Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Chauffer

Riding in our mini-van today, I felt like our family was actually in a commercial which would air to extol the virtues of the Nissan Quest.

The camera would pan around the cabin, showing the girls watching a Scooby Doo movie with their headsets tuned in to the movie. Then they would scan over to the eldest, who had his i-pod contraption plugged into his ears, playing his imaginary drum set to some rock song that would make my ears bleed. Finally, the camera would register a peaceful, calm mommy and daddy listening to the music of our generation.

There would be some sort of tag line or catch phrase, like "Why shouldn't the trip be fun, too?"

Then they would show my front license plate that actually says, "Mom's Taxi," and we would ride away smiling into the sunset.

Growing up, we would have had more of a tag line or catch phrase that said, "The challenge is just getting there."

My brother and I fought over the radio, the side of the car we would sit on, even the imaginary line down the middle of the back seat. My parents liked to listen to what we fondly now remember as "elevator music," and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't help but sing along. (There is something so fundamentally wrong with big band playing anything by Prince!)

We didn't have dvd players. Instead we played the license plate game, finding all the states we could on the cars we passed. Or the alphabet game, trying to find the letters of the alphabet in order in the beginning of words on billboards, signs, bumper stickers, cars, etc. We sang songs together. (I'm still a little scarred by that...) We played 20 questions for miles.

We never ate in the car; There were hardly any "drive through's" to accommodate such a request. We didn't wear seat belts; The cars hardly had seat belts. As a matter of fact, I remember sleeping on the floorboard of the car and in the rear window of the car on long enough trips.

Of course, the car was cool from the air conditioner. We didn't have central heat and air at home, so the car was pure heaven during the summer vacation.

We could literally pack everything including the kitchen sink in the trunk. And we had room to spare.

We all felt the sting of gas going over $1.00 per gallon. We vowed to carpool and take less car trips. But summer family vacation would never be compromised.

I can't say we "bonded" any more then than we do now. But I will say, there is something that does make you feel connected in having a shared experience- good or bad.

Our mini van makes it feel like we are all on our own vacation. When we get to our destination, we find ways to connect. But the multi-hour drive could lend itself to real conversation. Yet, we choose not to take advantage of that time.

Looking back, the one thing I remember about those long, tedious car rides together was that we were together. Sometimes I wonder if all the gadgetry and modern day luxuries actually rob us of what's important: each other.

We may even compromise this summer and turn everything off... But I'll tell you this: the first peep- and it all goes back on!!!

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

Wasn't just lovely when you "called" the rear seat window first??? Aaah - this was great! It brought back wonderful memories - except my parents listened to the Eagles, Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdink and BJ Thomas.