I grew up 900 miles from Wolfville, Nova Scotia and 1200 miles from Brantford, Kansas.
My Mother was raised on a farm in north central Kansas. Brantford isn’t a town. There isn’t a streetlight. There are two country roads, a church and a one room schoolhouse. Having grown up as the only kid in my house in Toronto, North America’s fourth largest city, everything about Kansas was magic.
Road tripping there every year was my own journey down the yellow brick road. In Kansas I had thousands of cousins, I was never alone. People listened to each other and they spoke to one another with love in their hearts. My Grandma was there to hug me and give me Werthers and talk to me in a voice with an accent I can only describe as angelic. One day I was in the general store at a nearby town and a man recognized me as my Grandfather’s granddaughter because I looked like him. I’ll let that sink in. Because. I. Looked. Like. Him.
My Dad was from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, a University town on the Bay of Fundy in the Annapolis Valley. In Wolfville in the 1940s, rich kids brought bologna sandwiches to school for lunch and poor kids brought lobster sandwiches. I never knew which my Dad ate, I like to think both.
Visiting Nova Scotia as a kid was an adventure. The air smells like salt, the people are unpredictable in the best kind of way, quick with a joke and quick to figure out how you are connected to one another. “Oh your father is from the Valley, he must have gone to school with so-and-so, he’s my cousin.” The world there felt smaller. You knew where you fit in, you knew that you belonged.
My parents and I spent 4200 miles in a car together every year. Truck stops, random motels — sometimes motels with carpeting on the walls. Our family was at our best on the road. We talked, we laughed, we fought, we were honest with each other in ways that came most naturally to us in a car with thousands of miles in front of us.
On my first solo road trip I’ve been asked by friends, gas station attendants and a pimply-faced hotel front desk kid, “Where are you going?”
They might not ever understand my answer.
“On a road trip.”