After years of beachside brunches, lovely floral arrangements and mimosa toasts, what do you do for a unique and memorable Mother’s Day? How about ditching the norm (well, keep the mimosas) and setting out on a road trip?! I got the idea from a friend who talked about wanting to do a cross-country drive in an Airstream. As I began planning, I thought back to all the road trips my family took in the ’80s to Palm Springs for tennis tournaments, to Camarillo for outlet shopping and up to Yosemite National Park, where I swore I saw a bear.
But this time, as grown women, we could enjoy the trip in a new way. My nana, Geneva, 83, has become much more sassy and confident in her old age. Joy, my mom, has never been short on sass, plus she’s eyeing a retirement from medicine. Naima, my sister, 32, lives in Harlem, and her busy life as an art curator leaves little time for sisterly phone calls. And at 30, I’m navigating the craziness of home ownership and trying to get my mom to stop derailing my savings plan with ploys of hitting Saks.
My plan? A weekend to celebrate my mom turning the big 6-0. Of course, the trip was even better considering our wheels: a rented plush, Beyoncé-worthy Airstream Interstate RV. It spoiled us with a minibathroom, a full bed, plenty of seating, stemware for some on-the-road bubbly and Pandora radio, which was essential for our Al Green sing-alongs.
And so it began: a four-and-one-half-hour, 275-mile journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
And We’re Off
Despite some complaining from resident sleepyhead Naima, .we got on the road at 4:30 a.m. Trying to beat traffic out of the city., we piled in and gave ourselves 45 minutes to get to West Covina, where we agreed we could reward ourselves with venti caffe, no whip, extra- hot lattes with an extra shot of espresso for good measure. Although driving a huge RV seemed overwhelming at first, it was a surprisingly smooth ride, and the rearview camera made lane changes much easier.
Pulling the 23-foot-long RV into a Starbucks parking lot was quite a feat, especially in front of the looky-loos wondering what these Black women were doing trying to enter the drive-through. Fearing an accident and certain vacation buzzkill, Mom and Naima jumped out for the caffeine. Then after a tricky—and probably illegal—U-turn, we were back on the 10 Freeway: full tank of diesel, me at the wheel, Nana asleep in the back and New Edition bumping on Pandora just in time for sunrise.
Who knew Nana was a pinochle champ back in the day? Naima and I would have never guessed when we pulled out the cards and Connect Four. “Well, I don’t tell you girls everything,” smirked Nana. Born Geneva Carter in Detroit, Nana married the first man she ever dated. She met Wayne State University classmate Frank Simmons, a smooth-talking jock, and they soon got hitched. “You know, I think he went out with me because I could help him with his homework,” Nana said candidly. “Aww, but you two were so in love, c’mon now,” said Mom, a true daddy’s girl. “Well, the best thing was that he got us out of Detroit,” Nana said, imitating a cold shiver. The first in their families to leave Michigan, Nana and Grandfather moved to L.A. when he got a job at the Veterans Hospital. “I managed the money and made sure the bills were paid. We just divided up the responsibilities,” said Nana of their 33-year marriage. “I don’t know if that worked, but that’s all I knew. Nowadays, you girls are dating longer, and I guess, learning more about men.” Naima chuckled, realizing that Nana was trying to get her to divulge details about her own relationship. But just before Naima could comment, Nana piped up, .“Now all men my age want is a nurse with a purse.”. Nearly choking on her oatmeal, Mom busted out laughing and rolled her hazel eyes. “Never a dull moment.”
“Mom, what is up that demure look on your face? Be real; you’re trying too hard,” I said, laughing at a 1978 picture of my parents’ attempt to look sophisticated. “Shoot, my little ’fro was cute. And I was demure back then … sorta,” she said with a smirk. “And ya’ll wouldn’t have all those curls if I hadn’t married your father.” She loves to remind us that she gave us height, and he gave us our curly hair. .“Your daddy was a mack.
|back in the day. He may be square now, but he thought.he was Super Fly,”. said my mom, barely able to keep a straight face while flipping through photo albums. “Oh, Lord Jesus,” I said as we pulled into the gas station.