The object of this particular lengthy trip was, as I was well aware, to see my older brother off at college. My brother who has been my constant companion for all of my 16 years, was starting a new chapter in his life. I stood there with tears pouring down my face, about to give him a hug to last 5 months, I finally realized that this would have to be a new chapter in my life as well.
From a young age, my family would go on extended car trips. Because we lived in Arizona with practically all of our relatives living on the East Coast, once every few years we’d pack almost every single belonging of ours into a grey, 15-seater van and shove off. For days, sometimes weeks, we were on the road, stopping at landmarks or monuments where my parents would dig myself and my three siblings out of the over-stuffed car and head into a museum, a national park, or some other spectacular tourist-y sight. From Yellowstone to Yosemite, Mt. Rushmore to Niagra Falls, days were spent hiking and nights were spent under the stars in our tent or trailer.
Because I was a veteran of long road trips such as these, it came as no surprise to find out we were taking yet another. This one however, had a special purpose: we were to deliver my brother, books and all, to the steps of higher learning.
We started our journey with an overnight stay at a friends house in Show Low, Arizona. As we left the town the next day I reflected upon how I would feel so low once we left Thomas. When we stayed in Lubbock, Texas the next day, the conversation turned to what bunk he would prefer in his dorm room. The low bunk, he decided, would be his first choice. We spent the next night in Merriam, Kansas and I realized that even though I would be Thomas-less the next few months, I would have to find a way to be merry all the same. The trip continued, with us making stops every night in different cities and states. Each night reflected the mood and conversation for the day. In Grimes Iowa, we had to wash out our car and clothes for a soda can had exploded all over the inside! Through Strongsville and Independence Ohio our mother reprimanded us for openly discussing our sorrow at his departure. She reminded us how it was a great step for him, but that he is nervous; we needed to show our strength so he could be independent in his new surroundings! We reached our destination eight days after starting from our house in Queen Creek, Arizona.
We got him settled, and, too soon, were headed back home. I was glad to be the oldest kid, and although life without my older brother would take some getting used to, I was looking forward to new opportunities and new experiences for myself. Our home state of Arizona let me know I had returned to where I belong for the next two years, until the time when my younger siblings can take the same trip to drop me off. As Charles Dickens once said “Life is made up of meetings and partings.”, and on this trip I had had enough meetings and partings for a few months, at least!
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