Fredericksburg, VA

9:43 PM

My computer and I are at the back corner of the hotel bar. Captain and Coke is our companion. A few guests of different age ranges are milling about. My parents are at the room getting ready for bed. A platinum blonde woman has looked over at me a few times haha.

As we get older, life gets faster. For me, that means the opportunity to spend quality time with my parents has gone down. I currently live in the same city as them, so we usually have Sunday dinner. I may see them once more during the week. And we are always together over the holidays. But I don’t get focused time with them very often.

I would say that today’s 9.5 hours in the car with them today qualifies as both quality and focused time. We are on a road trip, just the three of us. We are en route to Myrtle Beach, SC (my brother’s family is on the way from Memphis and my sister and niece are flying down later). It’s been forever since my parents and I have been on the road (it was usually four of us: my younger sister, them and me. My older brother is ten years older and was in college by the time we were all ready for road trips). I think the last time the three of us went on a trip of this length was when they were taking me to college in Arkansas.

We are all older now so the roles have reversed a bit. I packed the car. I drove most of the way. I was not hungover today (they were never that way, but I would always get a big sendoff when leaving for a year of school). And I was the one who decided we should veer off the path slightly to stop in my dad’s hometown.

We saw the street he grew up on, the church he grew up going to, the houses of family members, where he had his first drink, the river he and my uncles would ice skate on. And he told stories. About soccer being his best sport in high school. About his first drink. About his days in college. About his parents. About he and my mom. About us kids.

Today wasn’t craziness like the trailer I’ve seen for that move with Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand, The Guilt Trip. Today we just road tripped. We snacked (sandwiches, M&M’s, Fritos, pretzels). We listened to music we all were happy with (Beatles, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, and a cool Christian one I don’t know the name of). We talked. We had quiet. And I got to think about myself and my life.

One thing I learned about me on this trip is that I don’t think I could ever be a commuter, especially in Washington, DC. The traffic is insane! It took us 90 minutes longer than what Lady Garmin had predicted when we were outside of DC. I could not imagine a 90 minute commute each way to work. A lot of people do it, but I can’t.

Anyway, here we are in Virginia. Part two is tomorrow (hopefully in the six hour range – bring on the beach!).

The Captain may be making me a little nostalgic, but the moral of the story is that life is short. 9.5 hours in the car with my parents has been a great thing. We laughed. Granted, I lost patience with them a couple of times. They did the same with me. But most of all, we bonded. Having this kind of time together is a rarity.

If you can’t take a road trip, clear some time on your calendar for your parent(s). Make a phone call. Schedule a lunch. Take them on a date. Do something out of the ordinary. In the grand scheme of things, later on down the road, you will cherish that time with one another…