The Life of Bon: Billboard (8 Minute Memoir Day 3)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Billboard (8 Minute Memoir Day 3)

I am doing an eight minute memoir project that I have seen some of my favorite writers and humans doing. Join in if you want.  Sometimes my fingers and my brain need to write.  The details are here.

When I was a little girl my family took all of our family vacations to Southern California.  My mom's parents and siblings all lived in beautiful Palos Verdes.  I was vaguely aware at this time that my mom wished she lived in California too, and that maybe being away from her family made her sad.  I was also vaguely vaguely aware that this caused some tension in my parents' marriage- but ten year olds aren't too keen on observation.  Mostly what I knew is that the distance my mom suffered from her immediate family meant that I got California road trips twice a year.  I didn't realize her sacrifice at the time.

We'd always visit in the summer, and often at Christmas.  We'd stay a week at least- sometimes longer.  My dad would sometimes drop us all off, fly back home to work a couple weeks, fly back to California, and drive his bunch home.  I didn't realize his sacrifice at the time.

The drives were long- 10 to 12 hours.  We were eight children which meant no mini van, no suburban could successfully contain our troops.  Instead, we had an ugly, 15 passenger white van.

Like many families traveling in the 80s and 90s, seat belts didn't seem to be a top concern.  The van had four benches and my parents took out the front bench, replacing it instead with a large rug and a bean bag.  That way we could play games, relax, and eat on the floor.  Why not?  Someone always called the bean bag, my dad always drove, my mom never gave up her seat in shotgun.  These were our travel arrangements.

Because I was little, and one of the youngest, I always had to share a bench with one, or often two of my siblings.  This seemed unfair to me.  In a van so big, why did I still have to sit so close to Mary?

We always left early in the morning- in the 5 o'clock hour.  I would wake up when we stopped for breakfast at McDonald's in St. George.  We're almost out of Utah!  Hitting Las Vegas meant we were halfway.

"Anyone want to play the alphabet game?  Who wants to play the alphabet game?"  Mary was relentless.  All my siblings were older (three years older than me and seven years old than Mary) and were obviously bored by us- the two little girls.  They put on their discmans and took naps and I would be left the lone soldier to reluctantly play the alphabet game with Mary.

The rules were simple.  Start with A.  Go through the alphabet.  Find every letter of the alphabet on a sign or billboard.

We scanned the billboards.  On most of the road from Utah to California the billboard pickings are slim.  There are long, empty stretches of vast desert.  Not a lot to see.  The alphabet game could be excruciatingly long and boring.   I figured out the way to win, though.  The trick was to get enough letters in Nevada that when we hit California I was at least to X.  Then all we had to do was pass the exit for Zzyzx and the victory was mine.

Sorry, Mary.

No comments:

Post a Comment