Two weeks ago I dropped The Boy off at college, after a four-day road trip that was stressful, emotionally thorny, physically draining, and one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. I wrote about it here, on Huffington Post.
HuffPo has a word-count limit though, so I wasn’t able to include everything.
For instance, I had to leave out the time we watched 20 or so Harley Davidson riders, driving in pairs. They would separate to pass, on both sides, the cars in the slow lane, then recouple in front of them, like pilots flying in formation.
Then later, at a small market, seeing more bikes outside, and meeting a woman in the restroom who asked if I was going her way and could I give her a lift. She was sweaty, distressed, splashing cold water on her startlingly red face. I apologized. I wasn’t going her way. She said it was okay, then looked at me with tears in her eyes. “I can’t get back on that bike,” she said.
It was 96 degrees outside, and it was the first time I’d ever considered what 96 degrees must feel like in a helmet, on the back of a bike.
I also wasn’t able to include the moment Adam, who’d been asleep for an hour or so, woke up and looked around at a flat, barren, seemingly lifeless patch of eastern Arizona and said, “Well, on the bright side, we’re probably in the safest place we could be in the United States in the event of an atomic bombing. What in the world could anyone want to hit out here?”
And there wasn’t enough space to talk about our stop at Indian City, a roadside attraction off Highway 40 in Arizona, where we ordered frybread from a woman sitting outside the tiny shack where she cooked up her customers’ orders. She went inside, and through the shack’s screened window, we could see how hot and tired she looked. Adam offered to bring her a bottle of water, and it was such a tiny thing, but I was so proud of him right then, for noticing her discomfort. For caring.
I didn’t get to write about all the little moments – good, bad, confusing, maddening, magical – that make up the best road trips, but I did write about some of them, and what it’s like to drive 1,265 miles only to say goodbye to this kid I’ve lived with, loved, and mothered for 18 years.
I hope you’ll go read it.