Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are We There Yet?

With Spring Break coming over the horizon soon,
I suddenly drifted back into my memory banks today
to some memorable family vacations.
Young spring days
and hot sultry afternoons...
back when my husband and I were naive enough-
and crazy enough-
to pack up our brood
for a road trip.

Was our trip to Disney World really 20 years ago?
I swear my back is still peeling from the sun
and my feet still hurt from cobblestone walks
and long waits in line.
And I can still smell cotton candy and popcorn
and smoked turkey legs with mustard.
I can still see the kid's faces
as they slid through some water ride
like happy puppies.

Their enthusiasm and wonderment was contagious,
and for a single fun-packed day,
my husband and I became children, too.

But, wait-
Let's back up a moment-
What you have to realize is
that it was pure hell getting there.

We didn't have DVD players
or Ipods
or even CD's back then.
The best we had to work with was
crappy car games
with checkers so little they made
a Tic Tac look huge-
and Connect Four pieces
that kept falling between the seats
and becoming lost with
a thousand old french fries.

Of course, even at their young age,
our three children were too cool
to sing along with Dad
or play "I'm going On A Picnic"
with Mom.

They cared nothing about stopping
in Georgia to buy pecans
or about standing in front of the giant peach
for a photograph.

The car wasn't fast enough to
get them to Mickey's house.
Yet, every fifty miles or so
they had to pee
or get a drink
or start a fist fight
that made Rocky Balboa look sweet.

No one wanted the middle.
Everyone wanted to choose a radio station.

They were too hot.
They were too cold.
They were bored.
They were hungry.

They felt a huge, looming need
to touch one another-
or kick each other-
or send us spiraling onto
the edge of insanity.

Those were the longest hours
of my life.
Worse than childbirth, even.

The photo they snapped as we
entered the Magic Kingdom
looked like five zombie tourists
without a clue.

Our frazzled hair,
wrinkled clothes,
and chalk-white skin
obviously labeled us
as tourists.

Me and my husband's blank stare
and weary posture
was grueling evidence
of a long family road trip.

So, once we had our fill of
castles and fireworks and sugar cones
and cartoon mascots
and glow necklaces
and water rides and roller coasters
and $3 sodas and pushy people
and carousel music and blurry photographs,
we had to get back into the car
for the unbearable trip home.

Was it worth it?
Today I'd say "yes".

What I wouldn't give
to be a child again-
just for a little while...