-90 across a bit of Ohio, less of PA and the interminable New York State. There is name-calling, finger poking, game playing, raucousness and laughter. Someone is usually singing aloud with their headphones on or torturing us with “The Song That Never Ends.” Then finally comes the book on tape and occasionally silence when all but the driver (me) have exhausted themselves with play. That silence is usually broken by someone (not me) breaking wind, reviving the boisterous shenanigans of the entire car-full. Sometimes on road trips with the children we convince each other to step out of our comfort zones. I’m sure my children will never forget the time I goaded Ross to moon a busload of Catholic schoolgirls or when we created a condiment laden “iced tea” for Max. But road trips with a carful are always fun, exciting and a test of family ties.
Road trips with my husband are full of adventure and remind me of why we fell in love in the first place. I love that we can talk about the same things over and over only to come to the same conclusions each time. We exhaust ourselves with comments about family members, co-workers and friends; then sit in a comfortable silence until the adventure begins. We meet people along the way, marvel at the sights and sounds and make new memories for future reminiscing. When we road-trip together we leave behind the routine, the mundane and the tendency to take each other for granted and re-connect.
But the most rejuvenating road trips for me are solitary. For hours I sing to my favorite music. I stop for pictures, snacks, and wildlife, even yoga – whenever I feel like it. I love the exhilaration of driving down long stretches of road with nary a thought to my plans. I let go of the everyday and notice the minute details of the passing landscape. I experience each new moment as exactly that – new, unique and wondrous. I usually open my window to let all my senses take part (even in winter). I love the feel of the breeze and I want to smell the air (even when it’s foul like last night passing some unknown manufacturing plant). I love the challenge and freedom of setting my own coarse, of meeting my own passing acquaintances and letting go of most of my responsibilities. For me, it’s restorative. Each solitary road trip keeps my “run for the hills” instinct in check. I get to run for the hills for a short while, find my center, then run back as fast as I can to the life I built . . . to the life I love.
I love a good road trip.