Epiphanies

On the Road Again

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Travels with my daughter

By Brian Doyle

May 23, 2014


 

Took my daughter to get her driver’s license renewed today, and somehow this jaunt set off a wild cascade of memories of other significant times we had been together in the car. Day two of her life outside her mother, when I drove them home, creeping along the highway at about two miles per hour, snarling at all the drivers whizzing by at 60—did they not realize I was carrying the most incredible mother and child ever, all due respect to that nice Jewish boy Jesus and his mom? Age three, when foolishly I drove her to the Montessori school, because really she should be around other kids and be socialized and acclimatized and other similar serious sonorous words we use when we are not at all sure that what we are saying is a good idea, which it turned out it wasn’t, and she clung so tightly to my leg that I can still feel the imprint of her fingers 19 years later, and we drove home. Age six, when we drove to her first soccer practice, which turned out to be the first of 18 million voyages to and from soccer and basketball practice. Ages 10 through 15, trips to the beach and the museum and the mountain and sleepovers and cousins and the store and the library and the school and camp and all those other trips, every one of which was sweeter than I knew at the time, even when she was all hissy and disgruntled because no other dad blasted nothing but Van Morrison cassettes in his car, much to her embarrassment and mortification, as she had many times said with asperity.

That first trip to the Department of Terrifying Vehicles at age 15, to get her learner’s permit, and back again to get her license, and then to the prom, and college, and how could it be that the child who was clinging so adamantly to my leg a few minutes ago is now willowy and amused and sitting next to me in the car being unnervingly tender and mature? How could that be? Was she not clutching my pinky finger one moment ago, and hiding behind my legs when people said, O my, what a sweet child, and learning to read by poring over the spines of books, and conspiring with two other kindergarten girls to be best friends for the next 15 years, and begging for a dog, and dressing as a bumblebee for the school pageant and the Independence Day parade and All Hallows Eve? Was she not just the height of my knee, with eyes bigger than the planets in toto, and all the world before her like a shining road scattered with stars?

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine and the author of numerous books, most recently the novel The Plover.

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