Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Road trip-microcosm of life

It had been a while since I got into a vehicle with a group of friends and went on a road trip.

The destination is secondary to the journey, the people that are met outside of the cluster of people that are traveling together are also secondary.

Experiencing all of this together is what the road trip is about. The shared memories, experiences, and conversation last lifetimes.

There was the time my car broke down outside a bar in St Louis on a road trip to St Louis. The four of us who were together experienced friendly bar patrons fiddle with the inner workings of motor with their hands, a golf club, and a hash pipe. Those memories will never be forgotten by the those of us who traveled together.

There was the time when a group of us went to a Red Sox playoff game in Cleveland and were taunted, threatened, and had chest hair thrown at us. We will never forget those mental pictures.

But aside from those times the memories that will last were the wisdom, and conversation that occurred in the cars, vans, and trucks.

My first admission is in my earlier years a road trip was not to be enjoyed but a neccesary evil in going from point a to b. One of the favorite stories my wife tells of our annual trips to Vermont is being 7 months pregnant and the driver (me) only stopping twice in 13 hours for bathroom breaks. Moments like these show that the journey was not being enjoyed (understatement) but endured.

When moments on the journey are enjoyed personalities are unveiled, songs are sung, sayings are entrenched in our minds, and ideas blossom.

One of the saying that is etched in my mind from childhood was my sister complaining of riding in our ford fairmount from Vermont to Florida on the "hump" of the backseat.

A group of us traveled recently a couple of hours and the synergy that took place was remarkable. In between cell phone rings, and text messages conversation took place that brought this group both together and pushed conversations to places they had never gone before. This may be due to the fact that we knew we were going to be together all day with no other place to go and we allowed conversations to meander to places that wouldn't happen in a defined time and space.

Of course not all conversation and ideas are not worthy of ever repeating again. I have been asked questions and subjected to ideas that are ridiculous to say the least. One question asked on a recent road trip was "what if we knew what it felt like to be baby in the womb and then to experience childbirth?" That conversation doesn't normally happen within the context of normal conversation, possibly when someone is drunk but people don't generally allow themselves to be vulnerable in this way. The best answer was "see Looks who is Talking 1 & 2."

One other aspect is the social experiences that have occured during a road trip. When energy drinks first came out I was taking a group of teenagers to Denver Co some 20 hours away and a rather energetic jr high boy had a goal to see how many he could drink. After a few he was out of control and he was banned for those for the rest of the trip. Or the boy who wanted to see how many times he could lightly bang his head against the side of the window. At first it seemed harmless then after an hour it turned into chinese water torture.

Songs have been written, romances blossomed, and friendships forged all while riding together. I have laughed, cried, become very angry, and ever other possible emotion all while sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle and I wouldn't change any of it.

I hope this sparks memories that you have of road trip experiences you have had. Please feel free to share them.

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