The most awkward period of everyone’s life. Marred by the burning desire to fit in and sit with the cool kids; the desire to please your parents, but be accepted by your peers. Easier said than done.
For example, take the 5th grade Christmas dance, where I decided it would be most appropriate to wear a sparkly gold sweater and velvet stirrup pants. Complete with matching purse and choker. Add to that my mom’s obsession of steam rollers, teasing, and hairspray and you got this…
I thought I was stylin’ and that all the girls would ask me for fashion advice. Looking back, I was clearly mistaken.
Then picture that awkward, skinny, towering 11 year old version of me dying for the chance to dance with a boy. ANY boy. Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching every other girl dance only joining in when the Electric Slide or Macarena played. I was so desperate, in fact, that I decided to chase a boy around the dance floor until he agreed to dance with me. Yes, you read right. I CHASED him around the dance floor, in front of teachers, classmates, parents, and the DJ.
Not my proudest moment.
Every summer, for as long as I can remember, my family would pile up in our gray Chevy Astro Van with GrandMerle and Ottie to begin our 18 hour drive to Kiawah Island, SC. Most drives were straight through the night [Thanks, Dad!] but I never remember them being stressful. Perhaps this was due to my naivety at a young age or perhaps my family really was a perfectly happy traveling family [the latter would be proven incorrect circa 1999], either way my memories are fond of that entire trip.
I remember my family’s stops to Shoney’s, Casey Jones Village, and Cracker Barrel along the way. [Remember that line in Father of the Bride: II, “that’ll be economical: one child, two seniors, thanks”? For us it was 2 children, 2 adults, and 2 seniors. At Shoney’s? That was a STEAL!] I remember being somewhere between Arkansas and Georgia popping an occasional VHS tape into our van’s TV [yeah, we were soo high-tech], eating our weight in Peanut Butter Logs [courtesy of Ottie], playing Skip-Bo, Old Maid, or Go Fish! while driving down the road, or singing along to oldies [since that’s all my dad ever played on the radio]. And who could forget those overnight drives when my sister and I thought it was so cool that our backseat folded into a bed?!
Then came the invention of the Walkman and my purchase of Lisa Loeb’s Tails cassette tape, coupled with my discovery of The Boxcar Children, and my sister’s discovery of the Thoroughbred series and these trips were forever transformed. I’m sure my parents and grandparents were very happy about this newfound distraction on the long drive to SC, because my sister and I both became occupied with our respective traveling libraries.
Nevertheless, all of my memories of family road trips are like this [except for the one involving an RV, but we’ll get there soon enough] and while I’m sure getting there was the biggest relief for the adults on the trip, some of my fondest memories lie in that old gray van. Whether it was sitting behind my dad listening to Lisa Loeb and reading the Boxcar Children or putting my head through the hole of a plywood painting of Casey Jones, it was getting there that was half the fun.