Put your hands on a wheel, sit a teenager next to you and voila, magic happens! Your mind will conjure up an image of them spilling their heart and soul out to you during every last waking minute of the long 8 hour drive ahead. At least that is the picture that I put into my head just before we embarked on our long girls’ weekend trek to an out-of-state basketball tournament. Like a kid in a candy store, my excitement could barely contain itself, it was going to be picture perfect, euphoric! And, that my friends was my first mistake which I so often make. I dream up an image in my head of how something is going to happen. Of course, it never happens the way we dream it and I’ve come to the point of realizing that the dream often takes detours and it’s best to just let it unfold naturally and push out any expectation whatsoever.
And so we drive and we drive, and it’s not the symphony of word exchanges prancing throughout the car like I imagined. It’s blatant silence. The headphones are plastered to her ears, cancelling out any sound around and then the blank stare out the window for hours upon hours until the sounds of her stomach spoke louder than any sound in her head and up she pops taking off her earphones and of course, I fall for it, hook, line and sinker, thinking this is the moment I have been waiting for and she is going to lay it all on me! I see her mouth open to utter the very words I had been waiting for….and I wait for it….and she slowly says without even a flinch…..,“I’m hungry, when are we eating?”. Poof the dream cloud disappears, reality sets in, I sulk for a second and just chuckle in my head. Nope, not happening the way I had imagined.
We grab the cooler from the back seat and begin to devour our taco salad. I start making small talk about the salad and how I was so glad we packed our lunch instead of eating out ‘cause we knew we had a long weekend of eating out ahead of us. She says something like, “yeah” and then the second round of dreaded silence begins again with the infamous reappearance of the headphones. I learned my lesson and I’m now convinced that our magic moment probably doesn’t have a chance of happening so I pop in my earbuds and begin an audiobook. Hours go by and then a stop at a gas station to fill up and to grab a drink. I grabbed a water and she grabbed a random drink that I didn’t pay much attention to other than it said something about vitamins and water. We begin our trek again and like music to my ears, she begins to talk in full sentences…”Mom, did you see what was in this?”. I reply, “No, tell me” and I’m secretly doing the happy dance thinking here we go, we are having some dialogue. This is just the beginning! As soon as she begins rattling off what’s in the drink, I hear the words “Red Dye #40 and then Green Tea Extract”. I immediately say you have to be kidding me and it starts us in on a conversation about why they have to put dye in things and why in the world must they add Green Tea Extract (marketing code for caffeine under the disguise of healthy benefits of Green Tea all wrapped up into one)! Such a crock! I told her why don’t you wait until later to drink that before her basketball game; otherwise, she would be ramped up the remainder of the afternoon instead of getting rest before the game. So, she says yeah probably a good idea and tucks it into her duffel bag without another word. Wow, a whole 2 minute conversation, it was glorious!
As the headphones magically reappear for the third and final leg of the trip, I proceed to have a conversation in my head about why I set myself up like this and think something is going to happen when in reality it doesn’t. I realize my blunder and just accept it…that this magical car ride of bonding and sharing was nothing more than getting from Point A to Point B with a dash of lessons learned listening to a monotone audiobook about creativity.
After a couple more hours of riding in silence, my twin brother calls to check in on where we are and I see her reach for her drink in the duffel bag, take a few swigs and then return it to its place and then I watch her lean her head against the window and continue listening to her music. I get off the phone and tell her that we are less than an hour away from the hotel and how the evening would play out. She shakes her head and goes on about her business. About 15 minutes later, she pops up and the sky parts and she begins rattling everything that has been in her head the last 8 hours. It was non-stop, I could barely keep up following her each and every thought but I have to tell you, I was relishing and soaking in each and every moment of her sharing with me. That’s all it took, 7 ½ hours in a silent car and the magic that we all so often hear about happened…she opened her heart and she shared. I couldn’t have been happier. We were bonding!
It wasn’t until I realized she hadn’t stopped talking for 20 minutes straight, barely taking a breath, that it hit me…she had had some of that vitamin drink (aka caffeine) just a little bit ago while I was on the phone. OMG, I fell for it again! Hey, if caffeine and “vitamins” is all it takes to get her to open up and share, I will be sure and give her some at the start of every car ride from here on out! J.K. (Just kidding friends, but the thought did cross my mind!) For a moment, I thought it was me and my willingness to be patient! Far from it but oh well, the lesson here is to take it when you can get it and not to have an expectation of how or when or if it will happen. Trust and it will happen but it will probably be furthest from any version you could ever dream up!
The wise Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) once said, “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” This quote is a perfect way to look at this long drive and sums up our entire girls weekend together. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and all the memories that were created in one single, (very long) drive! It was worth every second!
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