I don’t always mean to, but I open my my mouth and *good natured* trash talk comes out when it comes to Texas and Texans (even though I’m descended from Texans so I really should be nicer to my grandparents/great grandparents). But after spending a week there on vacation I’m loathe to admit Texas really is legit and their pride is not too terribly misplaced.
But pretend I didn’t just type that…
It all started with Jim...or maybe Kevin (I’m not sure, but testosterone was definitely involved since no female thinks traveling across the country or hosting a big family is “vacation”). I had no room to talk though since my summer was a magical unicorn of ease and fun with the two older kids in Ohio and an array of friends visiting, so if the powers that be wanted to conjoin two families in 106 degree Texas August for a week of seven little boys, one princess and an imminently due pregnant lady well then… there was nothing to do but load up the car and make it happen.
Trepidations aside, I highly recommend it (although I wasn’t on the hosting side, so maybe you shouldn’t ask me). I think every voter should be required to drive across the country. There is nothing that gives more perspective than potato chips, red bull and an audio book at 85 mph as you speed through an Arizona desert and imagine wagon ruts and lizard flesh roasting over a fire of oxen dung. Seriously.
I know fancy credit cards with their flight points for shiny cylinder things that hurtle through the sky are the in-style way of traveling in the 21st century, but really I think I prefer going in a car. Flying is stressful with kids. Besides the offering up your firstborn to pay for it, and trying to smuggle your skinny toddler in with a fake birth certificate as a “lap child” (I kid, I kid), you spend a tremendous amount of time a) getting ready to get to the airport on time b) getting to the airport four hours early for fear the regular two isn’t enough when you have to account for a child possibly smuggling in a weapon or setting off an alarm c) watching your children lick every international germ off of every square inch of the airport as you wait an extra few hours for your delayed flight d) the flight itself where you’re busy bribing your seatmates with alcohol and ear plugs. When all's said and done, you have spent at least 24 hours getting to a destination that took only a few hours of actual air time.
Which is why I prefer to hurtle down the interstate in a traveling circus tent of cray cray. In the same 24 hour chunk you can a) let your children be as noisy as they want and you can play audio books at a decibel usually reserved for Grateful Dead concerts. b) throwing food and toys at your fellow seatmates is not only allowed but encouraged for feeding an entertainment purposes. c) you have ample opportunities to be the pilot which means someone else has to deal with the unruly passengers. d) The United States really is beautiful.
As a side note: I have perfected the “don’t-arrive-sick-at-your-destination” game. Don’t let anyone use the restroom. Ever. I’ll admit this plan works better when you have only penises in the car, but I’m sure it can be modified to work with girls too. My hypothesis is this: Your immune system works best against local germs...the ones within a biological being’s biome. When you leave the evolutionary safety of your environment you expose yourself to all sorts of gas station viruses your body has no defense against. Everyone knows it is structurally impossible to keep small children from touching things which is how you arrive at your destination with a lineup of small petri dishes growing all kinds of interesting germs. I prefer the canine way of watering rocks and bushes at deserted but strategic intervals. No one comes into contact with foreign organisms and at least your start out your vacation in good health (all bets are off after that, but that’s ok because what’s a vacation with kids without at least a little puke, right?)
Texas was and is its own environmental biome of bigness, beauty and toughness...dampened only slightly over the years by obesity and air conditioning (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). To the rest of the world the United States may seem like one country, but Texas is its own country within a country (despite all of the Californians moving to Dallas...again, sorry!). But I’m a bit extra fond of the place because of the people who live there.
Also, I think I’ve eaten more beef in the last week than I have in the last three months together.