Monday, February 09, 2009

Bienvenu a Wherever

"How will we know when we get there?" I asked from the back seat.
"What do you mean?" my Mom replied.
"I mean, will it be different?"
She laughed. "You mean, will it look different?"
"No.It will look much like home."
"Oh. OK."
I sat back and continued reading my comic books. It was a hot summer day and the windows were rolled down. This was air-conditioning for us in 1979. I started imagining what it would be like when we got there. Suddenly, Dad pointed to a sign along the highway. "Say goodbye to Massachusetts," he said as the station wagon roared over the border into New Hampshire.
"We're in New Hampshire," I yelled. Mark and Barbara cheered from the back-back seat.
"Do you smell the air? Doesn't it smell different?" I asked.
Mom started laughing.
"So clean, so fresh. Wow. That sign said 'Bienvenu' - I wonder if they even speak English here. What if it's all French? We're screwed!"
Even Dad chuckled at that.
"How long is it until we get to the hotel?"
"Maybe another hour, Andy," Mom replied. "Just sit back and enjoy the ride."
I sat back, but I barely noticed the ride. I was too busy thinking about our upcoming stay at a Holiday Inn in Portsmouth before we went to Aunt Barbara's summer cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee. Until this time, we had NEVER stayed overnight outside the state of Massachusetts.
In fact, this trip was an exercise in Peterson family planning.
Dad had put a large glass container on the floor in his bedroom. This was our vacation fund. For the last six months or so we put all of our spare change into this barrel to help defray the costs of our first family vacation out of state. I remember adding all sorts of change into this bucket from the money I got from Paul the Barber to run his errands to leftover lawn mowing money from Grandma King (minus comic book expenses, of course). We ultimately saved 68.00 in the vacation jar and this all went towards our expenses. Plans were put in place. Dad took a week off. We loaded up the country squire and off we went to points north. I was 13 years old and the idea of staying overnight in another state was HUGE to me. I had never been away from home and never wanted to be.
I was truly too provincial.
This may be due in part to the fact that my parents neither had the time nor the inclination (and perhaps not the money) to travel. When they did talk of traveling they had set their sights on Florida - long after we three kids were out of the house and on our own. I got the idea that this was part of their retirement plans. I think going to Florida was the travel plan of everyone in their generation. In any event, we did not travel. When talk of travel did arise it was always in the far-flung future. While I think Mom may have mentioned going to Ireland once or twice, that was just kooky talk to me. Only rich people went to Europe. We were not rich. Again, I was excited to be in New Hampshire.
I am reminded of this story because, in two days, Jenna boards a plane to vacation in Costa Rica with a group of kids from her school along with their Spanish teacher. The 9-day itinerary includes a visit to a waterfall in the rain forest, a visit to some hot springs and a boat ride through the Tortuguero Canals. From what she has told me Jenna will try bungee jumping and ride a zip line through the canopy of the Amazon jungle. It will be the trip of a lifetime - until her next one. I have no doubt that this will not be her last trip abroad.
I am so glad that, unlike her father at this age, Jenna wants to see the world.
I want her to see it, too.
Safe journey, Jenna.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Wow! She must be psyched! Don't worry Andy...we won't let you get lonely while she's gone. Maybe we can even take a ride to the NB factory and get you some Zoomba shoes!

Great post friend ;o)

8:09 AM, February 10, 2009  
Blogger Bridget said...

So glad that Jenna has this chance to go. Yours will be in Costa Rica while mine is in Australia. What cosmo "parents" we are... Hang in there. You know she'll have a fantastic time. Now you just have to take a few deep breaths and wait for her return.

11:02 AM, February 10, 2009  
Blogger Andy said...

Kathy - Zumba shoes! Wow, can we???

Bridget - yeah, we're very cosmopolitan; you were just a world-traveler ALOT earlier than I was. I'm glad that our kids can benefit from our experiences.

11:15 AM, February 10, 2009  
Blogger 1st Lady said...

She'll have a fabulous time, how exciting! I remember my childhood holidays, myself, 3 brothers and a labrador piled into the back of an estate car, packed lunches, flasks of coffee, and long drives to Edinburgh to visit family or even to France... where my dad once drove us crazy listening to endless Pavarotti.

5:52 AM, February 16, 2009  
Blogger Cynthia said...

You've been tagged on my Feb. 17 post!

11:44 AM, February 18, 2009  

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