“You’re crazy,” my mom said with half-hearted seriousness.
“I get it from you,” I replied with a sincere smile, so she knew my wacky ways were due to our close relationship. She’s my best friend, although I would never admit that to her face.
“What am I going to do with you?” she answered looking back at the road ahead still full of the many miles that would take us to Youngstown, Ohio. I was interviewing for a copy editing internship at the Vindicator and we decided that a mother-daughter road trip was better than a flight. Especially with the economy where it’s at. It would take us more than 10 hours and we left at around 5p.m. I previously drove an additional three hours from school, so she was at the wheel leaving me free to bother her for 10 long hours.
“I have to pee,” I whined.
“That sucks,” she replied. We were just passing through the beautiful downtown St. Louis where the arch reached around us and signaled that we would be welcome back on our return.
She didn’t stop so I could pee until we were well into Illinois. Probably to antagonize me, naturally.
“Do you want this?” She pointed to a tiny magical wand that would grow ten times its size in water.
“Do you even have to ask?” I replied. We bought it.
The rest of the ride was a sea of blurs. We repeated a good CD, made at least 2 wrong turns that turned into fabulous adventures and she eventually got tired in the darkness a little over an hour from our destination.
“What does it take to get a hotel room at 1a.m.?” She asked through tired eyes and an exhausted voice. Her hands loosely gripped the steering wheel as we trudged down the highway in search of more lit up hotel signs.
Vacancy? We pulled into the parking lot.
“I don’t want to die tonight, Mom.” I joked quietly as I looked around the parking lot at timeless vehicles, dark alleys and rusted railings.
“Yeah, but do you want to sleep?” she fussed back, almost smiling.
I can do without if it means I can go without fear of cockroaches in my bed or creeper neighbors peering through the windows.
“Eh.” I replied. I would suffer so she could sleep, though, of course. She got a room and we drove around to the door of our room.
“The front desk woman said this is a safe place and not to worry,” she almost sighed as she put the car in park.
“And what made her say that, do you think? Is there a reason she should have to put us at ease?” I said as I suppressed a slight fear in my voice.
“Get out and don’t be such a wuss.” I think she was serious.
For the record, I’m not a wuss.
To my surprise, the beds were void of cockroaches, the bathroom was eerily spotless and it was almost cozy.
“Mom…?” I said, she must have known the tone.
“What now?” I could tell she was exhausted.
“Did you bring toothpaste?”
“Crap. I’ll ask the neighbors.” She was serious.
“Are you kidding!?” So was I.
“Yeah, why not?” She opened the door. Our neighbors were getting their belongings out of their car. She actually asked them and they let us borrow some.
“This better not be laced with roofies.” I sent her a joking glance and she began laughing like I was the funniest person in the world. She does that a lot. Sometimes I wish I could get rich as a stand up comic whose only audience is mothers, because she thinks I am absolutely hilarious.
With a slight smile, “Your turn. If I’m going down, you’re coming with me.” I said.
“You’re messed up,” she said while grabbing the bottle of roofie-laced toothpaste.
For the record, the toothpaste did nothing but clean my teeth. Haha. The neighbors probably threw it away thinking we had done something to it. Funny how that works.
We woke up, drove to Youngstown, checked in at our other, slightly more high class, hotel and I drove myself to the interview. It was cool working with a daily paper for, well, a day.
The drive home was just as exhilarating as the drive to Ohio. Mom grabbed two bananas and an orange from the hotel on our way out, even though we stopped for breakfast. I ended up making faces for them out of my Pull ‘N Peel Twizzlers, which, of course, made mom think I was the funniest person in the world again. The bananas were eaten much to the orange’s despair. Too bad, really. They were friends.
“I think there’s something wrong with you,” she joked, but I think she was serious.
“It’s your fault.” I smiled and put my feet on the dashboard staring out the window.
The same CD on repeat still. We should find a broader music selection next time. The arch that left us in the rear-view mirror now welcomed us back filling the windshield with beauty.
“Almost there.” I said almost in a whisper. I only was half ready to be.
“Damn.” She felt the same.