I love my son and I love being a parent. I want to make that very clear. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But let’s face it parents, there are certain things about life before kids that we all miss from time to time.
For me, it’s the road trip.
There are fewer things on this Earth more awesome and rewarding than when a road trip with your buddies spontaneously materializes out of thin air. It’s a rare and wonderful thing, and it takes specific circumstances such as being young, stupid, possibly unemployed and having no serious commitments whatsoever. And usually it happens a little something like this:
Four guys are sitting around on a Friday afternoon, not doing anything of consequence, just shooting the shit. One of them says something like “Dude, remember when we took that trip to Buffalo last year and we went over the border to Canada to that crazy strip club? That was awesome.”
The next 10 minutes consists of each guy recounting a different crazy story from said trip, like “Remember Smitty was passed out on the bar?” and “We got that stripper for Aaron who had an Adam’s apple” and “It was so cool when Bear mooned the toll booth worker at the US/Canada border.” Laughs are had, the nostalgia flows freely and everyone soaks in the good times.
And then it happens.
“You know, the Patriots are playing in Buffalo this weekend,” says one guy.
“Oh that’s right, I bet they’re not sold out either. We could probably get tickets,” says another.
“Hmmmm, I have Monday off from work,” says the third.
“I have a buddy who lives 5 miles from the stadium, I bet we could crash with him,” the fourth guy chimes in.
Then all four guys look at each other, excitement building quickly. Each one of them nods, smiles and races off to pack a bag. No confirmed place to stay, no tickets in hand, no regard for finances or personal work responsibility. The only thing on their minds is the next 72 hours of fun and debauchery.
But the thing I miss most about those days is the spontaneity. I’m a very in the moment, off the cuff person. Random road trips were my specialty. I loved having a crazy idea, gathering up some equally crazy friends and just taking off. There’s nothing like the freedom you feel during the first few moments in the car after starting a random road trip. The windows are down, the music is blaring, your friends are all screaming “THIS IS SO AWESOME!!” and “I CAN’T BELIEVE WE’RE DOING THIS!” You are kings of the road and the universe. Rebels. Adventurers.
That just doesn’t happen now. First of all we don’t have the money to go to the grocery store most days, nevermind a road trip some place fun. But even if we did have the funds, spontaneity and children do not mix. Gone are the days of packing a bag and taking off. Now you need to pack his bag with shirts, pants, diapers, creams, snacks, sippy cups, toys, pack & play, and everything else he’ll need. And you can’t leave right away. You need to time it so you get in the car when he’s supposed to go down for his nap. Otherwise he’ll scream like crazy and make your life hell. And then there’s the dog. You can’t take her with you and you need to line up a dog sitter that won’t be too expensive. Then there’s work, and I really just can’t afford to take the time off because I already burned a bunch of vacation days when the kid was sick last month. Not to mention the wife has work and grad school classes and wouldn’t be able to take care of everything if I randomly took a couple days off.
You get the picture. Being a parent is the most wonderful thing in the world. But make no mistake, it does come at a price. It’s a small price to pay, for sure, but sometimes I miss things like the random road trip.
Because any trips we take from here on out will not be random. In fact, quite the opposite. Everything has to be planned out to the nth degree. Hell, I plan on going to Buffalo for the next year’s Bills-Patriots game and I started preparing a year in advance. I’m the guy who never even used to think about tomorrow, and now I’m booking things 365 days in advance.
Maybe when Will’s a little older we can start up a tradition of random road trips, but until then the word “random” is simply not in my lexicon.