How not to start a road trip

by CJ

This week, Walter and I celebrated four years of marriage. Rather than buy each other fancy gifts, we honored our love the Texan way by burning up some gas. That is, we went on a road trip.

Now, it wasn’t an ambitious road trip. Rather, it was notable for its modesty because we were only heading 50 minutes out of town. (Most Texans drive much further for a barbecued rib.) Yet to pootle along winding ranch roads, to drink in the charm of gruff country folk, to spontaneously leap into spring-fed creeks, etc. — that stuff takes plenty of planning.

Thus I woke up early to pack. My husband, knowing that I can’t go far without kutundu, kept a respectful distance from the piling luggage.

But Poppy, being two, couldn’t stop herself from getting involved. “We’re going on a road trip,” she told the dog, whose mournful chops sagged in the knowledge that she wasn’t invited.

As I busily stuffed road-trippy things into bags, Poppy unpacked them behind me.

Meanwhile and most irrelevantly, Walter spied that the microwave was flecked in dirt. With the vigor of a much younger man, he grabbed a cloth and began to scrub. And scrub. And scrub.  Soon, it sparkled.

“Let’s go!” I cried with rally rousing cheer though none save the dog appeared to have heard. Instead, I found Poppy unstacking dirty plates from the machine and Walter declaring war on stovetop grime.

Time passed. I packed an extra bag. I smeared sunscreen on Poppy’s face. I made coffee for the road. Still, Walter scrubbed the stove.

Tick tick tick. Soon it was 11 am and our road tripping morning was on the wane.

So I went outside with all the luggage. Suddenly, Walter bounded up behind me with a mouthful of words about windscreens. In a blur, he’d driven the car to the gate and then pitted his strength against dusty glass with a hosepipe. Steppenwolf got over-excited, Poppy began to whine and I noted solemnly that my coffee was getting cold.

So braving the spray, I tried to coax my child into the car. She refused … until I’d replaced her shoes with another pair … that turned out to be caked in mud … so I had to run inside and give them a good scrub. Meanwhile, my coffee cooled further on the roof of the car. When I emerged, I found Steppenwolf crouching on the back seat, Poppy at the apex of a tantrum and Walter foxed by how to restrain a dog, command a toddler, drive through the gate and not spill my coffee.

As we eased into late morning traffic with an empty tank of gas — and an unlocked house behind us — peels of manic laughter echoed through the neighborhood.

Mine? Walter’s? It doesn’t really matter. After 4 years + 1 toddler + 1 dog + Some Crazy Times, we’re definitely in this together.

(And in fact, we went on to have a glorious day).