You never know quite where an unfamiliar road is going to take you. A mountain top or down into the valley or maybe a little of both are always on the horizon when charting new territory. Our first vacation taught us this lesson. We had been married for just over a year and had recently found out that we were expecting our first child in the spring. It was mid-August 1997, and we had just set out as part of our first anniversary on our first camping trip. The truck was packed with the necessary gear and we were off to the Great Smoky Mountains and then on to Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Neither of us had ever been down south and I had never seen the ocean so we were pretty excited. We spent months planning our route and the stops along the way. We had ten days of freedom, our first year of marriage behind us, and the wide open road ahead…what could go wrong?
Now, you must understand, I’m not much of a talker, much more of a thinker, and I love to drive and when you put the two together you get a pretty quiet road trip…especially for a soon-to-be mom with no one else in the car to talk to. I did my best to stay with the conversation and interact but I just love to watch the countryside going by and am always looking just around the corner to see what’s out there. There is a lot of time to talk when driving from Michigan to South Carolina…and a lot to see…so needless to say I probably wasn’t as engaged in the talking as I was in the drive. When I finally did realize the depth of the conversation we were having it was too late…I couldn’t rephrase what I had said and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway; my foot was in my mouth and it didn’t taste very good.
Since the day we found out that we were expecting, most of our talking had been about baby and what kind of parents we wanted to be and how we would raise kids and this trip had become one long conversation about us and him or her. During one of my absent minded moments half way through Indiana we had started talking about priorities and what is right and wrong and larger, deeper issues concerning kids and the responsibilities of parents. I should have known to pay more attention but I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the countryside.
My wife had set up a scenario with a set of questions that changed the course of this 10 day vacation. It went something like this: If our child were out swimming and began drowning, would you dive in after them to save them? Of course, not even a question in my mind – (Oh, look at all the horses in that field…we must be getting close to Louisville…almost half way! I wonder what it’s like to swim in the ocean…) Then came part two of the question: So if our kid were drowning and I dove in to save them and I started drowning too and you could only save one of us, who would you choose? – (Ah, there’s a sign…about 35 miles to Louisville…we’ll have to stop for gas and a bite to eat…who wouldn’t save their kid?) – “Well, the kid, of course!” I blurted out as I was thinking about what to have for lunch.
For the first time since way back up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – nearly 10 hours ago – there was silence in the truck, and not the good kind. We stopped just north of Louisville for a very quiet lunch. By the time we got back on the road her tears were flowing and I was clueless.
First Vacation (enough said)….click here to read the second part!