My youngest son announces he wants to take a road trip up to San Francisco (360 miles away) with two friends. His car, he’s driving, the others are pitching in for the gas. College starts in two weeks and he hasn’t done much over the summer but sleep, skate, and hang out.
“Oh, yeah?” I say. “Where are you staying?” (he has a gas card and $30 left from his June HS graduation)
“We’re sleeping in the car, taking the sleeping bags.” (in a small SUV? He’s 6 ft. tall)
“Where are you parking?”
“In someone’s neighborhood I guess.” (uh, no). “Sam’s Club parking lots?” (no SC in Frisco). “At a campground?” (Muir woods is 2 hrs. away).
“Hostels run about $25 a night.” I say.
“Are you kidding, didn’t you see that movie “Hostel?” (uh, no again).
“Do you know how to change a flat tire or use jumper cables in case something happens with the car?” I ask.
“I’ll youtube it if I need to know.” (uh, right-youtube).
“How you gonna eat on $30 for 3 or 4 days?” (I’ve seen him eat).
“I’m vegan remember, pita chips, hummus, juice, fruit.” (Okay I guess he can buy a lot of that for cheap).”You don’t want me to go, huh?” he says.
“I want you to think about it first. Give me a plan I’m comfortable with and then it’s fine.”
Now I don’t want to be a downer, but I don’t want him rousted by SF police for sleeping in his car. And I don’t want to give him money for a hotel-you know SF prices?! And then I remember my first road trip, when I was twenty, to San Diego and Tijuana with three girlfriends. It was so long ago I can’t remember where we slept, but I still remember the guys we met in SD, Carnitas Urupan in TJ, and having to go to the secondary inspection area at the border crossing.
How can I deny him a road trip experience? Adventure and exploring is part of a young man’s makeup. It was part of my own experience. But then I envision him skateboarding down Lombard St. or sleeping on the side of the road or his car messing up and there’s no youtube connection.
I remind myself that I’m a concerned parent, I’m not hovering over a just turned 19 year old. I don’t know how this will turn out but he just may ask his father for some ways to earn money at his house, or his grandma’s, or sell video games. And that’s fine. Where there’s a will there’s a way is my firm belief.
We’ll see what develops in the next few days. I’m already feeling melancholy.