I haven’t been alone for more than a few hours at a time since Jesse was born. I hate people too much to live like this. I’m falling apart. So, with the recommendation and support of my therapist, I’m about to enjoy a spectacular 3 weeks BY MYSELF. Anthony left this morning. He’s taking the kids on a 21-day road trip to the east coast. First they will stop by my in-laws’ home, FROM which I’ve been implicitly banished (they’re English, so nothing is plainly stated and everything is guesswork) or TO which I’ve refused to travel since a remarkable visit 5 years and 5 months ago. It all depends on one’s perspective. After the grandparental visit, my mate and spawn will continue down to the Outer Banks in the Carolinas for plenty of beach time, followed by driving and camping through the Shenandoahs and Ohio on their way home.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, I will be enjoying my solitude in a blissful state of bliss. I plan to wake up and do this every morning: put the dog on a tether outside and leave her there until sunset, slip on my most comfie housecoat and hair rollers, and sit on the sofa with my feet up, staring at a wall, a stiff martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other. (Burp) I don’t even need the TV or any friends. I just want silence. Alone.
Wait. I think the hallucinogens I slipped in my coffee this morning are wearing off. What was I saying? Let me re-read that.
Right. Minor reality-based modification. I’m going on the vacation too. But I guess it could be worse.
(I’m trying to figure out how. Nothing so far.)
We have about 14 hours to drive to get to Anthony’s parents in New Jersey. Our children can’t do that in one day. They would go berserk and throw themselves out the car windows, if we don’t toss them first. So we’re taking two and a half days, which gives us ample time for park breaks and hotel pools. What a fun way to start a vacation. Sitting in a car. With two small children. For two and a half days. Until we get to my in-laws’ house. Yay.
We made it to Toledo, Ohio today, with about 7 hours in the car. Nick started out the day right by peppering me with incredibly addled questions about our trip, even though I believe our plan has been fully explained to him many times. Where are we going? How long will it take? Does three days mean we’ll get there yesterday? How will the fire start itself in the camp? Can I have my iPad now? Will there be Cheetos?
The first travel blip came when we made the mistake of stopping at a Starbucks, about half an hour into our drive. We needed caffeine for the seniors and smoothies for the juniors. I waited 10 minutes in line behind just 5 people, then another 20 minutes for the drinks. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t go to Starbucks often. Today I formed the distinct impression that Starbucks gives absolute imperial priority to drive-through customers, about 40 of whom ordered and were served after I ordered but before my drinks were made. Fortunately, the sting of this corporate policy wore off after I inhaled my mediocre nonfat grande ice latte.
We only got lost once on the drive, and only for a little while, somewhere in Indiana. Jesse had a panic attack and screamed at me after I missed an important exit. I didn’t think that was fair, because I think it was Anthony’s fault (he was navigating at the time), but I don’t remember clearly because Jesse’s screeching rattled me. Instead of dealing with relevant things, I got really grumpy and started nattering about how I was tired of everyone being grumpy except me, and I was DONE not being grumpy all by myself.
I thought I made a compelling point that called for immediate behavior modification, but instead my family just mocked me and then ignored me. So I made a sour face and pressed my lips thinly together in a way that surely made my profile more attractive to Anthony as we made random turns through northern Indiana, desperately trying to find route 80 again, this time in the correct direction.
After that, everything was fine. We got a room at a Holiday Inn Express in the greater Toledo metropolitan area, and Anthony took the kids to the pool while I ordered pizza. When I asked the pizza guy if there was any egg in the pizzas, he put me on hold to go ask the manager. A few long minutes later he came back to the phone.
“Okay. We don’t think there’s any egg in it.”
Jeez, I thought. In this setting, “think” is a euphemism for “maybe” and that isn’t good enough. We might not be able to get this pizza. I was just about to ask if they had an ingredient list, with a fatalistic expectation of food failure, but the telephone voice continued before I could speak. He sounded a little tentative, cautious.
“We make the crust here every morning. We use flour… Salt….Yeast and water… That’s all. So I think there’s no eggs.”
Ha! Happy mommy! I love it when cooks are overly careful. Jesse was thrilled too. Traveling can be hard for a kid with food allergies, and also for her parents. When the pizza arrived, Jesse ate it with gusto, until she was so full she felt sick. But sick in a good way, not in a get-the-epipen way.
Bottom line: day one of our vacation could in fact have been worse. The kids have grown up a lot since we went on our one-month camping trip last summer, and I thought they were remarkably easy to control today.
Tomorrow we’re going to pass near Oberlin College, where Anthony and I met. Thanks to our multi-day plan, we’ll have time to stop there even though we hadn’t originally planned to. We’ll show the kids where we met sophomore year, have lunch on Tappan square, pick up some Obie swag at the Benjamin Franklin store. We’ll tell stories about happy times (but not about naughty things we might have done). I think the kids will enjoy learning about the place where their parents fell in love.
Then again, they might just get bored. It’s a crap shoot with juvenile Homo sapiens.
One day down, 20 to go.