Written partially on the road between Delaware and northern Michigan over the past two days.
The car crests up along the highway that meanders through northern Maryland hills and forests, and I think, what a beautiful country this is, what a beautiful life.
Back when we planned two weeks of back to back family vacations, it seemed simply horrible to drive all the way to Delaware for the beach and then all the way to northern Michigan to see my family. Just too much driving.
And I thought the days of driving would extend like long and boring fingers around my neck, never loosening their grip.
Except now that I am in those days, I see that they are just days of driving through magnificent landscape with the people that I love and it’s all fine.
Long and winding, yes, but bright sun and blue sky and white full clouds and green green all around.
And yes yesterday was long and today promised to be even longer but just as we passed over the Chesapeake Bay, we found a little strip mall across from an empty soccer field and had lunch at a cafe that advertises its local fare and wow was the tomato coconut soup good.
And then I plugged in my phone to the dashboard and my favorite music played over the speakers and the kids shared the Caramello I bought at the gas station in Hagerstown by the C&O Canal and I realized how good life really is.
You see, it’s not about momentous occasions or even important moments. It’s all the little ones we live day in and day out which matter.
The conversations we had over the light of the blue moon on July 31st as the ocean waves crashed against the shore in the distance, which we could hear from the balcony on the top floor of the beach house but couldn’t quite see.
And my son and I talk about things that many sons won’t discuss with their mothers and I know life is good.
Or the simple act of walking across Ocean Highway to buy a $3 box of cereal for breakfast at the granite countertop before we drove off and my father-in-law taking picture after picture that we know will not be good but we smile for them anyway because it was his moment to remember the people he loves.
And at an innocuous gas station across from the Windy Inn Restaurant near Williamsport, the lady seemed eager when I didn’t just stop in to use the bathroom but also bought a small box of Cheez-its and a Caramello and she told me to have a good day and I wished the same for her.
I used to want a stupendous life of big events and notoriety back when I was in my 20s and imagining what might unfold.
But now, in my 40s, I realize that a good life is not about people noticing, it’s about me noticing.
I could have married any guy from anywhere and moved to any town and it would not have mattered unless there was love there in the midst of it all and laughter and home-cooked meals at a table where we sat together and where children who looked like us shared in the laughter.
The day passed and folded into a night on the western edge of Pittsburgh and the air was already cooler, the kids jumped into an outdoor pool and we ate pizza by the poolside, teeth chattering as we crunched our bites.
This morning, we piled back into the car after the hotel breakfast and headed west and then north and then further north for hours but it was, you know, fine. Ok. My family in a car driving toward people we love.
Yes, the car was packed, and yes the road was long, but so what?
As the city gave way to the country, the trees looked familiar and I felt so incredibly happy. My land. My country. My familiar trees waving and bending in strong winds.
Even my music on the radio – songs from so many eras I’ve lived – the Hebrew of Shlomo Artzi, the Beastie Boys, it’s funny how giddy I was to sing along with “She’s Crafty” – the familiar lyrics and tunes made me incredibly happy.
The car pulled in wind, but the day was bright with sun. My siblings texted from further north that the rain was like a monsoon, and we waited until the sky around us darkened and we started to see what they were seeing.
We drove closer, and it was energizing because we were almost here. And now we are.
Tonight at dinner, it was 10 kids at one end of the table, and 8 adults at the other end. I took a picture of six of the cousins piled on a leather couch and captioned it, “This is what we came for.”
I used to want to take a trip where the only destination was unplanned and we could just stop along the way because something off the side of the road looked interesting.
These past two days, we had a destination in mind with no room for stopping but I have to say, the journey was its own destination, and I really did love the journey.