Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

My first major road trip took place when I was 2 1/2. It was with my mom. New York City to Seattle. In a carmengia. My mother tells me it confused my potty training a bit - for obvious reasons, I had to learn to squat to pee on the side of the road, and was reluctant to give up the practice even when we were in the vicinity of a toilet.

The first major road trip that I can actually remember was with my dad, step-mom, and 7-year old step-sister. Seattle to Mazatlan and back. Still a vw, but this time a camper van. It was the summer before I turned four.

That trip formed many of the earliest memories I have of my dad; formed many of my earliest memories, period. I remember thinking the van was HUGE, even with four of us crammed inside. I remember fighting with my sister about who got to sleep in the hammock. I remember the map taped to the ceiling, each place we stopped marked in red. I remember that as the trip wore on, it was almost impossible to tell which red dots marked places we'd actually stopped, and which marked the final resting places of squashed mosquitoes. I remember the redwoods. I remember my sister, nose buried in a book, saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've seen TREES before." I remember swimming in our underwear. I remember water snakes. I remember being force fed a salted tomato and spitting it with disgust into the face of my step-mom. I remember my dad teaching me that you're not supposed to swallow toothpaste when you brush your teeth. I remember Disneyland, and my utter disappointment at being too small to go on most of the rides, and my joy at being held high on my dad's shoulders so that I could see the light parade. I remember Mexico, and my surprise that the people spoke the same nonsense language as my babysitter back in New York. I remember my dad's surprise at the discovery that his daughter spoke rudimentary Spanish. I remember the children being fascinated by my blonde hair, and their parents offering to barter for it. I remember my sister being attacked by a hummingbird, who was equally fascinated with her hair. I remember falling into a public toilet because my butt was too small for the seat. I remember my step-mom insisting that I reenact it so she could take a picture. Most fondly, I remember when my step-mom and sister would disappear on an errand, and I would stay behind with my dad to help him change the van's oil.

Next spring, The Kid and I will be packing up the car for a similar trip of our own, and I'll be spreading my dad's ashes along the way. It's taken me a long time to figure out what to do with Pops, but this feels right. I think he would approve. (Anything's gotta be better than spending the eternal afterlife on a shelf in the closet of my spare room.)

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I hope my kiddo grows up to love his daddy as much as I love mine.

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