I am currently packing and selling items as I get prepared to move out of my current place the end of April. As I was trying to figure out if I should down size even more to avoid renting a U-haul trailer, I was reminded of one of the first times that I did. The memory still induces a chuckle and an "of course he did" with my brother and I. Thought story time could provide a break in watching the US become Antarctica's twin.
In my late 20’s, and the beginning of the century (WTF!?), I was separated from my husband J/Jarrod and living in MN. My friend Melissa in CA and I were catching up on the phone and I confided that I had no idea on what to do next. Knowing that I missed the Bay Area, she told me that the apartment below her had opened up and that I should move back. Of course! I immediately went to get a hitch installed on my Subaru Forester and rented a U-Haul trailer for the move back west.
When my dad heard the news, he insisted that he would go with me, so I would not drive alone.
Oh hell to the no. My father and I were never, ever, close like that. We didn’t have a tight bond or embark on outings together besides grabbing a quick lunch here and there. I don’t really have many one on one memories with him at all to be honest, so the idea of me and dad together 24/7, for over 3 days in a car was mind boggling.
In my pre-teen years, dad sent our family on spring break to Scottsdale, and would then join us for the weekend to golf a few days at the end. He usually spent his free time at the country club golfing or socializing back then, and I was the only family member that hated golfing. We even had fights over me not wanting to play golf, and came to a settlement on me playing tennis instead. This was an ideal compromise because the court was away from the clubhouse douchbaggery, and closer to the snack bar that sold soft serve ice cream with m&m's.
My teenage years consisted of me shaving my head, being anywhere besides a suburb and hating the country club. Since my dad was on the board or maybe the VP(?) of the country club, and I was more interested in skateboarders, there was pretty much no chance we would ever bond well during those years.
In my 20's I was living between SF and MN, fully immersed in the party scenes, and my dad was remarried, doing his thing. He was doing him, I was doing me.
When dad offered to pay for hotels and gas for the road-trip, I then figured, “why not”?
The last afternoon in MN we went to pick up our trailer at the U-Haul facility. After attaching the trailer to my car, it seemed that my hitch was installed incorrectly, so when the electrical work for the trailer connected to my car’s brakes, the fuse for my brake light blew. My car would not work without a brake light for safety and would not move out of park. Since we were literally leaving early the next day, and a plane ticket to MN was already purchased for dad, we had no time to get the hitch properly fixed. Looked like I would have to pry open the floor shift cover and press down a button with a tool to release the locking mechanism until we reached CA, every single time we needed to drive. The tool needed was currently in my apartment, and there was no one that could bring it to me at the U-Haul place, they were all with me, with no working car.
This should have been a sign for something, somewhere.
Then this happened: The kind employee at the U-Haul was trying his best to help us and then told me to use his car to run back to my apartment and brought me his keys! You just can’t make this shit up.
I started up that Isuzu Amigo and the bass thumped so thick and loud from the entire back seat that held enormous speakers, I could barely keep it together on my drive back home. I felt embarrassed and bad ass at the same time, as I proceeded to pretend I was rollin' in a '64 all the way to my apartment. I would have killed for a cell phone back then to take a photo.
Upon returning to U-Haul, bass and all, I thanked that amazing employee with hugs, never ending thank you's and even wrote a letter to his manager after I moved to CA, explaining how he saved the day. People never cease to amaze me and I really hope that guy got a raise or a plaque of some sort, because he went above and beyond.
The trailer made it back to my place at 24th and Lyndale (where the infamous bicycle tossing argument took place years earlier) and my father noted the trailer looked like it wasn't attached correctly to the ball on the hitch. We each took a side to roll it backwards and as we were holding it up, it slipped out of his hands and it dropped. On my left pinky toe, breaking it.
We actually managed to pack the trailer and car full to the brim with help and were ready for take off. Johnny K, me and my black pug Clyde were off to CaliforNyAy in the a.m. for our Keeler road-trip!
Oh, did I mention that my dad didn’t plan to hold Clyde or drive the entire trip? He didn't either.
