Summer Road Trip

By Anna Mitchael

Summer Road Trip Packing Up Our “Y’alls” and Southern Drawls

The suitcases are packed. Every portable movie-playing device I can find has been charged and put in reach of my son’s child seat. I have — with possibly too much hope and naiveté — stacked the 28 magazines and two novels I haven’t found time for over the last three months in the floorboard of the passenger seat. Andrew and I have agreed on how many hours of political talk radio it’s fair for him to inflict on the rest of the car. And now that to-do lists have stopped ringing in my ears, the one gust of wind we’ve been lucky enough to have today carries the sweet song of Colorado: “Come to where it’s cool. Show your child what a mountain is. Take a break from your land where Tory Burch reigns supreme and rediscover footwear that serves a purpose other than sparkling brand identification.”

By the grace of God, with the power of technology harnessed in Pull-Ups for our recently potty-trained young‘un and an amount of fast food stops that would probably be shocking to people who calorie count that sort of thing, we’ll be in the Rocky Mountains after one day of intense family bonding on high-speed highways.

If that doesn’t sound like a rollicking good time, you must be sane.

Of course, it’s always the night before we leave for our annual trip that I realize we’ve forgotten again to buy a really huge Suburban. I know how Colorado folks love to see Texas license plates gleaming on those hunks of shining metal as we clamber for their climate and vistas. Instead, we’ll arrive in a rather enormous pickup truck, and I’m guessing that’s equally irritating to those with a propensity to be annoyed by Texans. Which, last time I checked, was pretty much everybody. And in Colorado, there is no “pretty much” — it’s just everybody.

There are some who might think searching for relaxation in a state where your kind aren’t welcomed is poor planning. But on the contrary, I find it rather freeing. Not only is it an opportunity to try and prove the stereotypes about Texans wrong — we aren’t all loud, flat-footed and obnoxious when we drink — it’s also a huge safety net in case everything goes wrong.

Just in case you end up screaming on a mountaintop because you came face-to-face with the footprint of a wild animal that has to be as big as your dog back home, then find yourself barreling to the bottom of the mountain as fast as your flat feet can take you straight to a bar where you retell the harrowing adventure at a volume that increases with the number of beers you drink. In that case, no one will be disappointed. You’ve simply met every expectation your fellow bar patrons established the moment they laid eyes on your newly-purchased rugged footwear (paired with socks to escape blisters) and heard that first telltale e-that-sounds-like-an-i escape your mouth.

Almost as much as I want my son to grow up in a place where people are who they are without regard for whether the rest of the world will approve, I also want him to know what it feels like to walk outside the safety of home to places where people might question your life — where you live, how you live, what you believe. Sometimes with a joking air to their judgments and, unfortunately, sometimes not.

And so we (barely) zip luggage, stuff ourselves into a truck and watch as the landscape changes before our eyes while we move into places where people aren’t sure what to make of our “y’alls” and southern drawls.

If they laugh and point, so be it. Just as long as my son learns to always stand strong on the two flat feet his mama passed down to him, no matter where life might take him.