Last Saturday afternoon, Petey and I took a nice long car ride. We were making a trip to Scrap Exchange, in Durham. The Matthews Family Band has opened an Etsy shop, and I’ve been haunting all the art and craft stores in the area for supplies. We’d heard that the Exchange had a shop with a terrific, unusual inventory.
Even though we’ve lived in the area for many years, I still only knew one route to get to its location. That meant we had to go through town to get to our starting place.
We got a little off-track and ended up driving through Duke Forest. It was a gloomy day, but the leaves were turning, and the color was glorious adjacent. Petey and I enjoyed the ride had a very sweet, very meaningful conversation.
That enforced togetherness is such a wonderful catalyst to talk. Even now, it’s where The Kid and I have our very best chats. Well, not right now; The Kid, on immunosuppressants for rheumatoid arthritis, is self-isolating. It’s been seven months since we went for a coffee together, or even shared a hug.
As the years go by, our very first car ride seems ever more recent. Sometimes it feels like only days ago.
Imagine it: A young couple with a brand-new human. Petey and I spent the ride home in abject terror. By the time we pulled into the driveway, I was ready to beg my husband to turn the car around and throw ourselves upon the mercy of the Duke maternity ward.
Instead, we screwed our courage to the sticking place and went into the house and became parents.
The first clearly enunciated word The Kid ever uttered that wasn’t “Mama” or “Dada” happened in the car. Our child was teetering on the edge between baby and toddler, and the Matthews Family Band was going out to dinner and discussing what we felt like eating.
All of a sudden a little voice piped up from the back seat, “Cheeseburger!”. That night, we dined on cheeseburgers almost as big as our heads.
A few months later The almost two-year-old Kid and I were in the car together. The radio was on, and music was playing, as it almost always is and I was singing along.
Over my voice and the infinitely better voices of the professionals, I heard the voice of my child, in the back seat, yell.
“Rock and roll, baby!”
I laughed so hard I had to pull the car over.
I grew up watching afternoon soap operas with my mom. It was a daily dose of familiarity and stability in our nomadic military life.
So after The Kid came along, I kept watching. Many times I would watch my soaps while nursing my infant. Sometimes, I would have a sandwich and we’d do lunch together.
As the baby grew into toddler and then preschooler, I continued to watch, with The Kid playing close at hand. One night we were in the car and our little one was in the car seat in the back, playing with a Barbie and Ken.
I wasn’t paying attention at first. Then I heard the names of two characters from As The World Turns. As I continued to listen, The Kid recited the dialog from a scene in the show, almost word perfect.
From that night on, I recorded the shows and watched after putting The Kid to bed.
Which brings me back to the drive Petey and I took.
After the scenic drive, we finally arrived at the Scrap Exchange at about 4:10.
The shop closes daily at 4.
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