You say spring break, I say "Detroit."
That's right. Maybe your kids pipe up surf trip to Hawaii. But we did that last year. Twice. And this year, this Mom has had no time to travel plan. [Don't even ask about summer camp or I will shoot you the stink eye.]
So my husband can't get away from work this break, but these days with the homework load of sixth graders, my entire household needs a vacation from it. Suffice it to say I would go anywhere, and would have a better time.
Enter the mother-son trip to De-troit, home of high unemployment and low expectations.
But when your kid's first concert is Jay-Z and Kanye West, on a weeknight, and along the way you took him to his first Hooters (long story) you are already on the road less traveled. Here we go here we go now.
I actually like Detroit, and every trip there has been a pleasant surprise and full of wonderful memories. Three of four trips involved unlikely romance, my favorite en route to future in-laws, even 2 whirlwind reporting business trips (about a married priest and Lincoln-Mercury moving its design team to Irvine). I spent time in the 'burbs but mostly I was right in the city.
When I threw down with some last-minute ideas for travel, the first idea from the younger one was Fiji, then New York City. But the great trips are reserved for the whole family. After that, when you are unburdened by The Trip, and settling for what you can pull off on short-notice, it frees you up. The third idea was Detroit.
"It's where Eminem grew up," said the youngest family member fan. Huh.
--There is probably not a stampede of air passengers flying there.
-- Ditto for a family-friendly hotel with a swimming pool.
--With a kid, 4 days would feel just right but not leave you wistful for all you missed.
--It would truly be the kid's spring break trip, pure and rare.
So I'm thinking that his interest in Eminem and his rap will naturally drive his interest in the planning I am having him do. Googling airfares, and hotels, bio stuff on Eminem: The Early Years.
He will make the reservations (with supervision), research 3 Eminem places to visit, one excellent place to take his mother that he knows I would love, and probably launch his music video career. We checked out "Eight Mile" and aside from zooming through a few parts, thought it was a great story of someone failing but finding a way to what they wanted to be, ugliness being a part of it.
So much for the pristine beaches and pristine destination, the implied perfection that is never possible for a vacation that ever took you somewhere. The best stories about our Molokai trip were the grouchy veterinarian who nonetheless helped us to our house in blackness and handed us a bag with a frozen pizza, beer and a papaya, and the gut-check ferry ride from Maui. Oh wait, also the owners, New Age ministers with a cat we were required to deworm that week. Yes, the guest book read like a patient's daily medical chart.
That week in Molokai, and nobody from Maui could believe we were going 7 whole days there due to its lack of any nightlife or charters, activities around which to structure days, was what travel should be. Opening your eyes, breathing in beauty, yes, but crying at least once about something unknown and bleak, feeling grateful for what you have back home.
(Our rental car had no hubcaps and we called it the Cheech and Chong mobile which meant otherwise distant locals waved gayly as they passed us on the road. Every time we walked up to it we burst out laughing. It was billed as the best of the fleet.)
In Molokai, we had watched each night as 3 guys pulled up alongside our reef-front house, hopped on boards and rowed or paddled out to fish, then returned to their truck to drink a beer and head home. It was how people lived there, not a cocoon resort. The Father Damian mule ride into the leper colony was harrowing, and I did it alone, in the rain, and it is like the Grand Canyon in its stark huge beauty. The knowledge that babies and children were torn from the arms of parents and shipped off to never be seen by them, that an outpost of 40 remaining people had four churches and three bars, and choruses and sports teams, that an actual civilian seeking to atone his wild life instead sacrificed it for the plagued people who needed him, changed my life.
So given my view of a leper colony making a memorable vacation, Detroit isn't a big stretch. Given my family's random adventures (the inside of the Wienermobile, a giant frisky Reese's Cup that tried to take my Coke in Chicago, to name a few), Detroit just might be a caper. If history holds true, we may also meet new and enduring friends, and sloth in front of cable TV for a good hour a day.
At minimum, we will be together. And since the beginning, this youngest family member has been a world traveler and loved it. (One of my favorite photos of him is at age 3, in his jams, running through Honolulu Airport pulling a Thomas the Train roll-aboard).
Often the best conversations are started from the backseat of the car, on the road, a bubble of safe, suspended time out, or while waiting for takeoff, which he has not only never feared, but viewed as the start of something big.
This marks the start of a new blog, Momanista, about big stuff and mostly the little daily stuff that stacks up to mean something in the passage of parenting time. I hope you'll join me, help me, share your own stories with me.