Sunshine State


2019 is an El Niño year.  “Not the year for the Cali road trip,” he said.  Mudslides, road closures.  Perhaps another year.  Where can we drive?  How far can you drive in a week?  

Summer 1982. Mom’s parents have a condo in New Smyrna.  We’ve never been to the sunshine state, and we aren’t going there now.  “He’s crazy and she says nothing.  He’s always been selfish, he does as he pleases.  I had a job to buy my sister’s shoes while he bought himself a new car.  And she only likes babies, that’s why she kept having them.  After age 2, they bore her.”  Mom drags her cigarette.  I cough dramatically and she rolls her eyes at me in the rear view mirror.  Love’s been a little bit hard on me.  Juice Newton is blaring on the radio.  We are somewhere in Ohio, stuck in traffic.  I whine that I’m starving.  “We get there when we get there.”  Oh please, let there be a Holidome!  Mom’s sinus headache will be worth an indoor swim in my book.  Ooh, love a rainy night.  Does Eddie Rabbit ever wear bunny ears?  Mom sighs loudly.  “He’s crazy.  I cannot vacation with those people.”  Mom got the hell out of there and got two psych degrees to make sense of them, not to be closer to them, that’s for damn sure.  “Dad dropped me off at the curb at college.  He never saw my dorm room.  Mom didn’t come along.  She had kids at home.”

“How about a road trip St. Augustine?” he asked.  #Floridaman, alligators, forts, a beach, and Spanish architecture.  Sure.  I check google maps.  It’s just about an hour from New Smyrna.  I remember a photo of my cousins there, surrounded by seagulls.  It had pride of place on my Grandmother’s sideboard in the Poconos.  There were always more photos of them.  My brother and I were represented by school pictures.  We went to the Poconos to visit just often enough to avoid a confrontation.  My mom smoked more up there, lighting up on the back porch with her brothers.  "It’s not a vacation," she’d say.  "That’s for damn sure."

St. Augustine.  I tell my mom of our vacation plans this year.  “I’m just sad we don’t see her more like we used to when she was littler! She’s a teenager now, I know.  We miss her.  Can she spend some vacation time here?”.  My mom sighs. 

Richmond, VA, USA. Megan is a talker, not a writer, but writing happens sometimes.