My family had to do some highway traveling this Thanksgiving, and because there’s lots of time to think while on the road, at least when the kids are behaving, I thought about a trip I took years (and years) ago when my circle of friends was graduating from college. One of my BFFs went to a school a good three hours away and it was decided I would make the trip for her graduation with her parents. Oh these folks were some of the nicest people you’d ever meet in your life. They genuinely cared about me and my well being and were very generous in every way. Sadly both are deceased now so the memory of her mom during that trip is all the much sweeter.
I had never traveled with my friend’s parents solo so I I had no idea what quirks or habits to expect. I remember I brought some excruciatingly boring book from one of my classes. I guess I wasn’t quite ready for my graduation. We were traveling on a long stretch of highway and I was attempting to do at least a little reading. My friend’s mom started reading signs out loud. I didn’t think much of it the first couple of signs, perhaps she was helping to be a good copilot or something, but I soon discovered that reading signs was going to happen pretty much the whole rest of the trip. Now granted, her mom didn’t read every sign, like she didn’t announce, “Speed Limit 55.” She would read the advertisement types of signs: “Tire shop, exit 23 miles…” “Jim Tucker, Attorney at Law…” “Girls, Girls… oh my, never mind…” I remember at first being amused, she probably did this on all long car trips, but then I found myself using the out loud sign reading as an excuse not to get any of my reading done. Uh huh, I’m sure that was the reason why I didn’t make any headway in my book.
I don’t think I ever shared this story with my friend, probably didn’t give it much thought after the journey ended and we were busy concentrating on graduation festivities. It’s funny how I look back at that road trip with such fondness. Who’d have ever guessed this sign reading excursion would stick in my mind?
It was an easier life back then. No real responsibilities, much play and parties, the opposite of responsible really. Probably another reason I look back fondly at that time. Graduation marked the point of having to start being responsible, and my friend’s parents were a comfort, a safety, dependable, and kind. And we girls were about to be thrust out into the real world. It was all a bit intimidating, yes.
I don’t really have a wrap up for this story or some moral or point to make. I suppose I just like the memory and the simplicity that it represents in my mind. And oh what I’d give to hear my friend’s mom announce, “McDonald’s, next exit” just one more time.