At three o’clock, my mom rang me at the office to say she was just about ready to hit the road. I ran home to retrieve my bag overflowing with flip-flops for the warm weather in the South and cashmere for my return to the chilly North. Factoring in last minute adjustments and packing efforts, we were on the road by four o’clock.
In all honesty, the next three days were pretty boring. There’s only so much excitement you can pack into a road trip with your mother. For the sake of (a) not boring my seven loyal fans to tears and (b) avoiding a story that has “and then we” starting off every paragraph, I’m simply going to share the highlights.
On the stretch of highway linking Baltimore to Alexandria, I educated my mother about Medicare and, more importantly, didn’t threaten to kick her out of the moving car when she asked me to repeat it all. I talked. She listened. And in the end, she suggested I conduct seminars on the topic because I was so knowledgeable. I’ll take the compliment but I sure as heck am not doing seminars for lazy old retired people. If they can master Mahjong they sure as fuck can figure out Medicare.
Somewhere just south of our nation’s capital, my mother made an amendment to her previous diagnosis of Ex. In the year since he and I had parted ways, she’d done some thinking and concluded he didn’t suffer from PDD after all. He was plain old autistic. If only we were still in contact so I could relay the good news to him.
Joe left me a message on Friday afternoon but I didn’t get it until later that night as we checked into the Hilton in Durham, NC. “It’s three thirty and I’m calling to see how Thelma and Louise are doing. Call me with an update,” he said before hanging up in a fit of giggles. I relayed the message to my mother who immediately called dibs on being Louise. Yeah, well, Thelma slept with Brad Pitt so fine with me, bee-atch.
On the wretched stretch of I75 leading into Atlanta, we stopped off for lunch at the massive Wholefoods in Greenville. I wandered off to find cut up Papaya. My mom wandered off to sample the roasted honey pecans. A half hour later, my phone rang.
“Where are you?” my mom asked in between munches of something crunchy.
“At the salad bar. Beyond the wine racks. Where are you?”
“Cheese. Can you believe this place? Seriously. I already ate a meal’s worth of samples. Oh, I see you. Here I come. Wait, I need to try this Camembert.”
Somewhere between Atlanta and the Florida border, my glasses broke. The screw on the right arm came undone. As I struggled to get it back in, my hand slipped and the teeny tiny screw disappeared forever. This wouldn’t have been an issue except I need my glasses to drive and my contacts were buried in the trunk. When we stopped to buy gas, I ran into the mini mart and bought two watermelon Blow Pops and one eyeglass repair kit. I fixed my glasses, unwrapped a lollipop and we got back on the highway. Bored and unable to complete more than four clues of the Sunday NYTimes Crossword, I decided to use my regained vision to entertain us by reading aloud the billboards lining the roadway. A lot of them talked about how Jesus forgives / loves / heals you. Figuring he’d forgive me, I seductively licked my Blow Pop as we sped past each and every eighteen wheeler. Thanks, Jesus!
We pulled into the garage in Sarasota just as the sun was setting. I unpacked the stuff from the car while my mom worked to put away everything we’d transported. There were paintings and knickknacks and books. There was wine and clothes and shoes. With the car empty and our stomachs growling, we washed up and headed back out to retrieve something to eat.
“I can’t thank you enough for helping me drive down here, PJ,” my mom said in between bites of her salad. "I couldn't have done it without you."
“No problem, Louise. No problem at all,” I replied before popping some buttered bread in my mouth.