On the road Mama Jean spanked us real good at the card table and pulled quilts from childhoods past out of a cedar chest for today's children to dream on now and remember later.
We lost a copy of East Of Eden somewhere around Denver and im still pretty sore about that.
In the car rides that all blur together now we experienced the joy and communal gift of teenage flatulence.
And saw gophers standing like sentinels on small hills on top of larger ones.
Later on we drove through the greasy grass where Custer and the boys stood on the wrong side of history. And via conversation and podcast the kids got to learn of the goodness and the lack thereof this country was built upon.
In a stream in Montana there were about 37 different kinds of rocks sharing space. My dad told me a joke about Geology later on that helped me understand how that came to be.
We played the ABC game at least once a day.
And while speeding toward paradise on some highway in Idaho i quietly stared forward at the road and questioned if finding meaning and being stretched and molded by one's family was a sufficient payment for pledging allegiance to them and in turn losing a piece of yourself. Convictions from deep within trump doubts born of agitation, but the wind still tries to pry my roots out of the soil every so often. Just gotta chop wood and carry water anyway.
And by dusk the winds died down and I got to feeling alright again, even when we paid 4.65 for gas and crossed a state line to find it was 2.35 again.
We pulled up to a cabin in Washington and there were deer waiting in the clearing, a mountain off in the distance and a bookcase that had a lot to say. Of course Uncle Steinbeck was there waiting for me.
Braeden made a bat out of a branch and about 10 seconds after i told him it would never work he cracked one to deep left treeline.
Ethan was sick from kissing girls so he kept the couch warm and said i was king of the homeless people because i have a car.
Lyric made a nest first thing because she's inherited her mother's passion for order.
And Phoenix picked up every slug and snail she passed by.
I rolled my eyes when the girls took photographs in front of Bella's old pickup truck in Forks but after eating in the restaurant she and Edward had their first date in, i got the bug and eventually watched all 5 films with the family.
We walked down paths and up hills and under waterfalls and between coastal boulders and through forests and i wondered why my ancestors came to Texas. Probably a woman or some money involved in that migration.
And though this was different from the last 7 family vacations because Natalie and i are finally an Us, we still didn't have time or spark to do much more than sleep after the sun went down each night. Only saw the stars once. I was happy to be by her side with intent though.
I only feel got unsavory one time to speak of and now my 7 year old has heard me say fuck once and my 11 year old has heard me say it twice. The other time was when i was sleepscreaming though so i think im doing alright.
And i cant hardly remember what else now except that it always ends and a few minutes after arriving the week was over and we were packing back up.
Returning to everydays, we wound down the Oregon Coast and beauty and wonder fell prey to carsickness.
Stayed with Natalie's best friend Laurel and her perfect and real family outside of San Francisco. And in Steinbeck's home town ate fresh cherries, saw an old man taunting a dog on a chain and watched a couple that were five sheets to the wind amble down the sidewalk, bouncing off each other every few feet.
We argued over where to buy bread bowls of clam chowder at Fisherman's Wharf and i acted like a child for about 15 seconds or 5 minutes, depending on who you ask.
All was well again though when i introduced the family to my Erica in LA, whose body continues to fail her but whose being is full of secrets gathered over 94 years.
From there we swam at Venice Beach where i opened my phone to find out i'd be coming home from vacation poor again.
We stayed cool in the southwest heat by listening to Leon Bridges' Coming Home... again.
And it all just came and went- in rolling states of wanting, delirium, momentary happiness, sing alongs, pettiness and everything else that happens where two or more are gathered.
It all just came and went.