There was this road trip my husband and I took a few years ago. It started in Salt Lake City and wound through Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks before finally, windows down, radio crooning, hands holding, it unwillingly ended at the airport so that I could fly home and he could stay behind and we could hang onto every last detail of those perfectly imperfect five days.
Every February, we escape the New England cold for warmer climates. This year, Forrest in tow, we loaded the car for our first, big family road trip and headed down the east coast.
And here’s what I have to say about it.
- After you have a child, get stuck with your partner somewhere. Get stuck somewhere without distraction, where no one can look at phones or remember to change the laundry or fall asleep or do anything but be together. Then talk. Ask questions you’ve been meaning to ask and mention things you’ve been meaning to mention and say, “How are you?” and really listen to the answer. And hold hands.
- Give yourself permission to rest. This is hard for me. Rest feels like time wasted. I am so wrong; it so is not. Rest makes us better people to ourselves and to the people around us. Rest makes us better parents, partners, mothers, fathers, friends, daughters. Lack of rest is abusive and selfish. You’re doing no one any good by toughing it out. Whatever you have to do to get it, do that thing. Separate yourself from the scene. Ask for help. Put it in your calendar. Whatever it is, just rest.
- America is beautiful. I’ve been struggling with my American pride during this joke of a presidential campaign, but step out of that circus tent and man, this country is stunning. New England with its bare, wintry trees and winding, billboard-less highways. New York to Washington DC, commerce and universities and industry and development and stature. The South, where I’m from, and even on cruise control, the car seems to slow down alongside houses too close to the highway, where big, green trees rooted in a tormented history sway to the sweet, soft sounds of Southern charm. All along the coast, people and accents and cuisine from such different places, crowded within this singular, confused, beautiful country. It was good to see it.
- We had more fun as two, but we’re more full as three. This is hard to write and I know as Forrest gets older and more independent and can do more stuff, we’ll have more fun than we ever had. For now, he’s a lot of maintenance and doesn’t sleep well in new environments. My husband and I used to pull the car over on a whim to lie down in a pretty pasture. That’s a real thing we did. But, we got to introduce Forrest to family and they held him and we were so proud and he made us laugh with his backseat coos and he hugs and tries to kiss now, and he’s ours. Our two made this three and we get to have adventures together now, and it’s everything I can do to contain my heart when he and my husband hold hands.
- Invest in the people who make you and your life more joyful. No amount of energy, chaos, time or money is too big an investment in those people. Period.
It’s good to be home.
If you were driving cross country and could take anyone with you, famous, friend or family, who would you choose?