If you are of a certain age Breakfast In America might make you think of Supertramp and I can’t blame you, because if often does for me, mostly because Take The Long Way Home has become one of my personal anthems.
But most of the time when I think about breakfast in America it is tied into food and into travel.
When I was a kid my folks used to load my 86 sisters and I into our station wagon and we’d head out onto the road for family vacations.
I’d spend most of those trips in the seat right behind my father looking out of the window or reading a book. Many of those moments are burned into my memory, endless hours of staring at train tracks, looking at farmland, the ocean or rolling fields of crops all the while listening to whatever song mom played on the radio or cassette player.
Eventually we’d stop at some restaurant along the road and my sisters and I would go play with the cigarette machines they had in the lobby, you know the ones that had those Foosball like handles you’d pull on or we’d go see if someone forgot to take the change from the payphones and nag our parents about why it was taking so long to be seated.
Sometimes my sisters would fall asleep in the booth and it would be just my parents and I awake at the table. In the background I’d hear them play some of the easy listening music of the time and I’d feel like a big shot because I was the only kid who was still awake at the table.
Decades later those songs still take me back while others bring along the early memories and ones that came later on.
It is an interesting mix of memories because you have the boy, the teenager, the twenty something, husband and father all wrapped up in those songs.
And then you have someone else, old Jack the guy who has driven and or flown thousands of miles by himself for work. That guy is an amalgamation of all who came before and yet he is his own individual.
Don’t know if that makes sense to you but I get it and sometimes that is all that is important.
What I know for certain is there have been moments during those individual trips where I saw/experienced things that I wished I could have shared with another.
Moments where I smiled and thought about how to record that minute in time so I could share it later and then laughed because I knew there was no way to show you what I saw.
All I could do was hope to have a chance to create new moments and memories down the road at a different place and time.
Travel By Car Versus Air
My children don’t know the road trip with the same sort of intimacy as I do. They have been a part of some road trips but most of them include plane travel and though that is special too sometimes I think they have missed out on some things.
Because when you are not trapped inside a giant metal tube you can stop any time you want. When you see some little joint with a wagon wheel on the roof you can pull over and check it out.
You can stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton for Pea Soup and clean bathrooms or hit family restaurants in Santa Barbara that are supposedly haunted. You can visit ghost towns that were big in the gold rush or go see where Wyatt Earp and company took on their enemies.
These moments are harder to come by in part because of finances and time constraints. My dad had a very healthy vacation plan so we could go away for weeks at a time.
But unlike me my kids didn’t have to wait until they were 16 to start flying from state to state and place to place.
TheyÂ don’t have the memories of hitting a Motel 6 and hearing mom tell dad to turn up the television because the people in the room next door were too loud or still tease their sisters about the time they got car sick and threw up on each other
But that doesn’t mean they don’t have some very good memories or that they won’t get the opportunity to create some more because they will.
One of the many reasons why I am working on changing our situation is to put us in a position where we can create more more of those moments and spend less time trying to chase enough change to pay daily expenses.
Life is meant to be lived, not endured.
Breakfast In America
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals, especially those moments where we are able to really indulge ourselves and enjoy fine food, great coffee and the sort of company that makes you pleased to be a person and not a plant.
And believe me, I have met some people I wish were plants because then they would have an excuse for their amazing personalities.
But I suppose it is both fair and important to add that if I have learned anything in my travels it is that a very fine meal is never the same when you eat it alone than when you have company.
Last week I went on an interview in which I sat at the top of a large building and looked down upon BJs. It is hard not to smile because it is a place where I have had some wonderful experiences, some of which truly blew me away.
Moments where you share a meal with someone who understands you and in turn is understood by you. Moments where you don’t have to fill the silence with words because you can communicate just as effectively with a glance or a smile as you can with sound.
When my son tells me about how the girls at school won’t stop messing with him I tell him that I am sure at least one of them likes him. He tells me it is ridiculous and that someone that likes you would never mistreat you and I laugh.
I tell him sometimes the people we care about are the ones who make us act the goofiest and that girls are very good at making us feel foolish. He shakes his head at me and tells me he’ll never have a girlfriend and yells at me when I laugh.
“Dad, why can’t you take me seriously?”
“Because I know you and I know me. I know enough to know that some girl will catch your eye and one day you’ll find one that you will want to spend time with more than anyone.”
“You aren’t me and you can’t know that. You have sisters, so you have to know how irritating they are.”
“I do and I can promise you no one will make you crazier. Some day there will be a girl who holds your heart and you will be furious that she makes you feel so damn stupid. And just when you can’t figure out if you are an idiot for giving her this power she’ll do something and you’ll wonder how you ever could have been angry with her.”
He shakes his head at me and tells me if he becomes a father it is because he is going to adopt a child.
“One day you and I are going to have a very serious conversation about safe sex because you are going to discover there is a world here you know nothing about. One of my great hopes for you is that you find the right person to have breakfast with and that they are the person you want to have breakfast in America with.”