Tuesday, August 19, 2014

American Summer

Why? Why? Why?!?

That is the one question many of my friends, colleagues and others asked each time I told them I was planning a cross country trip with my wife, Jasmine, and two of my children, 
Levi-Joseph and Opal.

I answered with a basic question...

Why not?

It was surprising that so many people thought our plan was crazy.

For me, it seemed like driving across country was what you did with your kids in the summer. Growing up, I remember zig-zagging the States in the back seat of our family car. In fact, I was introduced to this country framed through the window of our Chevy Impala. It was the best of times.

Back then, summer meant driving to Arizona and LA to visit our relatives. My memory of walking on the tiny foundation of the home my mother grew up in near Williams, AZ left an impression. Later I climbed desert trees with my cousin Frankie and can still recall the snapshot someone took of us. Then there was the time I spit sunflower seeds, for what seemed like hours, off the porch of my Aunt's bungalow in Long Beach, CA. I remember returning to Virginia and crossing the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel - my little cousin Jennifer pushed a button that sent the trunk flying open. Unable to pull over we kept moving along - thankfully, nothing was lost.

What may have seemed like insignificant moments at the time, I found were actually the foundation of my childhood memories. Each trip offered insight and introductions to a larger unknown world. For a young child, it was magic.

It was in these reflections that I was inspired to give my children, too, an American Summer.

*Click on any image to view larger or begin slideshow. Visit my site to view the complete essay. 


Arnel's op-ed blog said...

Loved the pictures (as always), and the story. I had to comment because I too have memories of the "drives" to some distant destination. We grew up riding in the back seat of our parents'/uncles'/aunties' cars/station wagons/conversion vans. I remember pitch black nights on old Interstate 64 with skies full of stars. Trips to Canada, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, NY, West Virginia - long trips, usually with some horrible tape running over and over again on those old cassette radios. Lots of good memories and visions of landscapes flying by.

It is sad that a lot of these trips have gone away because of the rise in cost of gas and the loss of time for a good ole' family vacation. It would be cool to see a series of everyone's pictures of a trip like yours. Thanks for sharing!


Thanks Arnel. I can imagine your trips were very much like mine were when I was growing up. More people need to hop on the road and keep the American road trip alive.

I agree, a series of work that shared everyone's pictures from family road trips would be awesome to see!