Remember when you were a kid? Summer was sweeping up, autumn waited quietly in the wings, and your first assignment (while your teacher tried frantically to compare the attendance list with the class roster) was "How I spent my summer vacation". If this was my assignment, this is what I would say:
There is a special therapy that occurs when I drive a long distance, a re-creation of sorts. I learned several things this year. For example, I learned that although I learned several behavior response patterns through my life, I don't have to keep all of them. Of course, it took roughly 600 miles to reach this ephipany, and it will probably take a year to implement the corrective measures, but hey, there was a thought, and I had it, and I will probably keep it, too.
I learned that there is something fiercely wonderful about driving through the back of beyond, singing with Marshall Tucker, and suddenly, decades melt together. Satellite radio or I-pods won't do this- the music has to pop up spontaneously. You drove this
route then, you are driving it now, and that song is still a great one for the trip. Is it the seventies or the nineties? Does it even matter?
I learned that even though your friends or family might have stepped off into the abyss, and returned as people you can't or should not love (and there are some, folks, because I am talking about the ones who challenge your sense of self-preservation) their children are still wonderful.
I also learned that although MY family was really quirky and odd early on, almost every family IS messed up, although it might take years to show.
Somewhere in my travels, I saw an article which stated that the auto crisis had a disproportionate effect on rural America. I saw first-hand EXACTLY how badly Detroit handled things-I drove through many towns that had only one car dealer "Tubby Johnson's Cadillac, Jeep, Chrysler, Pontiac and Saturn Autorama" and now these folks are stuck holding a plateful of yesterday's news, and the only car dealership in 200 miles is teetering on the edge of extinction. Tubby's family is staring at the spectre of losing it all, and the dealer's mechanics, sales manager, and parts department wonder where they are going to make enough to buy school shoes and pay off the dishwasher. And whole counties that "bought American" for decades because they felt it the right and decent thing to do were lied to. How does the automotive industry explain itself?
I learned that you don't need special fancy applications and lenses to get a soft focus photo on your camera phone. Simply let a six-year old play a game on your phone, and her fingerprints will do the trick.
We are still a great country. Don't let the naysayers tell you otherwise. I know, because I saw it.