When I heard ‘road trip’ come out of my mother’s mouth, I froze, knowing that those particular words would become a synonym for the word ‘disaster’ in my own personal dictionary. It was last minute and totally spontaneous. We gathered some snacks, filled the ice chest and after about a fifteen minute packing session, we were on our way to San Antonio.
Now ordinarily, that would have been fine, but this time little Andrew was coming with us. Do not get me wrong, my little brother is the apple of my eye. Since he was born seven years ago, he’s been the star of our family. He is the youngest of four, with three older sisters. Because he’s our little guy and because we’ve spoiled him so much, he gets what he wants.
The last couple of times we’ve done the road trip thing, Andrew stayed behind because he had soccer. Mimi and Gran never have minded watching him for the weekend. But this was different. School had just ended, soccer had not started up yet and everyone was eager for a chance to get away for the weekend. We needed a chance to relax, a chance to spend some time together — scratch that, just a chance to relax.
Right after we started on our estimated four hour journey, the family realized that four hours was pushing it. After three pit stops just in our home town, Dallas, we kind of accepted the fact that this was going to take longer than anticipated. But in the meanwhile, we played a game of I Spy, where Andrew would never give in to what exactly he was looking at and the whole family would be guessing random objects that were red and never getting a yes from my brother.
Then, we started with the latest Hannah Montana CD whose lyrics are drilled in to my brother’s head by our other sister Alyssa. Daddy tried playing the quiet game, but I’m positive that it lasted about two point five seconds. I quietly tuned them out and opened up my Sudoku book, hoping that Andrew’s newly created paper airplane wouldn’t hit me in the face.
But it did and I have a scratch to prove it. As if a scratch were not enough, I ended that particular day with something worse than just a scratch. It was pure annoyance. On hour three of our drive, not even remotely close to the half way mark, when Andrew and daddy decided to take a stop and visit the drive-thru Zoo off of the highway.
I couldn’t believe it. First of all, my whole family knew that the only animal I liked was our six pound yorkie. They knew that I was aggravated and frustrated. Nevertheless, Olivia’s feelings and desires were chucked out the window and fed to the animals just like Andrew’s left over McDonald’s hamburger.
This drive-thru Zoo was fascinating. Not an ‘in awe’ fascinating, but fascinating in the sense that I could not believe someone came up with such a stupid idea. With every move of our white Suburban, I felt threatened by the ostrich or zebra that poked its big nose into my window. Not only that, but Andrew used this zoo as an excuse to make every animal sound possible, pulling more of the animal’s attention our way. We finally left.
Seven and a half hours later, we arrived at our destination. It was a Friday night and I felt starved. Those animals weakened my appetite when my family stopped about an hour before so when we got to my Aunt Karla’s house, I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days. After raiding the refrigerator, I felt content for the first time since leaving Dallas. Who says food can’t make you happy?
I overheard conversation in the living room so I made my way to that direction. My Uncle Pete asked my brother about a little book he was making in the car. He asked for little Andrew to make him another book for himself. What I heard changed my definition of ‘road trip.’ Andrew looked at our Uncle Pete and said, ‘This book I made for Livie and for her a thousand times over.’ Suddenly, the previously titled disaster was erased from my mind as I smiled at my brother and thought of his unwavering loyalty and love for me and my family.
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