Tag Archives: traveling

Tripping with My Ex-Boyfriend’s Daughter

Tripping with my ex-boufriend's daughter

Tripping

Does a stepparent relinquish their title, and the unspoken rights, responsibilities, support, care and concern, (often included in the character description) if the relationship ends in divorce?

And what the hell happens in a Girlfriend Mom situation… I don’t know either.

I no longer wear the sash and crown, but there are certain habits and emotional bonds that were formed during my halcyon days as the reining Girlfriend Mom, that have stayed with me nearly three years after the so-called divorce. The role will forever remain in my heart as the most unexpected, and enlightening that I have had the privaledge of playing. And I played Leper #2 in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar in theater camp.

It was because of these unique relationships, (that seem to be defined, and then redefined every few months) that I took SN (the daughter) on a road trip last Fall from Portland, Oregon to La Jolla, California for her college graduation gift.

A few family members and friends thought it was strange that I was taking a trip with my ex-boyfriend’s daughter. These were some of the same people who thought that it was weird that I still saw the kids. SN’s mother thought it was a wonderful opportunity for her daughter and thanked me. I didn’t need to be thanked because it was my absolute pleasure and joy.

I wanted to make the trip more than SN. I knew firsthand how life affirming such an experience could be. I made the same excursion when I was her age, after my college graduation. After four years in Manhattan, side-stepping dog poop on the sidewalks on my way to class, knocking into Wall Streeter’s as they hustled to the subway, I  hit the road and drove across the country over the summer.

Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to drive across America. I read Kerouac’s, On The Road, watched both Easy Rider, and Lost in America, and the idea of living moment to moment; no plans or schedule was alluring and sexy.

I imagined driving through towns with populations under a hundred. I fantasized about having to get a waitress job in a honkey tonk (even though I’d never waited tables before) because I ran out of money. Perhaps I’d get hired to wax surf boards in a shop along the California coast, even though I’d never set foot on a board. I romanticized the road because I’d been dodging crack dealers on my way to my dorm. Anything would be better than that.

I’d learn how to ride a motorcycle. I’d pick up hitchhikers bumming for lifts. They’d teach me about the world; sharing their wisdom gleaned from years living according to their chakras and not in the chokehold of societal expectations, norms and conventions. These free spirits would regale me with pearls from the backseat of my car, while chewing tobacco, and using an empty Coke bottle as their spittoon.

To be twenty-two.

I used the money that I’d saved over the years in a giant pink piggy bank that my parent’s had bought me when I was nine years old, to fund my trip.

The bank lived on the bottom shelf of my bookcase in my childhood bedroom. It was so big that I doubted that it would ever be full, but I dropped coins into the slit on its back every chance I got.

My parents told me (although it was couched as a suggestion) to wait until the pig was full before I uncorked its underbelly. They assured me that it would be more exciting and gratifying than if I withdrew money every time I wanted another Bonne Bell 7-Up Lip Smacker, which was often.

What ten-year-old girl is going to understand the concept of saving, patience and restriction? It was friggin’ Bonne Bell. Yes, I dipped into the bank on more than one occasion.

As I got older and more disciplined, it became easier to resist the urge to crack open the swine before she was up to her snout in metal and couldn’t take one more thin dime. She did taunt me, especially when my babysitting jobs dried up in the winter of ’83 but I stayed the course.

By the time I graduated college, the bank had been full for several months. I suspect that my parents dropped a few shekels in while I was away at school.

Soon after graduation, I went into my bedroom, closed the door and pulled the weighty bank off of the shelf. I plucked the stopper, emptied the contents onto my medium pile chocolate brown shag rug, and began the laborious task of rolling the coins into their respective denomination wrappers. This was long before the coin machines in local supermarkets. I rolled until I lost feeling in my fingers.

It was mind-numbing and it required a gross amount of concentration and counting. Anyone who knows me, knows that I find counting mentally exhausting.

As I sat with my legs crossed hunched over mounds of coins (as a Pilates instructor I shudder at the visual) I kept having to remind myself of how many nickels were in a two-dollar wrapper. The whole ordeal made me dizzy.

As the rolls piled high, forming miniature pyramids on my rug, my anticipation increased—How far would the money take me? Would I have to get a job bartending? 

When the wrapping was complete, I went to the bank and cashed out. If memory serves, I had over six hundred dollars in dusty and sticky pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. I found several half dollars and a handful of silver dollars. I vaguely remember getting those as birthday presents from my grandfather. At the time, I couldn’t get over the fact that a dollar could be a coin.

I also found a peso or two in the mix, which was odd because I hadn’t been to a country where the local currency was a Pesos. Dad?

I had money to make a childhood dream come true and nothing felt sweeter. I was rich!

Once I climbed behind the wheel and was on the road, I tossed my shoes into the backseat of my Honda Accord and crossed over the first of many state lines. I felt as if I’d been infused with a dose of freedom. I hadn’t done a lot of traveling up to that cross country point and I was captivated by the enormity of the country, and awed by the vastness and the quiet. It was eye opening in ways that I had only read about or seen in the movies.

I imagined my foot glued to the gas pedal, never to return to New York. I’d only driven 700 miles from home, but I was convinced that I belonged on the road, and that I would be happy wandering for the rest of my life.

To be twenty-two.

