I never took a road trip until I was 13 and my Dad moved to Tennessee. My experience with travel always involved my parents saving for airfare, a plane, security, a window seat, and a wing pin with a couple bags of peanuts thrown onto my tray. Traveling in a mini van with two adults and four other children (all younger than me) didn’t sound like a vacation to me. There was the pinching, punching, tattling and bickering I expected and the sneaking into the slummy motels through the back door so my Dad wouldn't have to pay the extra fee for our additional bodies. In the midst of chaos, however, once in a while these unique moments of awe and contemplation came my way. When the early morning sky was still ebony and everyone was asleep, there were times I would wrap myself in my yellow and pink Minnie Mouse sleeping bag and just stare out at the still desert wondering what life was going to be like without my Dad around. Then there were the tourist attractions: the Hoover Dam in Nevada, ice caves in New Mexico, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Mississippi River, and the Amish people in Kentucky. Each sight captured my interest and admiration. The world was complex and my panoramic throw-away camera was never going to capture it.
At the time I collected antique Coca-Cola memorabilia, so My Dad made sure we stopped at all the antique stores we came across. My Mom had given me some spending money before I left in case I found a special Coca-Cola piece I couldn't leave behind. This special piece ended up being a Coke 18”x4” tray with the painting of a beautiful blonde woman dressed in a blue dress suit of the 1930’s. I remember wondering, once back in the car, if there were girls in the 1950’s who were enamored with the 1920’s and 30’s. Perhaps everyone has felt at least a little nostalgia for the past.
We traveled through 11 states that summer, and we each took away something different. For my step-mother, I watched as she took a journey back home. I had refused to take the time to understand or truly see her before, but on that trip I watched as both a peace and an excitement spread within her. We visited her family and friends in Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. This was the environment she knew and the people that had helped shape her. This was where she felt loved and comforted.
I drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco yesterday. It’s a much shorter road trip and I didn’t go the scenic route to take in Big Sur or search for antique stores. I simply took a journey that I’ve taken many times before. A journey to family friends that have known me since I was a little girl and have helped to shape me into the woman I am today; a journey to the people that know my history because they were there experiencing it with me. Sometimes one just needs to journey towards comfort.
*Rockin' out to 60's French pop princess Brigitte Bardot.
*After a day of road tripping, I'm wrinkle free! Vintage scarf, white sleeveless blouse and orange skirt from American Apparel, white socks and camel Oxfords from Nordstrom.