Wednesday, May 03, 2006

To Be That Kid Again

I remember when I was a wee one, my grandparents would take me on trips with them in the summer. They had a comfy stationwagon and I had the entire back-end all to myself. LONG before seatbelts and kiddie car seats were mandatory. Back when a kid would wander all over the inside of a vehicle while Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa was screaming down the highway at 80-90 miles an hour. Grandma would fix up the entire back area for me. I had blankets and pillows, all my favorite reading books, crayons, coloring books... things that would entertain me for hours. A lot of the time just having those things around me was a comfort, I would spend most of the trip just gazing out the window at everything that was passing by. Farm houses nestled between trees, surrounded by acres upon acres of land. Deep gorges cut out of the earth to carry rivers to the sea. Little towns that were not in a hurry, where everyone smiled and stopped to talk to the new faces on the street.Shaded, cool forest roads where I would hop up to the seat in front of me and roll down my window so I could breathe in the musty smells of the forest. Coastlines,I would do the same, roll down the window and inhale the salt air. It is as if these things caressed my soul. When I close my eyes, I see myself then, tiny, sitting in a huge car with lots of room to roam around in, face half out the window, smile on my face, breathing in all the wonderful smells and fresh air, a peaceful and content feeling. No worries, not a care. I was also fascinated by other travelers on the highways. Passing us in their big cars. (EVERYONE had big cars back then. Big- heavy- slabs of steel on wheels.) Other kids crammed in the backseat, faces pressed against the glass, staring at me, as if to say... "how come you have all that room? Or, "where are you going?" Funny how kids will look at each other when out and about, but for adults to make eye contact, well, hell, that is just unheard of! Maybe we feel as though we would invade the other's personal space or something. Kids, they just stare at each other. It's like there's some kind of telekenesis going on.
I live in Washington state and the trips I would take with my grandparents were to the coasts of Washington and Oregon. Some of my best memories are of those times. Also, some of my most disturbing and saddest- but not right now. I am relishing these happier memories.To get from one side of the state to the other we had to go through a desert area, dry, unbelievably hot and just plain nasty. My grandma did most of the driving back then and she liked to leave on our trips at a time where we would hit that area in a cooler part of the day, but life being as it's always has been- didn't happen that way sometimes. Grandma was prepared though. She would bring a bottle of water and some washcloths or dishtowels, once the heat got too unbearable, she would soak the washcloths or dishtowels and then hang them out the window as we blazed down the highway. It would cool off the towels and we could press the coolness up to our faces and necks. I was always amazed at how quickly it would cool me off. We must've looked like we were in some kind of distress. White cloths whipping through the air. I wonder if anyone thought momentarily that our car was racing madly down the highway, completely out of control and we were trying to flag someone down. I never thought about that until just now... that is damn hilarious!

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