The first day of our trip I observed and confirmed that my dad did not love dogs, and is therefore not from this planet . Clyde tried to sit on my dad’s lap, and dad was NOT interested in having a dog near him and would not be partaking in holding him. Mind you, the car was smooshed to the brim with shit, and Clyde’s ONLY choices of where to sit or lay were on my lap while driving (that’s safe, rt?) or dad’s….so Clyde was on my lap the entire 1,900 +/- miles to Oakland. Of course, not a terrible thing, but not ideal for driving half way across the country with close to 30lbs of dead weight on your thighs.
That evening we stayed at a Red Roof that dad paid for (!) and as we entered our room, Clyde went batshit crazy since he had been cooped up all day in the car. He was running in circles around us a million miles an hour, while snorting and barking, as dogs do, and to be real, I wanted to as well. In order to avoid blowing up after dad asked why Clyde was acting crazy, me and Clyde immediately went out to the parking lot to run our pent-up energy out of our system while dad went to get us food and beer (!) That day was a win win for everyone since no one yelled or was murdered .
The second day’s scenery was pretty non eventful. If you have ever taken 80 towards CA from the Midwest, you know of which I speak. There is barely a turn in the road, anywhere, and pretty flat landscape. We were getting antsy in the car and had nothing to look at until we saw horses in the surrounding pastures.
“Why, hello there horky,”! said dad to every single horse, while rapidly waving and smiling from the car window, over and over and over. What the...? I had never seen my father goofy like this before and I was digging it. I honestly felt like we had something in common and it was The Weird Gene. I joined in with hork introductions to all and for the first time my father was not just a golf playing, republican, country clubber. He was a tad fucking weird and so was I.
The rest of that day, Dad was pretty chill after the horse/horky introductions, until I played Fatboy Slim’s You’ve Come A Long Way Baby. I was legitimately floored. The man that said on more than one occasion that he "loves that Anne Murray" was hand dancing with major intent, shaking his shoulders to the beat and had all sorts of funky moves. I had no idea who was inside this car with me, worlds were colliding and it was magical. We danced like our lives depended on it to that CD more than most could stomach and dad was heard saying “I really like this guy Fatboy Slim”.
Another day with no bloodshed or yelling. Pretty sure we are related at this point.
Then the 3rd and last day of driving happened.
While on an arm/leg/dog pee break during a drive through the snowing Sierra's, dad realized that in CA you can buy beer in gas stations and asked if it was legal to drink as a passenger…Say what!? If I am correct, pretty sure it’s not, but that didn’t seem to matter or bother my suburban father, who then purchased a 40oz for the road.
What in the actual fuck!? Count to 3,567,234 Molly.
Let me clear, dad never accepted invitations to drive, or offered, but I was really scared driving through mountains in the snow and wind. I had also never driven with a trailer on my car prior to this trip. My shoulders were to my ears, Clyde was in my lap and I couldn’t even demand that my dad take over the wheel because he was enjoying a frosty cold one in my car without a care in the damn world. None. Nada. Nothing.
In a weird way, maybe that was for the best? He could have easily been an overbearing dad yelling orders on how to drive and THAT would have been grounds for murder, without any doubt or pause in my mind.
We pushed through the mountains and the Bay Area traffic that day without a fight, and finally arrived at my apartment on 61st and MLK. I was so happy and relieved that I didn’t even care that the Bart was literally across the street and above my apartment or even when my father made sure to tell me that exact fact more often than none that evening at dinner.
To be quite honest, I don’t remember much after that dinner, except that dad left for a flight the very next day. While driving dad to the airport, he said “Jarrod (my ex) is lucky that I didn’t run into him, because he wouldn't have known what hit him”.
That was one of the 3 nicest things my father had ever said to me up until that point of my adult life. The other 2 being “hurt my daughter, and you’ll be in deep shit with me” to Jarrod while I went to use the restroom the first time they met and the other was telling me I looked beautiful on my wedding day.
That’s the good stuff right there. When all is said and done there honestly could have been a murder, but it would have be for me, not by me. I am more than good with that, that is a solid right there.
That road trip is honestly one of my favorite memories with my dad. I saw firsthand how I got to be “unique” and it made sense as to how I was spawn from that man. As much as we were and ARE different on so many levels, we shared our freak flags and got to celebrate that shit together, just us two. For a tiny moment, we were the same, without any doubt or misunderstanding. Just the two of us, on our own father and daughter planet.