Every few months or so, I try to coerce my husband into going RVing. Back when we spent hours together alone without cutting other people’s meat or fetching sippy cups of apple juice, we used to watch RV shows on Sunday nights.
The shows usually consist of older wealthy men with rather young and botoxed wives, who often decorate the RVs themselves. Everything is very shiny and in muted, pastel type colors, like the inside of Foxwoods. Sometimes these kinds of couples also shared the insides of their boats, too.
“You can rent them with baby seats.”
“Yeah. I really don’t like driving that much.”
“We can pick a theme. See everything in the country that relates to that theme. Like Frank Lloyd Wright. Wouldn’t that be cool? To see everything related to Frank Lloyd Wright?”
Sometimes he will half agree to it, especially if we were to travel on back roads that do not have a lot of traffic.
“Like this would be okay,” he said recently as we drove past Walden Pond.
But we both worry a lot about the Klan, so back roads are out. It sounds funny, but we did once get invited to a private party when we were playing pool with a guy in a bar in Kentucky when I had a play at Humana. And then there was the time our GPS took us—mysteriously, since we were going a straight shot to Manhattan from Medford—into the wilds of Connecticut, which, I learned from going to school there, has a rather high level of Klan activity. I’m talking dirt road, in the dark, with our race mixing family inside our Toyota, with us wondering two things: why did our GPS fuck us over like this and when was the guy with the machete going to come and chop us up?
I don’t think the Klan uses machetes, but I know it hung out in Connecticut in the 1990s, when they used to demonstrate sometimes at the supermarket during graduations and parents weekends. Or so went the myth and the reason one guy I met during undergrad insisted he needed to walk around with something akin to a prison shiv in his sock. “I’m ten times safer in New York City than I am in Middletown! I wouldn’t walk around here without it!”
I guess RVing speaks to the American in me that yearns for that perfect family vacation. The problem with trying to capture the perfect family vacation as an adult is that you, as an adult, are in charge. Of the driving, the hotels, the food, and any shivs needed. And for most parents, being in charge of a trip kinda sucks. It’s the packing and the laundry before the packing and the yelling from the back seat and the dropped snacks on the floor and the nasty rest stops that only serve McDonalds. Or worse, Roy Rogers, which is just disgusting.
But still I dream:
“I wouldn’t say we should get a Tear Drop*.
But at least something big enough to bring my mother.
If not Frank Lloyd Wright then maybe stuff that deals with baseball?”
Nada. Not a bite.
Looking back I guess, by classic American standards, our vacations were a little bit lame. There was camping, but not the forge out your own campsite kind, the kind where there is an outhouse somewhere nearby and the place to build your campfire is the place where hundreds of other people who paid for the campsite before you put their campfire. There was the time we were warned mountain lions had been attacking campsites, which is kinda wild westy, but probably should have been a sign to go home for my parents, who were camping with us who were maybe maybe two and four at the time. But, for some reason it did not deter my parents and for some reason they kept bringing up in front of us. For the most part, though, camping was, well, pretty much like a hotel except with more dirt (horrible for me and my desire for cleanliness and great for my sister who had PICA and liked to eat sand).
There was Niagra Falls, where we went on a whim as we took my middle sister to college one summer. Stateside our tour guide was very nice, saying we would surely get back in time before restaurants closed and ensuring we’d get to know everything possible about Niagra Falls. On the Maple Leaf side that guy revealed his true cheesy self, although I guess the tip off was the very cheesy limo bus he was manning. He refused to answer any of our historical questions and instead directed us to listen to the piped in recording overhead. Which was not very historical at all. What really ruined the relationship was that he let the rest of the tour decide if we stayed in Canada for fireworks or not, while the Greenidgegirls’ stomachs rumbled in our rainbow-beam-decorated seats. You just don’t mess with our feeding time. We’re like bears.
There were countless trips to the Cape and Maine and StoryLand, and North Conway and while many of them did not have the zeal of Disneyworld or ClubMed or Aspen, looking back, they were fun enough. And substantial enough to try to build upon them in my imagination as I plan trips for my “own” family.
“I’d love to see everything Frank Lloyd Wright.”
Chirp. Chirp chirp.
“If I didn’t have to drive.”
“My mom can drive.”
“So next summer.”
“There’s a reason that show was called RVCrazee.”
Okay, so next summer it is.
*A tear drop is the kind of motor home experience that is very tiny and only has a bed and everything folds up into it. You drag it along behind your car. Which doesn’t have to be a truck, cause the “Tear Drop” is so dainty.