When I was five and my brother, Jeff, was three, we started a family tradition. My mother's parents thought it would be nice to take us to stay with them at their home in Black Mountain, North Carolina for a few weeks every summer. It was supposed to give my parents a break from the children and my grandparents quality time with the grandchildren.

My grandparents would drive up to spend time with family and friends in Massachusetts. Then they would stay with my family a few days in New York. Then, the long drive to North Carolina would begin.

The first time we did this was exciting and scary. It was quite an adventure for two small children.

My parents packed our luggage in the back of the car. They settled us in the back seat with pillows and blankets. They gave us hugs and kisses. "Oh, you better bring this bag for the kids," my father said, handing a brown, paper, grocery bag to my grandmother. She shrugged and stuck it in the car. My parents waved as the car pulled out, and we were on our way.

I should mention here that my entire family is originally from New England, and they fit the stereotype. My grandfather and my father love to drive. They know all the back roads. They are familiar with every gas station and rest area on the entire east coast. They pack the car with food, beverages, and blankets so they never have to stop. Their routes of choice are composed of windy, bumpy, isolated, back roads which they think are shortcuts, but the people crossing their legs in the backseat rarely agree.

My grandfather chose one of these shortcuts on our first trek to North Carolina. As usual, the road was winding back and forth and it was bumping up and down and we hadn't stopped for a very long time and we had gotten up very early and our stomachs were very empty and about to get emptier. But we were shy. We didn't know what to say. So we didn't. We tried to look out the window as we rounded curve after curve after curve. We held onto the side of the car as we bounced up and down, up and down the road. And then we couldn't hold back any longer.

One of us leaned forward and threw up all over Grandpa Bill's car. He pulled over to the side of the road. Luckily, he was a New Englander and he was prepared with paper towels and other cleaning supplies. We felt awful - emotionally as well physically. This was Grandpa Bill's nice, new, clean car.

They called my parents when we arrived in Black Mountain. My grandmother described the incident. "But why didn't you give them the paper bag?" my father asked. "Oh," my grandmother said, "was that what the bag was for?"

Surprisingly, this summer trek from New York to North Carolina with my grandparents became a family tradition. Unsurprisingly, an open paper bag in the back of the car with us kids became a part of this tradition (until the discovery of Dramamine).

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Lisa J. Parker's writing and creative works including poems, books, short stories, essays, movies, greeting graphics, and photographs.


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