The journey took two days, for a total of twenty-tree hours. But my daughter, Cocoa Bean the Baseball Mom, planned it like a day trip to a practice or a game, as though it were four hours total, there and back. In other words, she packed one bag of chips and two bottles of water. I guess the second bottle was for her mother, Grammy. We were two hours north of home when I discovered this. Naturally I stopped for more supplies. I was the driver.
For future reference, here’s a list of provisions everyone should bring on a long trip: A cooler with sticks of cheese and sausage, bottles of water and cans of tea; a box of Triscuits and a big bag of Corn Nuts; a roll of paper towels, a box of sneezing tissue, and a package of sanitary wipes; flashlights, umbrellas, and lots of real maps; Lysol for gas station bathrooms and motel showers; sleeping bags with inflatable mattresses to keep from sleeping on motel beds; medical kit with bandages and ointments, and an accident kit with flares and reflective triangles; and for the overall traumatically tedious trip, bring books on CD.
Also, you might want to designate one person as navigator. Otherwise, at a critical turn, you’ll have two people telling you conflicting information based on their phones’ GPS. In fact, I recommend taking the other person’s phone away until you arrive at your destination. That slapstick happened to me several times, there and back, and my left hand still cramps from all the panicked gripping of the steering wheel.
We travelled halfway across the continent to attend my grandson’s graduation from Air Force basic. Oh, there were maddening stretches of time, waiting for the last run of physical training, and then waiting for the coin ceremony. A Master Sergeant got on the microphone and decided to entertain us with whimsical anecdotes, and I was reminded of the annoying host aboard the boat at Disney World’s water safari, or whatever that’s called, who wouldn’t shut up and let me enjoy the view of mechanical hippos and whatnot. We were all there to participate in the accomplishments of our kids and grandkids and even great-grandkids, so please do not try to distract us with NCO humor.
And during all that waiting, the cold concrete seats of that gigantic coliseum bruised my butt and sucked the heat right from the very marrow of my derrière bones. (Put emergency cushions on the list of supplies for any future attendance of a similar kind.) But it was all worth it. Grammy was red-eyed with tears, and I was choking with pride, but mainly I got goosebumps when Maestro was coined. (That’s the term they used for when each basic trainee is presented with an actual coin that signifies he or she has been accepted by the Air Force and will be present and accounted for during the official ceremony the next day. It’s tradition.) I don’t often get goosebumps, but I had killer goosebumps then, prickling up my arms and down my legs, and even the back of my neck, where I never prickle.
The day after we got home, I looked at pictures his mother sent me, and when I came across the one of him receiving his coin, I broke out in goosebumps again, and because I was back in Grammy’s chilly 72 degree AC and so already goosebumpily, I almost caught a cold from it.
This week is the one-year anniversary of my grandson joining the Air Force. It’s not a big deal now, I know. But still I celebrate it in my own way, with reminiscent similarities, and a sports cream that helps the cramps in my left hand.