Decades later, I hoped that SN’s experience would be as thrilling as my first time was. I’d play the part of the wise hitchhiker, imparting sage advice, only without the tobacco. I was anxious to see the roads of my youth, and to be seeing them through SN’s youthful eyes.

To be continued…

I Traveled But I Never Seemed to Get Anywhere

Originally posted, August, 2011

Travel the world but not getting anywhereIt’s easy to let our daily lives consume us, and easy to lose ourselves in the process. I mean our true essence. The ‘you’ that laughs at people tripping up stairs, and the ‘you’ that dances along with Jennifer Beals, while watching Flashdance.

That was me last Thursday, at 6pm Dubai time. I find the heat intriguing and the fact that I cannot understand a good goddam thing that the Pilates studio driver says to me, quite amusing. This is who I am.

It was July 20th and I had wanted to play tourist and see Dubai. Oh, I saw Dubai all righty because I decided to take the Big Bus Tour; an air conditioned double decker, that travels around the city, hopping on and off as you see fit.

I was genuinely excited. I love tours… and buses. I think riding the bus, especially in New York, is a terrific way to see a city. And if you can get over the fact that you look like a big ol’ dork, it’s really fun.

At a cool 100 degrees (without the oppressive humidity) I decided to brave the heat and sit outside on the top deck, which was covered but still quite warm. I was going to take advantage of the view, sweaty crotch be damned.

I had my hat, sunscreen and water at the ready. Bring it on Dubai. I plugged in the headset for the running commentary and we motored.

“Islam is the official language of Dubai… Islam means voluntary submission to God.”

We drove through downtown and stopped at two malls. Malls here are landmarks and considered sights not to be missed. I took a pass. I’ve been to three malls since I arrived. I’m good.

I traveled but it never got me anywhereThe Burj Khalifa is pretty extraordinary. It cost $1.5 billion, stands at 2,717 ft, is the tallest building in the world and has the fastest elevator at 40 mph. It also has the world’s highest occupied floor at 160.

I was enjoying the hot wind whipping at my delicate face, when my legs and heiny felt as if I was sitting in a puddle. I wore shorts (bad idea- hot skin on plastic seat) I was sticking and sliding, though I didn’t care, because I was sightseeing in the Middle East!

I switched buses so I could take an hour Dhow cruise along the Dubai Creek. A client of mine said this wasn’t to be missed. Unfortunately the cruise wouldn’t depart for another hour, so the air conditioning was left off.

The boat was empty, save for an Asian mother daughter duo. I took a seat and tried to meditate myself into thinking that my elbows were not sweating.

The Asian daughter sat down right next to me. And I mean RIGHT NEXT TO ME. The friggin’ boat was empty and she choose the seat next to me?

I turned to her and said, “You have to sit right here?” Yes, it was sarcastic with a side order of bitch! But my knees were dripping and I needed room to wring out.

She said something to the effect of, “My mother and I were sitting here.” What? Her mother was sitting across from me and looked mighty comfortable; in her own row, I might add.

I picked up my bag and slid (literally) down a few seats, I muttered under my breath, “That’s okay, I’ll give us both some personal space.”

A few minutes later, the daughter asked one of the men selling beverages if he had change for 500Dhs (about $138 US) because she wanted a drink, which cost 5Dhs ($1.38 US) He did not. She asked me but I didn’t have any change either.

I immediately asked myself what I was doing. It was hot and she was thirsty and it’s $1.38. I took out 5Dhs and handed it to her. She refused but I insisted. I said, “It’s okay, just pay it forward.” I’m not sure she understood.

She bought her 7-Up (that’s only going to make you more thirsty) and I looked at her mother and then at the Pakistani beverage man and said, “See, spreading the love.” They in turn responded with what looked like, “See, crazy lady, with dripping elbows.”
I traveled but it never got me anywhere
The boat slowly filled up and we had a nice crowd. We took off down the creek, and after five minutes I thought, can this boat go any slower? I was surely going to fall asleep.

When the cruise was over, I waited outside with the other passengers, under an awning, for the Big Bus. And we waited. And we waited. And as the temperature climbed, I started to feel claustrophobic. I breathed deeply, and thought about glaciers.

In the 40 minutes that I waited, taxis came and went, and with each passing one, I asked myself why I didn’t hop in any one of them and call it a day. It was just like when I didn’t get a cab when I was in Prague, and dragged my suitcases to my hotel over cobblestone streets in 95 degrees.

I’m sorry that my shoulders aren’t covered and my shorts are above my knees (sometimes it’s too hot to be 100% respectful) but what, Mr. and Mrs. Arab family, do you not understand about waiting your turn in line to board the bus?

Two families of four, confidently and boldly, cut to the front of the line, as if the 15 of us infidels didn’t exist. The balls. The gall. The rudeness. I wanted to say something but I promised to keep my nose clean and my head down.

I traveled but it never got me anywhereI hopped off at the Dubai Museum, located in the Al Fahidi Fort. The fort was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. Think the Arabic version of Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. (only without the celebrities) The aim is to present the traditional way of life in Dubai.

Back on the bus, we passed gold, spice and textile souks. Cardamon anyone?! The last stop was at yet another mall, so I peeled myself off of my seat, climbed down from the bus and hailed a cab. Look at me wising up.