Monday, June 24, 2013

So Close to Happy

    Her mother and father were taking them on an adventure again. Somewhere. They never told her brothers and sister where to.  "If we did, well, it wouldn't be an adventure, would it." These adventures always started out the same way.  Her mother and father would buy a loaf of bread, a package of bologna, and a six pack of Pepsi.  Enough, for everyone in the car if anyone got hungry  Her father would take them to the local liquor store and there they would fill their small brown paper baggies with candy for the long trip.  That was always a perk to these adventures.
  That evening, each child would bathe and get to bed as early as possible; a hard thing for an excited adventure seeker to do and especially difficult for her.  In the middle of the night, her dad would quietly go around and lift each little slumbering body into his arms, carry it out to the car, and then gingerly place it into a car seat.  Each body except for hers.  When he approached her bed she would poke her head up and she would scamper to the car.  She was always already awake and would stay that way the entire length of the trip.  It didn't matter how hard she tried, she could never fall asleep.  The whirring of the tires and the hushed conversation between her mother and father lulled the others to sleep, but for her? It only helped to keep her awake.  
     Night driving, her mother and father called it.  Once she overheard them talking to friends about the benefits to driving at night with kids. "They sleep the entire time and we beat the heat."  They slept and as for beating the heat-that really didn't make sense to her either while she became glued to the plastic seats of their car.  It was always miserable for her.  She envied how her siblings could doze and wake up refreshed.  She guessed the one benefit she did have over them was that she got to see beautiful sunrises. She had seen many a sunrise in her few years on earth.  She loved staring at the sun peeking out over the horizon; keeping her eyes fixed on it until she could see spots beneath her closed lids, she swore sometimes she could hear the earth sizzle as it poked its head out.
      The sweat from her neck trickled down her chest and formed a V on the front of her favorite sundress.  She raised her chin and pulled on the little cap sleeves using them to wipe the stickiness from around her neck. This would help keep her cool for a split second until the perspiration inevitably formed again.  She ripped one leg off the plastic seat, held it up for a few seconds fanning the underside of her leg, then repeated the same motion with the other leg.
       As she pulled the skirt of her dress further underneath her legs, she let out a long sigh and tossed her brother's foot off of her.  Then she did it again.  She had been repeating this same routine for what seemed a million and a half hours.  It was only about an hour really, but to a hot, miserable, sleep deprived 8 year old girl it was a million and half hours.  And to make matters worse, she had to pee...again.
      She counted passing headlights to keep her mind off of her bursting bladder but it wasn't helping.  She had to go.  Real bad.  "Dad," she whined from the backseat, "I gotta go."  She heard the grumble from the front seat and felt the car veer to the right.  The roadside dirt and rocks crackled beneath the rolling tires as the brakes squealed to a stop.  "Come on," her mother whispered to her over the idle of the engine.  As she opened the car door, the popping of the hinges echoed the popping of her father's bones as he stretched and yawned.  This made her mom giggle.  She climbed over two sleeping boys, over her sister in the front seat and stepped out barefooted into the total blackness.  "Hurry, we need to make time," her father growled from inside the car.  Make time.  He always said that.  She never understood what that meant.  It was the middle of the night.  What kind of time were they supposed to be making?
     Her mother took her hand and ushered her behind the car; away from the headlights and turned her back to give her a sense of privacy.  As they walked further out into the darkness, she was intrigued with the immense quietness and solitude.  This darkness didn't scare her.  Out here, in the middle of nowhere, the desert night was surprisingly cool and peaceful.  She caught her breath as a gentle breeze blew across her face, like a tender kiss from the night air it sent a tingle of comfort all over her body as she closed her eyes and held her face up to the sky.  When she opened them what she saw always took her breath away.  Above her lay an ebony blanket encrusted with millions of tiny twinkling diamonds.  She stood there mesmerized until the horn from the car jerked her out of her tranquility and on to her business.  "Let's go," her mother giggled, "before your father loses it."
     Into the car and onward to their destination.  "Where are we going this time?" she asked.  Maybe this time they would let her in on the secret.  She waited.  "Close you eyes and when you see it you'll know," said her mother.  She tried.  She squeezed her eyes shut.  She listened to the whirring of the tires.  She placed her head on her pillow and felt the cool sheet against her cheek.
     "Look, can't you see it?" The squeals from her little brother catapulted her out of her slumber.  "Wha, wha, what. See what?" "There can't you see it? There, peeking out."  She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and tried to focus in the the direction her whole family was looking.  It took her a few seconds and then it came into clear focus.  A peak.  A turret.  A castle!  She couldn't contain her excitement.  She had to get out of the car.  She had to run to it.  "Don't worry we'll get there.  Calm down everybody.  Let me park the car!"
     As they all clambered out of the car, she could hear her mother and father yelling after them. "Where are you guys going?  You can't get in without a ticket and you need shoes!"  But they didn't hear them.  They couldn't contain their excitement.  They were 20 yards from the ultimate in happiness.  Nothing was stopping them from going in and meeting their friends.  Nothing.  As they ran to the front gates they were met by a wall of people all waiting to go in too.  The gates were locked.  They would not be opened for another thirty minutes. What? They had to wait? What? Couldn't these people understand that waiting was torture?  So close.  So tired and yet she still had to wait.  "Ah rats! I got woken up for this?"


  1. Very cool!
    I grew up near Disneyland...way back then...when you could afford to go for the afternoon or evening after the heat...and ride a few rides and not break the bank. It is so sad how it is now- so very commercial and costs way too much to stand in line all day and only get on a few rides. It is still magic for little ones...thankfully my sister works there and I get to go for free :)

    Lovely post- well written!

    1. Aaah, to have grown up near Disneyland...what a dream! And lucky, lucky girl to have someone who actually works there:)

  2. Love it! I remember those hot sticky summer drives, although we used to do it in the full heat and slow traffic of day time. :-)

    1. Oh yes my mom and dad did that with us too in the days before seatbelts, yikes! How they did it, I'll never know...of tougher stuff my mother and father were made of!