Sunday, October 17, 2010

The stuff of family legend

October 17, 2010

Way back when in 1984, about a year after my father died, my mother decided it was time for a road trip. She loaded me and my grandmother in her car and off we went, heading south, to Williamsburg, Virginia.

Forget the historical significance of Williamsburg. Mumsy had a culturally lower destination in mind - The Pottery Shop. If you've never been, think treasure hunt, because sitting side-by-side with some really tacky shit are true finds.

Williamsburg is about a four to four and a half hour drive from where I live, depending on traffic, etc. We left at five o'clock in the morning. It was dark. I whined. Mumsy hit the DC beltway, and I cowered in fear in the backseat with a pillow over my head. It became very clear that my mother did, in fact, possess the need-for-speed gene, and I didn't only get mine from my dad. I got the double whamee. I knew we were in trouble when she noted the speedometer only went to 100, and she slowed to 80 and kept right on going without missing a beat, passing everything on the road. When we got to Fredricksburg, I took the driver's seat and refused to budge. The color came back into my grandmother's face.

1984 was a time before cell phones. We reached The Pottery Shop and those two women took off like they'd been shot from a rocket. I didn't see them again for hours. I'd like to think they missed me, but who knows? Who cares? I had the car keys. Which meant I carefully packed my treasure in the trunk first. I'm not just another pretty face, you know.

When nothing else would fit in the trunk and the vacant spot on the backseat, and remember trunks were bigger in those days, we headed home. In a moment of weakness, I gave the keys back to Mumsy with the proviso I would drive from Fredericksburg home, which meant I'd drive the beltway. No problem - except for the fact that Mumsy was on I95 south to get to Williamsburg so she took I95 south to get home. You see the problem with this? It was my fault. I was in the backseat with my nose in a book. When I finally realized what was going on, Mumsy wanted to argue. I told her to wake me up when we hit the North Carolina line. She did turn around.

We finally made it home, and the day became the stuff of family legend. My grandmother declined to go with us again, citing it was too long a day for a woman her age. Personally, I think my grandfather had waaaay too much fun without her that day...But that's another story.

Mom and I had so much fun the trip to Williamsburg is an annual October pilgrimage for us. Every year, the first one out of bed calls the other. (I let her win, you understand.) We hit the open road at six in the morning, and we don't stop chattering until we get back in the evening, well after sundown. We see each other all the time, talk on the phone daily, but there's something about our trip that finds us sharing deeper feelings and opinions.

And that's the real reason we still go. We don't need additional earthly 'treasures'. Our storehouses are full. We are so blessed to have everything we need and most of what we want. In these times, the trip is a luxury, of sorts. A selfish day we share. A day for me to store up memories to hold me over through the times ahead when my mother won't be with me.

In the new millennium, we've missed a few years due to various reasons, but this year is a "go." The only variable is the day. Will it be this coming Friday or Saturday? Depends on the weather. It's a long way to drive in the rain so we don't.

And yes, I do ALL the driving now.

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