Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thinking About Road Trips Past and Present

Going on last weeks road trip has had me thinking about how different things are now from my youth. For instance, for my overnight trip I packed enough clothes, even some for an emergency and had my shampoo and other toiletries. My friend Tom made sure his truck was gassed up and even had his tires rotated and balanced. We brought enough money for food, a hotel room and concert t-shirts if we wanted to buy one (which I did not end up doing). All in all it was well planned out and we had an enjoyable time.

When we were in high school and college it was much different. Our first concern was that the concert tickets were paid for and then that we had money for a t-shirt. Not purchasing a shirt was not an option, it was a requirement. Everything else was secondary. There were times where we didn't even check to see if we had a spare tire much less if it had enough air in it. If we didn't drive back after the show we would just pull over somewhere and sleep in the car or find someplace to rest. There were no changes of clothes, no toothbrushes or shampoo weighing us down. We would eat IF we had the time, chance or money left over. Then we would arrive home tired and grimy but would have a grin on our faces whenever someone would see out concert t-shirt or when we would brag to other friends about having gone to see the show.

Back then we didn't have many concerns or serious worries. If there was something we wanted to do and we could make it happen on a whim then we generally did it. Hell, Tom was sneaking off to see shows that were several hours away all of the time even after his father told him he couldn't go. No, these were simpler times when we didn't have serious jobs or families to worry about and our entire lives were ahead of us. My only regret is that I didn't take more advantage of the situation than I did.

Now we have those families and those serious jobs where we have to plan ahead and ask for days off and make arrangements for someone to watch our kids. We have to consider if it puts too much stress on our spouses and hope that we can put aside the thoughts about work piling up while we are away reliving our youth. This trip took a lot of effort on my part just to see if it was possible that I could go. The day before we left I had to cut the grass, put away clean dishes and wash dirty ones and do several loads of laundry all while taking care of my son. Then I had to go to work and put up with the usual stuff there. But I remember a time back then when Tom showed up at my summer job at noon to ask me if I could get off right then so that we could go see Journey in Oklahoma City. My dad wasn't very pleased that I left work just to go see a concert but as I pointed out to him, it was just a summer job and I wasn't going to be doing it forever. Now was the time, the chance to go see a show with friends. To goof off and have a laugh. To just enjoy life. There was time to be serious later, when we were older and presumably wiser.

Of course now that I am older and (maybe) wiser I realise that I no longer want to sleep in a car or stay up until 4am driving back from a show. I don't want to go without a shower or a meal. I like having a good nights sleep. I'm thankful for technology which allows us to see at a moments notice if there are any of our groups out there coming anywhere close so that we can even think about going to see them. Then we can plan our trip down to as minute a detail as we want. Back in the day the only way to find out about concerts was by listening to the radio and then asking around for directions to the venue. It was always an adventure just to get to the show on time and then find our way home. It was a lucky time if we didn't have any classes the next day and could sleep in.

As I slide closer to middle age (did I just shudder?) I'm actually glad that I want my creature comforts and I don't have to do things like camp out for tickets. I'm glad I have my wife and child and all of the responsibilities and worries that come with the territory. I'm happy to have a job with benefits that allows me the time to feed my inner child. Because when it comes down to it all of the past has made me who I am today. All of the good and not so good times, the trips, the time hanging out doing next to nothing, just enjoying the moment helped mould me into the semi-sane person that I am today. And I wouldn't trade a moment of it for anything in the world. Unless of course it was to get backstage and then all bets are off.

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