Anatomy of a Family Road Trip

Monday
I spent last night at my parents’ in preparation for our, ahem, journey, but the power’s out, rumor has it parts of 95 are closed, and everything seems touch and go on account of the monsoon. I’m sorry, but rain now counts as a nor’easter? Doesn’t the fact that we’re nor’easterners mean that we can brave precipitation? Are we just getting desperate for some inclement weather? I’ve so geared myself up for this road trip and at this point am of the mindset that if we’re doing this, WE’RE DOING IT. We load the car, Dorie’s daughter brings us some muffins, and I’ve taken two Excedrin before 10 AM. Along the way, my mom proceeds to exhibit her inexplicable weather competitiveness, wherein every place in the world that isn’t her front yard doesn’t know from bad weather, and my dad puts Rush Limbaugh on the radio. (He’s also a Republican Yankees fan. Is there no end to my capacity to love?) Seven hours later, Dorie has called twice to mock me and suggest car games, I’ve read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, decided that since I didn’t see any damn gardens that New Jersey should actually be called the Burnt Out Factory State, and learned that Pennsylvania puts fake tree branches on their cell towers. The hotel is pretty generic but has an adorable little wine bar in the lobby. We finally get to my grandma’s (my dad’s mom) and take her to dinner. Phew.

Tuesday
I take my grandma shopping for a new comforter. I foolishly assume it will be an easy task, since she just wants something simple and blue. I quickly learn that a down comforter with a duvet cover is “too puffy,” cotton is “too wrinkly,” quilts remind her of the one she started in high school but never finished, sateen feels weird and flannel is tacky (okay, agreed), and the rest are “just too funny-looking, Red, I couldn’t put anything that silly on my bed.” Meanwhile she has a fake bird on her coffee table that chirps when anyone walks by it, but okay. We leave with nothing but a detailed description of the comforter that she wants that I’m fairly certain doesn’t exist. Next we try to find her a sofa bed. Mark calls during and I learn that while my cell phone doesn’t work in my kitchen at home five miles outside of Boston, it works beautifully in a furniture store in Delaware. He asks if I want to go to a concert with him. “I’m in Delaware,” I tell him in the flat tone that Mike Myers uses to deliver the same line in Wayne’s World. “What? You’re where?” “I know. It’s ridiculous.” Then I notice a store employee sitting on a couch nearby shooting me a look of death, presumably for mocking her hometown. I mouth “sorry” and she shrugs; it seems somehow appropriate. Later on I find that out of boredom/insanity, my mom has visited the gift shop at my grandma’s place and purchased a bear dressed like an Italian chef that sings That’s Amore. Back at the hotel, she decides we need a drink and buys a bottle of wine from the front desk, which she proceeds to drink in the lobby (with some help from yours truly, of course). The guy that I’m dating texts me updates of the game that night since I’m trapped in Phillies territory. The Sox lose to the Blue Jays, the stupidest freakin’ team in baseball.

Wednesday
Did I mention where my grandma is living? It was actually the whole premise of this trip. She just moved to a retirement community that was started by a guy who didn’t like the options available for his own aging parents. It’s basically like a lovely (and huge) apartment complex for people over a certain age, and they have their own restaurants and shopping and clubs (like book clubs, not nightclubs… ha). It’s like college, fifty years after the fact, with nicer accomodations and better food. And no pregnancy scares! Um, so anyway, it’s a great arrangement for her. Also, her sister lives downstairs. I text Favorite Cousin that, no shit, this is the kind of place I want to live when I’m 80. He texts back that I need a drink. Temporarily unsupervised yet again, my mom purchases a trio of jungle animals that sing The Lion Sleeps Tonight. It’s time to go home.

Thursday
Headed back, finally. I miss my friends, whom I love all the more for making me feel missed (via text, which I have subsisted on for the past few days). I miss my bed. I even miss work a little. Now that I’m home, the only thing I miss is my grandma. And Wawa, of course. When are we going to have those gems of convenience up north, already?

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10 Responses to “Anatomy of a Family Road Trip”


  1. 1 cupcake April 20, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Red,

    I heart WAWA, too. I went to school in PA and every time I go back to visit, my first stop is the WAWA nearest Villanova for Mac & Cheese. I know it sounds gross but if you haven’t tried it already, you should. It’s the best food after a night out at the local pub. Did you have a chance to have a Yuengling? It’s the best beer ever.

  2. 2 stefanie April 20, 2007 at 8:58 am

    I overheard a woman in Kohls recently shopping for a coat for her presumably elderly mother (while on the phone with said mother), and the ridiculously detailed specifications she was looking for (while claiming that what she wanted was perfectly simple and reasonable) sound a lot like your grandmother’s comforter dilemma. Good luck with that.

    Also, “guy you are dating” is still in the picture? Yay! (I mean, if it’s going well, of course… which I presume it is… Oh never mind; I won’t fish for details; I just hope you’re having fun.) 🙂

  3. 3 Darren McLikeshimself April 20, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Wow, that sounds like a very… full few days.

    They disguise their cell phone towers as trees in Connecticut too, FYI.

  4. 4 Single Jen April 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I spit out the iced tea I was attempting to swallow when I read “I’m in Delaware”. I have said that multiple times (though not really in Delaware) and no one gets it. Except MJ, of course.

    Who’s Anthony, who’s Anthony?

    ….my dwumma….

  5. 5 kate April 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Delaware! Guy you’re dating! Comforter! Much news.

    If you’re still looking for one, Pottery Barn has simple solid ones with little quilted squares. Not that they’re good enough for your diva grandma, but just sayin’.

    Glad you’re back.

  6. 6 Beth April 20, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    I grew up in PA but went to high school in Delaware, and every morning when I passed the “Welcome to Delaware” sign, I heard, “I’m in Delaware” in my head. Which is dorky. But yeah, Delawarians seem to love their ugly, duty-free state.

    And I don’t really get why Wawa hasn’t taken over the country. Everyone who knows it loves it, except maybe my mom, who thinks their hoagies are too salty.

  7. 7 cupcake April 20, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I forgot to mention a story. One night, my friends and I were out at McFadden’s in downtown Philly dancing up a storm when the DJ inquired loudly where all the Jersey girls were in the room. Of course, they all started screaming vehemently. Then he asked where all the Delaware girls were. They screamed as loud as their competitors. The DJ started laughing and proclaimed, “The only thing worse than a Jersey Girl is a Delaware Girl.” You can imagine the scene that ensued.

  8. 8 steve April 20, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Your dad has two big ‘ol strikes against him with the Yankee/Republican thing. But my dad has an entire inning of strikes and he’s still a good guy.

    Love the Delaware. Someday I will visit Delaware just so I can use that line.

  9. 9 metalia April 20, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Yeah, NJ’s really not a garden state, so much as it is a “noxious factory fumes” state. Oh, and “Land of a Thousand Malls.” (Born and raised there, you see.)

  10. 10 nabbalicious April 22, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Wawa is all right, but it ain’t no Sheetz! Have you ever seen a Wawa with a gelato bar?


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