Travels with Charlie (and Michael)

Travels with Charlie (and Michael)

By Janet Payne-Downs

Travels Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comHooray, we did it! Kudos to my son Michael, for rising to the occasion and driving a total of 4,000 miles.

When he ‘left his home in Friendswood…headed for the Monterey Bay’ (apologies to Otis Redding), he posted a picture of himself and his truck on Facebook captioned, “I’m coming for ya, Momma.” Precious.

He rolled up into my driveway at 1:00pm on Sunday, March 31st, tired, unshaven, and hungry. Within an hour, his dad and high school friend, Jordan, came over and began loading my car and Michael’s truck as I was frantically flinging last minute things into any old box.

We left at 9:00am on Monday, April 1st (ironic isn’t it?) but not before there were tears shed and shared with some neighbors and friends who were there to see us off.

Michael was hefting Charlie up to his carefully and thoughtfully feng-shui-ed area where he would spend the next three long, tedious days.

Travels Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comPoor Char Char! He had spent the last month watching me disassemble my studio, pack stuff up, weep openly and say my goodbyes, so when Michael put him in the back seat, Charlie totally resisted with his tail between his legs.

Off we went. This was such a life-changing event for all of us. Michael and I were both on our best behavior for the drive, so it may have been several hours before I asked him to pull over “or else”, besides which, we were hungry.

When Michael had driven up to Santa Cruz from Texas, he could easily drive five to six hours without stopping, so I knew he was mentally keeping track of how Charlie and I were impeding his otherwise speedy journey, and he confidently apprised me of that fact in El Paso.

I, on the other hand, used the age card in my defense, several times. “Really Michael? I’m seventy-two.” Sometimes it worked.

Michael heavily persuaded me to think about the possibility of crossing the Arizona border in one day. But as my blood sugar plummeted to a mere 43, and I tried my best to be whine-free, I watched my dangling ankles swell. I gently said to Michael that I could not go two more hours and he compromised. We stopped in Blythe, which is two inches from the Arizona border.

Up early the next morning, we enjoyed the stunning mountain silhouette as the sun rose behind them, which was so lovely.

As we sped down Highway 10, Michael suddenly swore, then immediately pulled over, which of course almost made me call 911.

But no need, we had just driven through a windy area and a box came loose, catapulting through the air before landing on the asphalt. We could see it waaay back on the road, and saw cars swerving around it. For a brief moment I thought we could retrieve it but I told Michael that it just wasn’t worth it and to let it go.

That was Tuesday, our longest day. We drove to just outside San Antonio and stopped for the night.

Both of our moods picked up on Wednesday, as we were eager to get to Friendswood that evening. Michael was missing his family a lot (and I get that). We argued ever so slightly that even though my elderly-ness was a factor in our journey, Michael was the one who had driven all this way, while all I was doing was leaning back agitating my scoliosis and intestines. Harrumph.

We had some sweet moments on the drive, my son and I. Talked about parenting, his growing up, some ‘things’ he did as a teenager and some ‘punishments’ I enforced when I found out. (I’m sure many of you are aware of pulling the e-brake while driving…)? I had just bought tires the day before I loaned the car to 17-year-old Michael and a friend. When I drove the car the next day, there were ‘clunking noises,’ and my car was incredibly wobbly.

I was livid, and went to the tire place to complain. They assured me that the problem was not in the installation, but instead asked me if anyone had driven the car since the tires were put on. Of course I said yes, and then the mechanic explained to me about e-braking and spinning around, often a fun thing to do by young (male) teens.

Now I was incensed. I drove to the school and made the registrar drag him out of class. When he saw me in the hall, instantly he knew he was busted. Michael ‘fessed up’ to me on our drive during the trip. About six months after this incident, he had paid me in full for them.

As we got closer to Friendswood, our collective moods were on the upswing. The first journey of my saga was coming to an end.

We rounded the corner to his street and immediately saw that Najla and Lura had put up streamers and letters saying,

“Welcome home, Emma,”

(My gramma name).

Can’t get it better than that, right?


Be sure to stay close; lots and lots more to come in the next column about dogs, kids, noise, kisses and “getting around town”.

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