The term “road trip” evokes a wide variety of responses, ranging from pleasant nostalgia to relapses of repressed childhood trauma. But with 4th of July weekend looming, my family collectively decided what better than a road trip to capture the American sentiment? The thrill of adventure, the fresh country air, the blurring landscape painting a picture of a time when the virginal earth was untouched by human industry? For the record, I voted for the barbecue.
So for our nation’s birthday this year the four of us, my mother, father and imp brother set off to travel across this great nation by car. What better mode of transportation than the great automobile to celebrate this momentous occasion? What better way to honor American ingenuity than by pushing the limits of a red blooded American machine?
For the record, airplanes were invented in the U.S., cars were not. That, and our car wasn’t even built here (it’s a Nissan).
So our journey began from our home in Miami, Florida and continued north along the Gulf of Mexico to our final destination: College Station, Texas. Before continuing, I would like to point out that we were leaving Miami –a vacation capital of the Western Hemisphere, complete with beaches, sunshine, and civilization— to go to East Podunk, complete with tumbleweed.
The reason why we decided so unanimously that this was “a good idea” was that it would be nice to visit my aunt who lives there. She is studying for her Ph.D in clinical psychology at Texas A&M and had recently given birth to a bouncing baby steer (I assume that everything born in Texas is some form of beef product). This trip was an opportunity to visit her and the kid, see how they were doing so far from home, in the remote isolation of her little college town.
This is the story of my voyage, into the Heart of Texas. What could possibly go wrong?
Naturally before leaving for our short trip, the entire extended family and their friends, associates and significant others simply had to see us off. Well, by natural I mean natural for us. It was a rather uneventful ordeal all in all. There was coffee to be drunk, rum cakes and pastries to be eaten, pleasantries to be exchanged, cheeks to be pinched, the works.
The only slight deviation from the normal family get together was the newfound obsession my grandparents and great uncles and aunts had with my bodyweight. I had recently lost a significant amount of weight and for the first time in my life was what medical professionals tactfully label as “normal.” Regular family members would probably note the change with varying degrees of support, right? I only ask because I wouldn’t know myself.
“You look like you’ve gotten too skinny. I think you might have this thing I saw on my novelas, have you heard of anorexia?”
Yes. Yes I have. Thanks grandma.
So after tearing ourselves away from the clamor of a Cuban family gathering, we finally set off. Car fully packed and fueled, smiles on all our faces, wanderlust in our hearts, we looked like a regular set of Griswalds ready for a road trip. Oh wait.
To be honest, I was expecting the ride to be less comfortable. Sure, my left arm was pressed up so hard into my side that I could feel my ribs on my forearm, but I’m sure that’s just the anorexia. It was all very tolerable, especially with my iPod blasting my brand new road trip playlist. Soon I was drifting off to sleep to the sweet lullaby of obscure 80’s synthpop.
The next few hours were a blur of scattered memories. A billboard advertisement for a discreet HIV screening service, depicting two young men tenderly holding each other’s hands, while their girlfriends look on disapprovingly. My mother asking why the singer from Daft Punk was “up all night to get sun? Couldn’t he just wait until the morning?” More pro-life ads than people (which I can only assume means that they aren’t working). Cows. A surprising number of cows.
After a long day of driving, we pulled into Orlando, Florida to stay the night. Tired but in good spirits, we dragged ourselves to our room and passed out on our beds. We had theme parks to see in the morning.
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