By Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said
I’ve been thinking about Max Reddick’s post, “Oh, the places we could go…,” which we crossposted last week on Love Isn’t Enough:
A couple of months or so ago at the end of the summer, my wife and I planned a trip with a few other African American couples we know just to have one last bit of fun before summer ended. When we first conceived of the idea, we bandied about several suggestions, but all of them seemed so absolutely done.
Someone suggested a cookout at the beach, but I was beached out, and I don’t particularly find the beach all that fun. Of course, Disney and/or Universal Studios in Orlando were offered, but we go to Orlando several times a year already so that was out. And in that same vein, someone suggested Busch Gardens in Tampa, but that too was voted down.
Then my wife suggested that we go somewhere and do something none of us had ever done, something unlikely. And we finally decided on a destination and an activity. But on the eve of our trip, one by one the couples and families called us to say that they had to cancel, that they would not be going. And each couple and family proffered the same excuse: “We all talked and decided that that’s just something black folk don’t do.”
Evidently, all of the black folk got together, or at least enough to form a quorum, and decided that black folk didn’t do such things. Read more…
I thought about this–what black folk don’t do–while driving to and from Washington, D.C. this week. I love a good road trip. Driving allows a glimpse of the country and the way people live in a way that flying over does not. There are so many hidden treasures to be found–kitschy shops, little towns nestled in the mountains, frozen in time. Of course, you also see the bad, not just charming Americana. But the bad–the urban blight and rural poverty–are as much a part of the American story as the good. Perhaps we would be better at governing our country if we took time to stretch our legs in another person’s space from time to time–stand on a corner in a city deserted by industry or have lunch in one of those picturesque old-fashioned towns with flags lining mainstreet. It’s all America.
When I was a kid, I had this dream of driving cross-country in a really cool convertible. I haven’t achieved that dream exactly, but, in our 20s, my girlfriends and I took annual 10-day road trips during the summer. We piled in a rented minivan and did it on the cheap. We slept five or six to a room and ate at inexpensive local places. Our goal was exploration. We’d pick a direction–east, south or west–and plot points along the way where we might want to spend a day or two. If we saw a sign for a little-known historical sight or the world’s biggest ball of twine along our route, and seeing it struck our fancy, we’d head off down the trail. On the way to New Orleans, we took a detour to see the campus of Ole Miss, because of its place in civil rights history. On the way to Vegas, we toured the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. I count that time touring the country with my girls among the best times in my live. We had a ball, learned a lot and saw amazing things. There was one night, driving through Texas and New Mexico on a desolate, dark road with the moon shining full, tinting everything blue, that I will never forget.