Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pile in. We're going for a ride

While I was sitting at a stoplight on my way home from work last Thursday night, I noticed a sedan with the right of way pull through the intersection and turn into the oncoming lane.

The car was teeming with what looked like an entire family: two adults in the front seat and tall gangly looking teenagers in the back.

As they passed, I turned my head and stared. Gawking from the inside out at this family "picture," I was hit smack dab in the middle of my 2010 consciousness with a new awareness.

We really don’t have family cars anymore. Mom has her car, Dad has his, Junior and Sister have their cars and so on. Even Grandma and Gramps have their own sets of wheels.

And for better or worse, we don’t really pile into the car as a family the way families did years ago.Why don’t we travel together, all in one vehicle across town, across state or across the country?

I understand that for some families this may not be a very good idea, since all members would not get along.

Even so, when I saw this family barreling along on their way to whereever, I came to the realization that we really do live much of our lives in isolation.

Coexisting in our homes, schools, offices and stores, we travel separately – often arriving alone at the same place: a school play, the wrestling match, a basketball game, Sunday morning church, Wal-Mart, Suzie’s house, Aunt Mabel’s or Papa John’s.

It has long been a status symbol of modern families, some more than others, for each member to have his or her own vehicle. And for most teenagers, it is not even an option to have their parents drive them anywhere. Heaven forbid! They would rather walk than to be seen riding with Mom or Dad.

Seeing that family car loaded down with a real family inside all going to the same place, I was refreshed.

Watching that family car with all of its passengers sitting side-by-side, heads bobbing to the beat of the potholes beneath sagging tires, I was rejuvenated.

Noticing that family car loaded down with a real family inside, all seeing the same dull night lit by the Dairy Queen on the corner, street lights up and down the lane and headlights from oncoming cars, I was renewed.

When I look back on that family scene, I feel reborn.
2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on Facebook.

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