Can I compliment myself on something? Hell, yes. It’s my blog.
Here it is. Out of all the things, good and bad and indifferent, my husband and I have done with our now-grown children, we’ve done one thing I recommend to all of you with kids. We’ve traveled with them one-on-one. Some of the trips have been exotic, owing to frequent-flier miles and a life I consider very privileged. But that isn’t really the point.
The point is, we’ve been able to spend time with them away from home, in that peculiar isolation travel offers. “Remember the time,” we ask each other — and go on to recount the extraordinary events and the occasional miseries we’ve encountered together. Just the two of us — mother-daughter, mother-son, father-daughter, father-son. The pro-choice march in Washington, D.C., the miles spent facing straight ahead in a car (which almost invariably leads to more talk and shared confidences), crossing the border from Albania to Greece, with pimply teenagers gripping machine guns in the background.
Yesterday, my daughter and I wandered around the Hollywood streets, gawking and eavesdropping shamelessly, just trying to get a sense of this crazy, extravagant place. Who cares about sighting stars (which I am invariably awful at, anyway)? Every time I see a street sign for “Melrose” or “Ventura” or “Mulholland Drive,” I feel giddy. Watching the people, they remind me of what I always see in New York — kids who have come from all over the world to make it big.
“Isn’t she cute?” a woman with a gurgling baby asked a man. He nodded. “We’re going to put her to work,” the woman said. “This is Hollywood, right? She can do commercials and support her parents.” (Sure, the kid was cute, I was thinking. But she wasn’t half as cute as my kids were.)
It all made me think of one of my favorite movies, “The Late Show,” where Lily Tomlin’s character announces, “I’ve already done the whole star trip.”
The weather is idyllic and the streets are calling out. Yesterday, it was the Farmers’ Market and Melrose boutiques, today, we’re headed uphill to Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard. We’ll walk and we’ll talk and we’ll collapse at coffee houses to shore ourselves up.
Travel together: That’s the one piece of advice I feel confident in giving any parent. Somehow, the farther and longer you go, the closer you can become. I can’t think of anything more important or valuable. It’s the real star trip.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)