Road Trip Rule #1

Road Trip Rule #1

We have a road trip car rule that applies to the driver. The rule goes as follows. The driver gets the first of the two front drink holder positions. This became a rule over time on twelve-hour road trips to Michigan and back over the course of five years. My son was a witness to this back and forth drink position change as my friend and I took turns driving.

It is a simple rule and as a person who drives at least three hours a day, typically alone. I seem to always make it a thing when I take the passenger seat moving the drivers drink ceremoniously to that coveted position. It just happens naturally.

Milestones happen organically as well, God willing. June is a milestone mecca as many families this time of year deal with school year ending chaos. It ranges from teenagers getting permits, summer jobs, moving on to their last years of high school and those graduating to name a few.

I was on track with sixteen celebration planning. The working papers were in place for summer employment and permit planning was in the works. The party went well. The job interview went fine. My son passed his permit test. All good, right?

It was the moment I rolled in to pick him up from football practice. I parked and moved my self into the passenger side. He shortly thereafter proceeded to get in my car, in the driver’s seat and then moved his drink to the first position. He smiled at me and said, “I’m, the driver, right?” I sat back in my passenger seat with my unsweetened ice tea now in the second position and let out a chuckle as my heart melted with pride.

You think that kids do not take in the little things. You hope they do. In the end, they condense the past in a short version from their perspective. They write their story of their childhood to tell the people they meet along the way in their lives. They will relay the story of why they do certain things based on traditions from their childhood with friends and the family they create.

It cracks me up to think this small gesture meant that much to him on such a momentous occasion. It was our first road trip home from practice along the lake with him as the driver and me as the passenger. When he moved my iced tea and replaced it with his soda it was a milestone, one of many that week, yet this one was my favorite.

Congratulations to all the graduates, sixteeners, new permit holders and first summer job workers. Summer is here. Remember to buckle up, put the phone down, take as many road trips as you can as these milestones come once in a lifetime.

I am grateful to be here and be a part of it while observing it from the passenger side from time to time. A welcomed change.

Special shout out to Faith Salie for  taking the time to make a kids day and mine too.  As most Approval Junkie’s know, it meant the world to me to get the “WONDERFUL MOTHER,” title bestowed to me by a woman I admire.  This book is a must summer read!


Buckle Up

On the eve of a reunion, over twenty five years in the making it seems like yesterday. I see the pictures of old friends hanging out and see them as I remember them back in the late eighties. The time that has passed reflects in their faces. Taking a look closer, again I see them as I did then. Eighties hair and clothes to be exact.

Memories are solid in pictures each is relative to their own scripts that accompany the time, place, who, what, where and when. The who being the operative word. You look at each person in a reunion photo, in this particular case, remembering different things about different people pictured that you had a connection or close relationship with.

You start with a sadness of having lost touch with them, but when you let that part of it go. You get a flood of the good memories and times you had. We talked on the phone several times a day, now that just dates us right there. We had to make a call with a cord when we were back at our dorms or apartments. If we were not together we were in class or working. We did everything together. We became each others family. We drove across country together. Lived in Los Angeles together. We lived in a European castle together. We experienced Crossroads together (shout out to my Emerson folks).

When I watched my nephew graduate this spring  I saw who his life long friends would be. They had become that reunion family to him over these four years he grew up. It was obvious as they walked in their caps and gowns as housemates, brothers and friends that they had come to this moment together in a way we will never have the full picture of. We do not need to. It is not ours.

It occurred to me sitting in the row with my mom, and my brother at graduation, with my sister in-law and her mom in front of us with my other nephew. The older brother graduating again that month as well with his masters now headed back to Geneva to start his career. I felt this same feeling at my own brothers graduation. My brother still is friends with his college roommate and has kept up with friends over the years much better I do.

The one thing I do well is old pictures as I am known as the Aunt who is still riding around in her car with photos chosen for each of my nephews high school yearbook ads. One could not be proud of this I guess, but then they would not be me.

When my nephew Tucker, pulled out his second present that day at dinner. The first, being the second of our fathers handkerchiefs given to his brother the preceding year for his undergraduate graduation. It was a four picture collage of us fishing on the Little Lake. You could tell it took him a minute to flip through his own life’s Rolodex (does that phrase still apply, or just date me again) to put the image to the memory. He has not seen those photos in over a decade and half. Finally he said, “I remember that day, fishing at Grandma’s.”

The table erupted with their own memory of that day and laughter over other photos from my car scattered in the gift bag. Here we were at a table, all of us, and maybe it will only be a memory as an image, maybe a story told in years to come. He will have his younger family ones and his new ones with his own family.

Brad Paisley told the crowd at SPAC the other night, you might think it’s high school at seventeen. But I do agree that college is one of the best times of your life, for the mere fact that what you know of as your family to that point changes over time.

I look at reunion photos and know I could call any of them at any time. Life is busy. However, those years and those bonds are suspended in time. Congratulations to all the graduates out there this year. You and your parents know what I am talking about.

Enjoy, seventeen, twenty something and take in all the memories that will carry you the rest of your life. Buckle up and remember to write a few on paper, print a few out and create a time capsule. You could keep it at your moms or in your car, either way they are yours. You will need them at various times to remember how far you have come. You did it. Over, Under and Through give yourself credit and take in this moment.