One of my most vivid memories from my childhood comes from being in the car as a family. Whether we were driving home from Godfather's Pizza on a Saturday night or taking a 12 hour road trip to Nebraska (I trust my mom will read this and correct me if I'm wrong on the number of hours it takes to get to Smalltown, NE from Billings, MT), I always felt safe, comfortable, and completely content in the car with my mom, dad, two sisters, and brother. Thinking back, it's actually kind of funny how safe we always felt considering the fact that every time, during winter months, we came to the corner of Wicks Lane and Dogwood Drive, my dad would do his very best (and usually succeed) in spinning our old ford station wagon into a series of brodies (aka, donuts or cookies - depends on the town in which you grew up). My siblings and I can still mock the sound of my mom's voice perfectly as she would predictably scream a two syllable "Dii - iickk!" (that's my dad's name - well actually it was just Dick). Don't worry though. While my dad could act like a child at times - a very endearing quality in his children's eyes - he really was a very safe driver. I can even remember a plaque hanging on the wall in the family room of my childhood home, given to him by his company (Consolidated Freightways where he was Terminal Manager), that actually credited my dad with a SAFE DRIVER AWARD. Anyway, I think each of my siblings could attest that being in the car together, especially at night was a lovely and comforting time. I'm sure at this point, you're imagining four well behaved children in the back of a station wagon singing church songs. Not true of course. There were many occasions where my dad would put his arm across the back of his bench seat and say "Kids, if I have to pull over.......OR.....Kids, I'll turn this car around and....." (and what??? We truly never found out though it did shut us up for the time being). But still, regardless of of the chaos, fighting, and almost dying by brodie spins, those memories left a very positive and happy mark on that time of my life.
Fast forward 15 years to my life in Missoula during and post college. I lived with Juli, my sister and best friend. We often joked about having to seek therapy because - unlike others we knew, who had to heal from their painful childhoods, we had to mourn the ending of our seemingly perfect childhoods. Tough stuff. Tough stuff. *sigh* I dated a few different boys during that time in my life (shut up Juli) but eventually settled on being completely content as a strong, independent, single woman. Maybe I'd get a dog. Move to Seattle. (Don't worry, this is all going somewhere). Then one day I met Brad (yep, that's where this is going). Hmmmm, I'm thinking...., he's super hot. Seems really nice. .......healthy.....mature....responsible. Whatever though (ahem) - I'm a strong, independent, single (?) woman. After dating a few weeks, he invited me to attend his best friend's wedding with him (isn't that the name of a romantic comedy?) On the drive back into town that night, I dozed off in the car for a few minutes. When I woke up, I had a most nostalgic feeling. We seemed to be driving in slow motion, great music playing on the radio, Brad quietly mouthing the words to the song, the lights from the "city" reflecting on the windshield. One word popped into my head - "HOME" (and not because I was almost home). Now it certainly would not have been smart of me to bank my entire future on that googly eyed (and somewhat Freudian) moment of one of our first REAL dates, and I won't go into all the details or reasons why we ended up where we are now but.............(yes this is still going somewhere).
Fast forward 15 years. Present time. Its Friday Night. Brad says "lets go for a drive". The kids, already in their jammies, run up to get blankies and pillows, giddy with excitement! (I know, it doesn't take much, right?) We pile in the truck and drive nowhere and everywhere around our tiny town of Whitefish. Off on the back roads, avoiding many deer along the way....we have great music playing on the radio. (okay fine, it was on the ipod - it IS 2012) The kids, Brad, and I are all singing at the top of our lungs to every song. We're smiling ear to ear. We drive around twice as long as we planned on because we keep thinking of another song to play. (You're welcome, Environment. We do what we can). I look over at Brad smiling and say "I'm not ready to go home". (Partly because his truck has heated seats). He puts his hand on my knee and smiles back at me while he's still singing along. I look in the back seat. By this time the kids are all leaning against each other, getting tired. Myli has pretended to fall asleep on Fynn's lap so I'll carry her in the house and appease her by whispering how angelic she looks. Fynn is gently playing with her hair because he knows I'm watching and will comment on what a sweet brother he is. Luci is, so very contently, looking out the window at the farm houses and singing quietly. (This was not long after we threatened to turn the car around because of their fighting - but lets focus on the positive, shall we?).
Hmmmmmm. There really is something special about going for a drive in the car as a family. Especially at night.
Anyone else out there have a childhood memory that has carried over into your own family life?