September 14, 2010

On the road (again)

"Are we there yet?"

"Funny, Grandpa."

We're five minutes into the trip, and we're just settling in. Mom's at the wheel, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa are sitting semi-comfortably in the back. I'm riding shotgun. From the mirror in my visor, I can see the back-seat occupants shifting to find a comfy butt-groove.

Since we're stopping for breakfast in 15 minutes, it hardly seems worth the effort at this point.

Gone are the days of my youth, when a family road trip meant logging as many miles as possible at a clip, and stopping to go to the bathroom was considered a sign of weakness (something I'm still trying to train out of my husband). Now? We're relaxed! There's time to spare if we need. Because the wedding we're traveling to is three hours away, and it starts at 4:00...

...and it is now 9:30 a.m. There's no sense rushing, after all.

After a leisurely breakfast at Cracker Barrel with enough sodium to kill an ox (say what you will, though -- there's something about a table piled high with biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, eggs and grits; it just feels homey), we...don't hit the road. I emerge from the bathroom to find the other four members of my party in different corners of the gift shop, browsing for cheesy merchandise.

But once everyone's satisfied with their purchases (and I've misread a label and therefore purchased Garlic Dill-flavored pretzels), we're off! Same seats as before, five happy bandits (now with full bellies and an armload of over-priced crap) hitting the open road!

If you're confused, it's OK. I did tell you on Friday that we were driving two cars on this trip. Friday evening, my mom called and said, "Grandma said she's sad that we're taking two cars. She thinks we won't get to talk if we do that. So we're all driving in their Lincoln Town Car. I told her you get carsick, so she and Grandpa and Dad volunteered to sit in the back so you could ride up front."

Now, hopefully in the time we've spent getting to know one another, one thing has become clear: I am sarcastic and, at times, mean. And the idea of being sandwiched in a car with four other people does NOT sound like my idea of a great weekend.

But I'm not a robot, people! I'll be damned if I'm complicit in making my tiny, adorable grandmother SAD, of all things! And the fact that she volunteered to ride in the back -- because I do get extremely carsick -- well... I'm powerless against that, OK?

As we jump on I-71, though, one thing becomes apparent: Grandma is not only generous and adorable, she's now also extremely hard of hearing. "Conversation" involves repeating things multiple times and/or turning around in my seat and shouting in her direction.

"WHAT? Shark bites?"

"No, no -- they put up new lights."

"Mark Price?"

"NEW LIGHTS!!"

Bless her heart, she eventually gets tired of the whole thing, and the back seat occupants turn to their newspapers while Mom and I chat.

When we near the hotel, though, she perks back up -- and all of a sudden I remember why this trip may make me insane.

DAD: (talking to my mom, who's driving) G, you have to watch for 275.

GRANDMA: (yelling) 75? Doesn't that go to Florida?

DAD: No, TWO-seventy-five, Mom. It goes around Cincinnati.

GRANDMA: (now appointing herself junior navigator, since apparently one isn't enough) OK, G, you're going to be looking for 275. North.

DAD: No, South!

GRANDMA: What? Pouch? What?

EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CAR: SOUTH!!!

GRANDMA: OK, G, what you're looking for is 75 South.

I realize I may not make it to the wedding, because I may have to throw myself out the window before we even get to the hotel.

On the way to the wedding, it's even worse. The map provided by the couple isn't proportional, and we're WAY out in rural Indiana, and we quickly have no idea where we are. I try to take advantage of the GPS in my phone and punch in the address of the family farm where the wedding is taking place; GPS's official position is "Huh?"

We stop in front of a one-room house with an open door that has a sign reading "Mike's Palace. Back Off!" Miraculously, Mike of said palace knows the farm we're heading toward and gets us on the right road...which leads us through a town called Friendship, which sounds lovely but which today is hosting the most bizarre flea market/festival/campsite I've ever seen. We pass by a giant banner that says "Body Piercing: Half Off!" next to the largest display of cow skulls in the history of time, and I hysterically think we may have passed into another dimension from which we can never return.

All four members of my party are alternately reading signs from Bizarro Flea Market out loud, yelling at people in the road, shouting directions at one another or trying to call someone from the wedding party. I consider making a break for it, but I'm too scared to get out of the car.

But then: We've made it. We're there. And the farm is nothing short of amazing: Acres and acres of land several miles from any other home, with a breathtaking view of rolling, plush, wooded hills. The house was built in 1848 and is simply exquisite. The driveway is lined with lights and tulle and flowers and greenery. Our family is there to greet us, and are simply thrilled to pieces that we've made it, and hug us extra tight to prove it. My dad checks out my mom's wedding duds and tells her she looks cute.

It's a wedding!




And my cousin S faces the love of her life under a beautiful trellis, and they take their vows:



Her son and daughter are junior attendants, and the newlyweds' three-month-old son serves as "Little Groomsman":



And S is more radiant than I've ever seen her:





And as we're listening to a reading from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "A Gift from the Sea," I can't even remember feeling irritated before. The couple is standing before us, so in love, and every member of my family is crying with happiness, including yours truly.

And then, of course, it's time to party -- in the decked-out, AMAZING-looking barn the groom's father constructed just for the occasion:

When it's time to go, I offer to drive. I hear my grandma whisper to my dad, "Is Shannon a good driver?" Sigh.

The next day, after another long family breakfast, we hit the open road once more. This time, all of us are exhausted, but we can't stop talking: about the wedding, how beautiful S looked, how much fun breakfast was, how happy we are that we came.

And we sing: You Are My Sunshine, Amazing Grace, K-k-k-katy, I've Been Working on the Railroad, hymns we remember from church, songs we made up.

And my heart just overflows.

(Here's where I was planning to post the video I have of us singing, which my phone just steadfastly REFUSES to give up. You'll just have to take my word for it -- we're a family of pretty good singers.)

I can't believe I ever balked at taking this road trip, smooshed into a car with these people I adore. It's something I'll always remember.

Then, around the midway point in our journey home, my 64-year-old father gets antsy in the backseat and turns into a four-year-old:


When they drop me off at home, my grandma hugs me tight, grabs my face with both hands and says, "I like you. You know that?" Then she hugs me again and says, "Oh, I'm just so glad you came!"

Oh, me too.

4 backtalk:

65 Roses for Marcia said...

Ok I have been laughing out loud reading this post...I can so get it (the trip conversation)!!! Did you ever think of that funeral song? If so, let me know. Did you sing keemo kimo?? S did look really pretty!

Written Permission said...

Of course you identified, because you know what it's like to travel with one of the sisters! :)

I JUST now thought of the funeral song: "I Know Whom I Have Believed." It was driving me crazy! Whew.

And of course we sang Keemo Kimo -- although Grandma insisted there were three or more verses none of us could remember. She also claimed (about 30 times) that Aunt Judy would know all the verses. This has yet to be proven.

wrestling kitties said...

HAHAHA! I think your grandpa's leg was just the topper to this post where I just had to stop and busted out in laughter. AWESOME.

Seriously, you crack me UP.

What a great memory to have though with your family...seriously I imagine you will never forget it!

Oh and how beautiful is your cousin?! And that dress was gorgeous!

And their son....melt my heart!

Abbe said...

a post worth waiting for, my dear. :) and in a VERY clear sign that i did NOT grow up menno, i've actually been to friendship, IN..... for this. http://www.nmlra.org/visit.asp

i'm terribly sorry if you got caught up in any of that hoopla. it's c-r-a-z-y. :)

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