My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

To Misery or Missouri?

Sardines are lucky. I was jealous of sardines. Sardines were packed in liquid so that, unlike me, they could slip around a bit. Five people. In one car. For 14 hours. Our annual trip to Missouri is never what I would call a pleasant experience, lengthy car rides not being my favorite mode of travel, but this one took the cake. Add one more person to our party and BAM! I was sitting in the middle in the back, with one foot on either side of that inevitable hump between the seats (As an aside, does anyone actually know why that hump is there? Is there a valid purpose for it, or is it put there just to make the middle-seat rider especially uncomfortable and serve as a constant reminder that they are, in fact, sitting in a middle seat?) We not only had ourselves packed into the front and back seats but, because the trunk was crammed with suitcases and bags and packages and who-knows-what, we had computer bags and backpacks and pillows and food bags packed around our heads and feet. If we had a wreck, only the driver would have moved. The rest of us would have melded into the luggage and metal and whatever tree we hit to become a sort of instant spectacle: travelers in amber.

My dad’s feet were cold. The entire trip. Constant calls from him to “turn up the heat!” left the rest of us feeling as if we were stuffed into a pressure cooker. I’m giving that man some wool socks.

My grandma, aunt and uncle, great aunt and uncle, and at least four cousins live in Missouri, making it a traditional gathering place for Christmas celebrations. Before my grandpa died, he and Grandma lived in a huge old house that had been standing in its spot for more than a hundred years. It had seen World War II soldiers bunking under its eaves as well as it had seen babies bouncing down its curving staircase. For years I had strange and fantastical dreams about that house, with its mysterious attic rooms and shaky narrow walk areas by the second-story windows. I actually put my foot through the upstairs floor once, and it lent an aura of danger to the entire experience. After that it was understood that some areas just weren’t safe to walk on. I would dream that behind the shady doors were more and more flights of stairs that led up and up in never-ending levels to curving passageways and hidden treasures.

Post-Grandpa, Grandma sold their antique business and moved from the big old house into a tiny apartment. Now when we visit Missouri we stay with my dad’s brother and his family in the house they built out in the middle of nowhere by a small lake. It just isn’t the same. Still, it’s great to spend time with family, especially if the other cousins show up. And then there’s always Grandma’s pumpkin pie, to which no other pie can compare.

This year, however, I knew that the cousins who lived in non-Missouri places would not be there. Even worse, Grandma was in a nursing home and would not be making any pumpkin pie. It would have been helpful to have pumpkin pie to look forward to during 14 hours in a middle seat. To make up for the pie, and to appropriately dull my senses, I took a nausea pill supplied by my sister (who should really look into drug dealing as a career) and promptly zonked out for pretty much the entire trip. Much to my annoyance, we took frequent bathroom breaks and food stops. I just wanted to sleep undisturbed for 14 hours. The drug kept me asleep enough to avoid becoming as completely tired of the drive as my travel companions, who were battling the rain that slowed us down considerably. Toward the very end of the trip, I woke up and began to watch Pride and Prejudice. “Why have I never seen this incredible movie before?!” I thought. And then, finally, we were there.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bringing Home the (Ex)Boyfriend

The home visit. It tends to be kind of a big deal, even when you’re firmly entrenched in a solid relationship and ready to make big life decisions. When the visitee and you have a sort of ambiguous relationship status, it’s hard to know whether it’s a bigger deal (like some sort of deciding factor) or not that big of a deal at all (just like bringing a friend over). It was only the second time I had ever had a man accompany me to my parents’ home, the first time being about 7 years ago with my first college boyfriend. That one had mixed results and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect this time.

I’d been worried that he and I would feel awkward putting ourselves into a family visit situation when even we weren’t sure what was going on between us and that it would be really stressful for us both, but I needn’t have had such thoughts. We didn’t feel awkward at all. In fact, we felt better than ever and had an amazing time together just being ourselves. He got to see all the atrocious pictures of me wearing pink shirts and purple corduroys with Velcro shoes and orange laces. We found a terrified armadillo by the creek in the woods. He met my maternal grandparents and took the time to talk with them. I was sad that he couldn’t stay longer.

Group Picture

Group Picture

The only negative really was the consternation of some people who didn’t realize it would LOOK like we were any old regular dating couple and felt that they had been lied to when I’d said “I’m not sure how I feel”. Truthfully, the dynamics between my manly man and I had been so constantly evolving that it was difficult for me to remember what and at what points I had or had not given family and friends an accurate picture of the situation. I guess that even if I was wavering inside, it would have been beneficial to give people an accurate view of what to expect. Those follies aside, it was all a smashing success.

After Church

After Church

With some guys, you might worry that they’ll be bored in a small town or find your family frustrating and strange, but he’s not one of those guys. I was completely relaxed, knowing that he would be able to enjoy himself even if conditions weren’t ideal (i.e. it had started to rain, we were running late, other people were spazzing out, and he forgot to bring a belt). I think that because of his relaxed and laid-back attitude, I actually felt more peaceful myself during the days that he was there.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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