Monday, April 16, 2007

Are we there yet?

I remember my mom telling me at some point when I was young(er) that if a relationship can survive a road trip, then there’s a pretty good chance that the couple has the skills to tackle pretty well any relationship challenge.

My parents, who are still married, tested and retested that theory for most of childhood by throwing two - and then three - kids into the back of our Mercury Marquis and making the 3-day, 24-hours-of-driving trek from southern Quebec to southern Florida. I remember those road trips with a great deal of happiness...

We lined up to buy gas (and Billy beer) from Billy Carter’s gas station during one of the year’s that his brother was president. We dove deep into the Shenandoah caverns in Virginia. We stopped at 50's style diners and ate pancakes for breakfast every day. My sister and I used hand signals to communicate with a truck driver who driving was on our tail, encouraging him to blast his horn at Dad. (We only did that once!).

So, back in 1991, when my best friend Lizzy and I decided to go on a two week camping, road trip to Nova Scotia and PEI, I expected the trip would be amazing. The theme was “Thelma and Louise” (to this day Lizzy still calls me Louise more often than she calls me Donna) and Lizzy and I even rented the requisite convertible for those rainy two weeks!

In the month prior to going on this adventure, I met Bill, who of course was immediately nicknamed “Cowboy.” (And yes I know it was Thelma who got the cowboy in the original story). Cowboy joined Thelma and I on our adventure, and it was, as I had anticipated it would be, one of my most memorable summer vacations ever.

And when we got home to Montréal, Cowboy moved in with me so we could save money to go on our next adventure: three months of backpacking in South East Asia. Just four months after he moved in with me, which was barely more than a month after we met, Cowboy and I were on a plane to Thailand.

Of course you know how that story ends. We managed 14 years of adventures together but his two week road trip to Turkey introduced him to a new travel buddy. Which, of course, left me open to do the same!

In three days I’ll be going on my most adventurous road trip since Liam was born: Dave (aka “Mr. Wonderful” in some of the comments on previous posts), his 5-year-old son Marcus, Liam and I will be packing into Dave’s MPV for the 22-hour drive from Lotus Land to Disney Land. Most of me is incredibly excited about the ten days we’ll have together, squashed in a moving vehicle... locked in a 337-square-foot hotel room… and of course, riding the coasters at the “happiest place on Earth.” And part of me is only as terrified of getting into that van on Thursday as I am of spiders…

I have no doubt that on our own, Dave and I could tackle the unforeseen circumstances of any road trip. I’m almost as confident that if we were taking just one of the boys, the trip would be a no-brainer. It’s the just-add-water, instant-family element of having two kids who only know life as being an only child, suddenly having to negotiate life with a brother, that has me taking the chewable Gravol with my meals today.

Mom doesn’t have any experience or advice for me on this one. I do recall a story that my grandmother used to tell about leaving a very young version of my dad at the side the road when he was once misbehaving in the car, but I'm thinking her advice should have been buried with her...

"Road tripping with a blended family." There ought to be a book. And maybe after this trip there will be.

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