It wasn’t that long ago that I sat impatiently on the couch as my mother opened her Mother’s Day present.
“It feels like a book,” she said feigning enthusiasm.
“Just open it, already!” I shouted.
As she pulled off the flowered wrapping paper, she held up a travel guide for NYC. She looked at it with a confused smile then back at my sister and me, “I don’t understand…”
“Mom, we’re going to New York!”
Our gift was met with screams of delight. Immediately, my mother began searching through the book and highlighting everything that she wanted to see. My mother had never traveled much in her life, and after my father passed away, she had become hesitant to do much outside of the house. However, my sister and I encouraged her to do more on her own and tried to stress the importance of living life.
My sister and I had decided on the trip because it would be a chance for the three of us to embrace our sense of adventure. Our family had been through a lot in the recent years, and my mother’s zest for life had been dampened. My sister and I were just on the threshold of adulthood and eager to take on the world. We wanted to reintroduce my mother to the wonder of life, but more than anything, we wanted to make memories. It is during those crazy journeys that you find your sense of humor, your determination, and the desire to conquer new horizons. To us, a road trip to New York was the perfect way to reconnect and heal.
There is something very nostalgic about a road-trip. It returns you to that time as a child when anything seemed possible, when the world feels open and you can’t wait to live each moment. We jumped in the car before sunrise, each of us still in pajamas, carrying our pillows and buzzing excitedly about the journey ahead. The three of us, packed in the car like sardines, made the day’s drive from Michigan to New York. We listened to our favorite songs, singing at the top of our lungs. At every rest stop we got out and bought snacks at the vending machine and looked at the big map in the lobby watching as we inched our way towards our destination. We flipped through the glossy pages of magazines shouting out celebrity gossip and discussing how cool it would be if we got to see a celebrity.
When we finally made it to the Lincoln tunnel, it was rush hour on a Friday. As a fearless, new driver at 16, I had offered to drive in the city. However, the horrendous traffic was enough to make me break out into a cold sweat. We were stuck in traffic for hours just trying to go a few blocks to our hotel. I was close to tears when we finally made it to the front door and considering cutting up my license. My anxiety grew as the valet stood their rolling their eyes at us as we climbed out of the car clumsily dropping garbage from the back seat and awkwardly trying to stomp on it to grab it before it blew away. As we ran around the car, dragging way too many bags for a weekend stay, flicking skittles and chip crumbs from the folds of our clothes, and apologizing for the eternity it was taking to get out of the car, my mom started laughing. Once she started, my sister and I couldn’t help it, and we all began laughing hysterically. We laughed so hard it was hard to walk straight, and we waddled towards the lobby lugging half our house and looking like true “out-of-towners.”
After our humbling introduction to the city, we abandoned all notions of “blending in”, and we just explored. We let go of all fear, anxiety, and all things that hold people back from living in the moment, and we soaked it all in. All day we walked the streets checking out the high end stores, eating hot dogs from street vendors, taking silly tourists photos, and just experiencing life. We saw RENT and marveled at the talent of the actors in the first musical we had seen live. Through the streets we gazed upon historic buildings and stood at Ground Zero remembering all those lost on 9/11. It made us look at the world differently. The city, so different from our own small town, inspired a broader view of life.
When I think back to that trip, it marks the time in my life that I was slowly moving towards my own independence, and it was one of the last family trips that we took together. I look back on that trip fondly, and I see those pictures and remember feeling so free and happy. It also gave my mother the encouragement to start exploring her own independence. Those are memories that I will always carry with me.
Life is about the shared experiences we have with those we love. It’s not really about where you are going, it is about who you are going with.
Mother’s Day is May 10th this year, and it is coming up quickly. Give your Mom a gift she will always love and remember and consider taking her for a good ol’ fashion road trip. Make memories that will last forever with one of the most important people in your life. If you do hit the open road, be sure to make sure your vehicle is up for the challenge.
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Do you have a favorite road trip memory to share?
Thank you Discount Tire for sponsoring this conversation. All opinions and thoughts remain my own.