I was on pins and needles the first part of the day. My college girl, my beautiful girl whom I love more than anyone (except maybe her daddy) informed me a couple of days ago,
“I’m going to visit Tara on Tuesday. I’ll be back on Thursday.”
She’s twenty now, she certainly doesn’t have to ask permission. But my heart did a little pitter-patter at her announcement, because her cousin lives three hours away and she would have to drive through Houston to get there. My college girl had never driven in Houston before today.
Her daddy told her yesterday to run her car by Firestone to get it checked out before she hit the road. So she set her alarm early enough to be there when they opened at 7:00 am. Good thing she did, because she needed two new tires. Everything else checked out fine, she ran back to the house to gather up her things, and then it was time for her to leave.
I hugged her really tight, told her to be careful, to get all her stuff situated before she hit the road — no playing with the radio or iPhone while the car is in motion.
She laughed and promised she would be careful. I hugged her again and when she started to pull away, I said, “I’m not done yet.” God has granted that college girl an abundance of patience with this mommy, because she hugged me back and then I was done. Out the door she went.
I sat down at the table, staring at my computer screen, trying to organize my thoughts and all I could think of was my BABY on the Houston freeways.
“Forgot my sleeping bag,” she laughed, dashing through the kitchen to the closet where such things are kept. Hooray! A chance for another hug, but then I realized how ridiculous I am. I kept myself firmly planted in the chair, despite the irresistible urge to hug her again.
And then she was gone.
An hour and a half later, the phone rang and it was my girl letting me know she’d made it to the gas/convenience store on the other side of Houston. We’d agreed it was a good midway point to stop, top off the tank, grab a snack. She sounded so bubbly, so excited to be navigating her solo road trip with success.
“Gotta’ get gasoline, Mommy. Then get back on the road.”
“Okay, Jami-girl. Call me when you get there.”
About the time I should have gotten a phone call, I got a Snapchat instead. A photo of my college girl and her college cousin, with huge grins on their faces, so I knew she made it just fine.
I just checked Snapchat again. Those crazy kids! To quote my college girl,
“In a sudden turn of events, we found ourselves in Louisiana!”
1985 — It’s a hot summer day in Huntsville. The a/c in our dorm on the third floor of White Hall is not working and we’re glistening — which is a pretty way of saying we’re sweaty. I look at Karen and she looks at me, and we both say, “We’ve got to get out of here!”
Racing down to her car, we hop in and take off in no particular direction. We just drive. Somehow we end up on Highway 19 and at one point see a sign for Crockett, Texas. Neither of us has been there, so why not? We cross the Trinity River, not far from where it pours into Lake Livingston, and then continues southward toward the east Texas town where I was born. I’ve always been intrigued by proximity of things — it amuses me that I’m driving across a bridge across water that will flow within miles of the place where I was born twenty-one years before. In Trinity, I buy an IBC Root Beer, more for the old-timey looking bottle than for a irresistible desire for root beer. It tastes pretty good!
I don’t remember much more about that day, other than driving around Crockett, checking out the sights. But I do remember wind in our hair and loud, energizing music pouring from the car speakers. I remember feeling free and without obligation, even if just for the day.
I totally get how my college girl ended up in Louisiana this evening.