I had always hated driving, which may have something to do with the fact that I traveled cross-country for most of my childhood years. My life lately includes a lot of it, with a granddaughter in Northern Massachusetts and a daughter attending school in Hartford. Surprisingly, I have learned to enjoy it! I find myself bopping away to music, using my right arm as a conductor’s baton, (one, two, three, four; the movements from music class carefully ingrained into me.) Worse yet, one can find me huskily singing along with great enthusiasm.

Taking non-highway routes as my father always did, the variations of scenery are fascinating. Children play on swings, grandmother sitting nearby, and clothes swing on a clothesline; do they use an old wood stove for cooking? Do they have an “icebox” instead of a refrigerator? Have I crossed over into the Twilight Zone? I remember driving through the same scenes as a child.

Many of the houses are memorable. One with natural wood and white shutters has a toddler standing in the window, waving, green curtains framing her. It is only after a few trips that I realize that that same child is always in the same position, waving, but wearing different clothing. It is not a child at all, but a doll that is lovingly cared for and placed in a prominent spot for all to see. Another red shuttered house has a flag waving on the front porch, a decoration to herald in the seasons and special occasions. With St. Patrick’s Day done and over, a Welcome Spring now blows in the wind. Driving, I take stock of such silly things as how much wood is piled in front of the lumber factory. (During the winter, the pile has diminished.) I was excited to drive by the nursery this spring.  During the winter after the holidays, it had withering Christmas Trees and wreaths, and was a  stark and unwelcome place. (The owners were probably enjoying sunny Florida.) Now, it is abloom with colors, flowers blazing in the sunlight, sunflowers winking at me, mums in pots and rose bushes awaiting planting.  Such a joyful place to drive by.

It was only as an adult that I realized that my dad and our family traveled so much because of his severe posttraumatic stress from the war. We criss-crossed the country, driving on the back roads. Driving hypnotized him into peace, keeping the awful memories at bay while experiencing the delightful ones of finding new places and exploring the many geographical areas of the country.

Driving the back roads has become more important to me now. No flash of highway exits and speeding cars, but leisurely driving through the countryside, relaxing my thoughts. Often, when observing the bright blue sky and puffy white clouds, the bright yellow sun will make its way down as a brilliant stream of light, and tears will inexplicably sting my eyes. Pure peace and joy. I have finally been able to fully understand the importance of traveling.



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Comments on: "I Know Why My Family Had To Travel" (9)

  1. I can relate to this. I avoid highways and travel back roads. There is so much more to see. Taking the same routes every year to visit my out of state kids, I begin to feel as though I know the inhabitants of certain picturesque houses and start to look upon them as friends I haven’t met yet.

  2. I have enjoyed road trips since I was a child. We lived in California but my grandparent were in Texas. So every summer, we piled into the van and traveled across Arizona and New Mexico to Texas. I’ve also fantasized about what it is like to live in the different places I have seen. I’m glad you’ve found a way to enjoy your trips, to see the beauty, and treasure the memories. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great to turn a potential negative into a positive, and it sounds as if there is much more to see than on the average Australian open road. Maybe the toddler will invite you in for a coffee and chat one day 🙂 We had an icebox until I was seven – that comment gave me a flashback. I even wrote in my memoir how I missed the iceman when we changed over to a refrigerator.

  4. I always loved traveling since I was a kid, although I didn’t travel much I wish I did. When I become more financially able to do so, I hope to travel more often with my daughter. btw, great post!

  5. I traveled a lot as a child then in my late twenties away I went again in a VW bus with a boyfriend…all over the US, Mexico, Canada–had the time of my life. Now, in my seventies, I’m once again going places with my son and his girlfriend. I’m still having the time of my life.

  6. Road tripping was always a multi-family affair with us. 10 people packed into a car, no seat belts, lots of singing, and stopping for fries to share. Thanks for bringing back these great memories for me.

  7. I too enjoy driving the back roads. There is something storybook-like about the splashes of life just going on about its business as you drive through. I need to subject my boys to some road trippin’.

  8. We almost never traveled when I was a child, so now it is a great adventure whether packing the car or waiting at an airport. Nothing like it. I enjoyed this post and loved your book. Hope your life has many tears of joy moments.

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