Thursday, February 7, 2008

Car Trip

As my eldest and I get ready to go on a big trip (see the link with our trip blog) I am reminded of our fall travels. I am always telling my kids, sometimes you win when you just show up. My youngest is now the state champion in her class for long track speedskating because no one else from our state made it to the competition! Anyway, I am reprinting an essay from our last travels:
I have discovered one of the secrets of life: you basically get a high score if you just show up. Birth, weddings, funerals, all the big transitions, well, you just can’t phone it in or cover it in an e-mail. Bottom line, whether you are the protagonist or your garden variety witness, you just gotta be there. Forget the clothes, the manicure, the nice car. Just get there and BE.

So last weekend, I shoehorned 5 kids and my girlfriend/copilot into the mini van and drove 9 hours to the wilds of upper New York for the most ancient of rites of passage: A Bat Mitzvah. I have barely seen this girl in years, this angel who took the bimah with confidence and soulful artistry and transformed, yes truly transformed before my very eyes like a magic trick and took me along with her. But before I could be transformed, it was my job to show up. Now you need to know, showing up may not be the easiest thing you ever do: I HATE TO DRIVE; I took 2 days off of work and left my house (and my husband) in a condemnable state; one of my children is obsessive compulsive and cannot deal with anything new or different Ever, No Matter What, never, and the rest of the kids in the car needed to do a bucket load of mandatory homework which they proceeded not to do for 18 hours in a car with Nothing to Do. Along the way we hit something quite large on a stretch of middle of nowhere highway in the pitch black. I have come to decide it was not a bear. More likely an exploded semi tire that took out a piece of my front bumper. We nearly ran out of gas. We saw Niagara Falls and Lucille Balls hometown and the oldest billboard in America. We ate way too much really great food. We got very little sleep. We bought pumpkins at a farm with a view of fall color splashed mountains in the background. We bought orange hats. We swam in the tiny hotel pool and made waffles at the continental breakfast. We talked and played cards and drank espressos and wine with people who have known us too long to be impressed with our habitual bullshit and who already know our life stories so we can cut to the chase. We told stories. We packed an inordinate amount of living in a few short days. We caught up.

We showed up.

When you show up you get paid back in memories that you don’t have to file and that never fall in value like my IRA did last week. When you show up it’s the best there is.

Another daughter of our hearts has been ushered unequivocally into the rapids that lead to grownup. She knows she has friends shooting the rapids with her. And we adults, a lusty band of imperfect but fabulous Characters got to bask in the unseasonably warm fall sunshine and the love and the tolerance of one another before we were back, after 9 straight hours of interstate driving, to the piles of laundry, the bills, the car body estimate, and the soul deadening day gig……I learned I have a friend I can road trip with, and that’s a deal you can take to the life bank.

May you have many opportunities to show up.

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