by Nancy Geiger
Brittany, John and I had a good chance to bond over Thanksgiving weekend. We drove to my family’s in Chicago. This is the first time we’ve ever made the drive. In the past we’ve always flown, but we thought it made sense to pick Brittany up at school on the way and drop her off on the way back. And since friends who had made the trip before had told us it was only a 12-hour drive we thought it would be a great chance for uninterrupted family time.
12 hours is a long time! Especially since it didn’t include the side trip we made from I-40 to Cullowhee, which added another hour and a half to the trip. And our family time didn’t end up being uninterrupted.
Our bonding took place between Brittany’s phone calls with friends. After a while we joked that she sounded like a switchboard operator: “Hold please, I have another call coming in.” It was sort of fun to listen in. Two of her friends would call every 10 to 15 minutes, so we had a running commentary of how their day was going. But, the conversation between the 3 of us in between calls was pretty much Brittany repeating the conversations with her friends, which we had pretty much heard all of anyway.
The drive still didn’t go fast and we were sort of dreading the return trip. Especially since we were staying in Chicago long enough Sunday for a baby shower for my niece and wouldn’t leave there until 2 p.m. (You do the math!)
We were really surprised to get a call from a friend of Brittany’s that Saturday offering to pick her up at exit 31 off of I-40 Sunday night so John and I could save that extra hour and a half! (Actually the call didn’t surprise us – he was one who had been calling her every 15 minutes all weekend long, but the offer and just the fact that he thought of it was a surprise! A pleasant surprise!) We were really appreciative, especially as it got later and later Sunday. First we were delayed getting out of Illinois because of two tollbooths that had traffic backed up and then slowed down again in Kentucky by seven speed traps!
Her friend remained chipper with every call that moved our 12:15 ETA back until eventually it ended up at 1:45 a.m. After a while he began watching our progress on the internet letting us know where we were as Brittany called out exit numbers and mile markers. He told her when we got to Gatlinburg he would leave to meet us. I don’t know how he figured it out so well, but it was perfect: he arrived at our meeting spot just minutes before us!
As it got later and later we had joked about just doing a rolling stop and tossing Brittany and her stuff out the window, but she had so much stuff we figured it would take several passes-bys to get it all out.
So we stopped, lightened our load, thanked our white knight profusely and drove the last 2 hours in comfortable silence back to our little empty nest; grateful that we had had time together and grateful that she loves school and her friends.
Nancy Geiger and her husband are Baby Boomer empty nesters with their daughter Brittany (their only child) now a junior at college. When she left home Nancy started writing a monthly column for their local weekly paper about parenting a college student long distance. After 17 years as a travel agent for American Express, Nancy decided to commit herself to freelance writing and starting an online store, 2 blogs, a website and LOTS of volunteering! She even just published a cookbook called A Brides Cookbook or surviving the First Year. http://abridescookbook.com
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