Claire is a planner. She found out on Christmas Day that we would be going to Disney in March. She immediately got out her suitcase and had that baby packed down to the toothbrush in ten minutes. We unpacked her pajamas every night at bedtime for three months. Nothing puts that girl into high gear like a road trip.
She is excited today because we are headed to Atlanta. Claire packs her clothes. She packs our snacks. She packs our books and buckles her younger brother in the car. They wait while the rest of us gather our stuff together and haul it out to the Suburban.
We pull out of our driveway, turn left onto the highway and drive five minutes. Five minutes!
"Mom. Mom. Has it been an hour yet?"
"Claire! You can practically see the house!"
"Is it time for lunch?" The kid is eternally hungry.
"Claire! We just ate lunch five minutes ago."
"Can I have some juice?"
"Let's save it for a little while because if you have juice we'll have to stop to use the bathroom."
We drive along two lane country roads. Cotton fields and corn fields stretch out on either side of us. Roosters scratch for insects along the side of the road. Armadillos lie belly up. We see huge gardens and little traffic.
Stuart gets stuck behind a slow car. "Driving to Atlanta in the blue-haired lane! We'll be there in about eight hours if I can't pass this woman." The two lane road switches to three periodically and Stuart edges by the tiny woman. We look down and see her peering through her steering wheel.
Claire continues the commentary from the way back. "Why are we going from side to side?... Papa! Make the road stop bumping!... Are we going the right way?... Mom! Mom! I have a thread on me!"
Three lanes widen to four. Purple and red and yellow wildflowers fill the median. Cars fill the lanes. We drive in the fast lane and look into the windows of the slower cars. We pass a car with two people wedged into the front seat. The back seat is stuffed with all that they own. Paul glances over, "They packed that car with a plunger!"
We see many moving vans with cars hooked to their bumpers. My mind takes a detour from our destination for a moment to wonder at how our roots seem to be more attached to a U-Haul than they do to solid ground. We wander from place to place in this country like nomads in search of a more promising life.
I snap back to reality and find our Suburban surrounded on all sides by tractor trailers. The little girls cry from the way back, "Papa! Papa! Pull over quick!" My heart races and my head swivels around to see what the emergency is.
"We need to let Creative and Playful out!"
"Who are Creative and Playful?!"
Turns out they are two flies who climbed into the car with the children at the last reststop. The Fig Newtons stuck to the seats were irresistable. John rolls down his window and shoos them out.
Four lanes turn to eight. Expensive cars and SUVs merge onto the highway. Charlie finds a snorkle tucked in the pocket of his door. Everyone needs a snorkle in their car in case of an underwater emergency. He trumpets into it in his hillbilly voice. He sounds like Gomer or Goober. "I have to go PEE-EEE-EEES! I have to go PEE-EEE-EEES!" We search for a restroom. Up ahead, a Dunkin Donuts! We get off the highway. Turn left across three lanes of traffic. Turn left across three more lanes of traffic and hustle him into the restroom. Turns out it was a false alarm.
Back in the car. Back into traffic. Back on the highway. Claire urges Stuart on, "Go faster, Papa! Go faster!"
Charlie picks up his snorkle and bellows at the cars in the lane next to him. "Go red car! Go blue car. Go cars! Go!"
We come around a bend. The Atlanta skyline stretches out in front of us. The buildings reach greater heights as we come closer. Soon we are enveloped in the heart of the city. Adrenaline fills the car as we weave through the lanes. The kids are excited to reach our destination. Charlie's eyes take in the glamor and the bustle and the buildings crowded together. He points his snorkle at me and blares, "It's a sparkly place, Mama! It's a sparkly place!"