Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coming and Going

"Front by the window, coming and going!"

That was my war cry whenever we were going to travel as a family by car. Six kids (I'm the firstborn, perfectionist, bossy one) jammed into the old Ford Fairlane. Each one of us prone to motion sickness. As the eldest, I yelled first dibs for prime seating. I added "coming and going" after one of the sibs (probably second in line, competitive Natalie) aced me out of the window seat on one of our trips home from Baba's house.

I liked that seat, even if we learned later that the front seat passenger sat in the Death Seat. I could see where we were going, didn't need to look sideways, but straight ahead and I could roll the window up and down as needed for fresh air. It was also the quickest ejection position once the car had stopped. Fling open the door, dive out and hurl into the ditch.

Nat usually occupied the front center next to Dad, the only licensed driver in the family. Mom sat in the long back bench seat with Sandy, Mike, Bunny and John.  I don't remember who had to sit on the hump. I'm thinking that John Boy was probably just a baby so he was in Mom's lap. Bunny was a tiny little girl and just two years older than John. Sandy and Mike were probably squished, but who cares. I was front by the window!

Mom tried her best to be sure we were ready for the long 120 mile drive from Missoula to Butte. She had several milk cartons readied as car sick receptacles. Perhaps the smell of sour milk wasn't the best for our sensitive systems. Mom also dosed us with Dramamine. I'm pretty sure I was nauseated from the yellow, syrupy yuck. Either that or the seat belt. It squeezed my tummy. Sandy never even made it out of town. Dad would stop at the gas station to fill up and she'd get sick from the gas fumes.

Later, when we had the Ford station wagon, we had more room to spread out and open our own windows. I even learned to drive in that land yacht and earned my driver's license after successfully parallel parking the sucker downtown in front of the Mercantile.  I could park it, drive through snow, but still needed to learn how to rate my speed going around coroners* on gravel roads. That's a whole other story.

Dad veered away from Fords and bought a gigantic, Chrysler panel station wagon. It had three seats. The poor, pathetic souls that sat in the way, way back didn't stand a chance. The seat faced backwards, over the tailpipe. Yeah, good idea. Dueling throw ups. No wonder Mike was a champion car vomiter.

I still get woozie in the car. But as an adult, I've learned how to deal with it. I can't sleep in the car. I drool. I can't read or draw. That would be disastrous. So I sit and watch the view of the world going by. Maybe listen to a book on tape. I would prefer to drive, but Kevin won't give up the steering wheel. He'd have to deal with the kids if he did that.  That's OK. I'm keeping track. He owes me...

*I mean 'corners' but seems appropriate to leave it as is

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