My niece Kati, the extremely talented artist, is wrapping up her freshman year at San Francisco State University. It seems like only yesterday we were driving her and all her... ahem, stuff... up from LA to my alma mater. Hard to believe it was almost a year ago.
Now it's the end of her first year and we have to scoop her up for a summer back to her LA home.
Bright and early, that's my road trip preference. If only the world would cooperate w/ me, then everything would be hummin along but no... we must have obstacles.
Preface to this all: go with the flow. Release expectations. Savor the present moment.
Obstacle #1: Car not loaded the night before.
That was my ideal scenario. We had camping gear, toys, books, luggage... lots of stuff. Bringing a 2 year old on a 7 hour car trip requires muchas cosas but loading the night before didn't happen (oh husband, are you reading this?) so that was some extra time in the morning. Having a young one help you load a car adds another half hour to your already lagging schedule.
Obstacle #2: Lovely Child
Here mija, take some cheerios for the ride. No let mommy hand you the bag. NO sweetie, let mommy hand you the bag... Please dear, let go, mommy's got it. (child grabs bag by the bottom and yanks hard) Ay, Citlalli now there are cheerios all over the floor!
No mija, mommy can sweep them up all by herself. I know you want to help sweep with your toy broom, but it's getting late. Do you realize it's right before Memorial Day and I hate driving in holiday traffic so much I leave the THURSDAY before? (another 15 minutes go by)
Alright, let's go baby. What's that? You need your Pooh doll? OK, let's get Pooh. Now Piglet? OK, get Piglet. What other toys do you need? (My arms are full --- she insists I carry them).
Obstacle #3: Hurling Sister
I call my sister first thing in the morning to verify her state of readiness. She answers with this tiny voice, "hello?".
"What's wrong?" I ask her.
"I have a migraine. I feel awful."
"Have you taken anything?"
"I'm taking some Excedrin right now".
OK, luggage loaded, kid has cheerios and animals, car is gassed up, sister on meds. Let's get this show on the road, I say to myself.
I get to my sister's house in LA and when she opened the door I knew we were in trouble.
"Damn," I reacted, "you look like crap!" (sisters can say these things to one another)
"Oh, I feel awful. I think I should've eaten when I took that Excedrin".
I exhaled. People who don't eat when taking stomach churning headache cures REALLY bug me. I'm a planner, why didn't she take that into account?
"No problem, we'll be fine. Guess you won't be driving."
I should've noticed something was wrong as we drove. Usually extremely chatty, my sister was silent, head buried in hands.
As we headed up the grade towards the Grapevine, she took the LA times out of its plastic bag.
Why does she want to read the paper when she's nauseous?
And then she fired off: HURRRRRRRL!
"Oh boy", I say.
We pulled over to a carwash in Santa Clarita and dumped this bag of barf in a trash can.
"I always feel better after I barf". I always try to pull the positive out of bad situation.
"Yeah, I'm good now".
Up the Grapevine we go, barely making it to Gorman when we had to pull over again.
Side of the road, she let's it go for #2.
"Yeah, now I'm good".
"Well," I tell her "I know you're sick, but I'm really hungry. I want to stop and eat. You can have something bland or just enjoy not being in a moving vehicle for a while."
So we go to Panda Express right off the Grapevine and she got a Pepsi, thinking that would somehow help her nausea.
As we approached Buttonwillow, she let it go yet again. Big bag of Pepsi barf. My last bag.
We got gas and I asked the clerk for 3 or 4 extra bags. "Got a sick one in the car", I told the girl.
"Oh you poor thing", she said as she handed another bag just in case.
You reach a point in barfing where you know that you're better and I think that last one was it for her.
By the time we reached Santa Nella, my other sister called my cell to check our status.
I told her the barf stories and we all laughed. My sick passenger was able to laugh with us so that showed me she was better.
Meanwhile, Citlalli was a champ in the backseat. Having gone through a 48 hour stomach flu bug the previous weekend, she empathized deeply with the barfing. "Poor Suzy barfed!"
So here we are in the Bay Area. I can't come up here without getting super homesick. We're on our way to the Sierra Nevada foothills for some farm fun w/ my brother's friend and not really sure what we're gonna do the rest of the time. All my siblings are busy w/ Memorial Day weekend so we're playing it by ear.
Best news of all: my car doesn't smell like barf. And you better believe that my sis is doing all the driving on our way back!