Monday, July 07, 2008

The beginning: A 1974 Yellow Opel

Twenty-five years ago, my parents bought their first car in America for $500 and we set off on our first family vacation for the banks of the Mississippi river. We were new to America and excited to explore it's vast beauty.

With a fist full of crisp bills, no hotel reservations, minimal understanding of English, no friends for guidance, and no camera to document our trip we took to the road paving our first memories of America, outside of Chicago's walls.

I was Jay's age and my memories of the trip are vague. There was a tire swing over the muddy Mississippi river. Our dusty highway motel had views of cows grazing in the meadows. We had a coffee machine in our room. I remember the taste of my first bag of salty American potato chips.

There was no parade. No fireworks. No fancy dinners. No pool. No friends.

Nevertheless, we always fondly reminisce about the cows in the meadow and the tire swing cast above the river. Today, we laugh about our unreliable 1974 yellow Opel that stalled at every corner and smile at how excited we were to be staying at a "real" motel.

Twenty-five years have passed.

Last week, I bought $500 worth of airplane tickets and set off to spend the 4th of July, in Chicago, with my parents. Armed with three credit cards, three children, a reservation to stay at my parent's house, and a professional grade camera we were ready to create some memories of our own.

There was a beautiful parade that threw out candy, water, and toys. We viewed fireworks from four different communities on my parent's private backyard beach. We had a fancy brunch at the Four Seasons where Fifi sipped her first orange juice from a crystal glass. And the pool.... my parent's backyard pool was used a dozen times a day; I could barely keep up with drying four swimsuits per each child. We were surrounded by friends and family whom my children politely passed out chocolates to during the party. "Would you like to try one of these?" They asked each person at the party before moving onto the next. They were so confident, so polished, so perfect after their two hour forced nap. I was so incredibly proud of them.

Our 1974 yellow Opel transported us to make our first memories of a 4th of July vacation in America. A Boeing 737 transported the kids and I to make our own 4th of July vacation memories.

So much has changed in twenty-five years.

But there is one thing that is the same. You can't move forward in life by staying still. If life is like riding a bicycle, my parents have been pedaling at Tour de France speed for 25 years. I see so much of that in my own children. Lola can't stay still, Jay is always thinking, and Fifi is no longer walking but running.

It makes me wonder what the next twenty-five years will bring us. An Opel. A Boeing. What will transport to our 4th of July family vacation in 2033? One thing is for sure, memories will be made.

Jay & Lola, on the 4th of July, running across Babcia's private beach.


Fifi's first taste of orange juice at the Four Season's Chicago.

We are home tomorrow.

56classy comments:

Buttermouth said...

I'm bummed I missed that first family vacation :(

Chelsea said...

I LOVE the 4th of July.

I love that Fifi sipped juice from crystal at the Four Seasons. Glad you had a nice time.

Rhea said...

Amazing post!

First of all, your kids each have four bathing suits? NO way. They must do a lot of swimming!!

My dad had a little yellow Opal at one point. That thing was hilarious.

I think it's so cool you can remember your first impressions of being in America and compare them to now. You are so eloquent with your words and feelings. This was an incredible post, I loved it! And the picture of Fifi having her first crystal orange juice was priceless!

Mr Lady said...

Word up, and save travels home. :)

just jamie said...

"You can't move forward in life by staying still." Bravo OHMommy. Well put.

Love the way you capture the moments of the today, and tie them all pretty with a classy bow on yesterdays memories.

Kellan said...

That little Fifi is darling - DARLING!!

I'm glad you had a good 4th of July with your parents! Take care and have a good week! Kellan

Kelley said...

can I come next year? I will wash my own bathing suits ;)

Beautiful post babe. Two very different holidays but the main theme was love.

lattemommy said...

It doesn't matter how you get there - Opel, airplane... it's the family part of family vacation that makes it so special.

I know you'll be glad to get home, but I'm willing to bet you'll be hoping for a trip to Chicago again soon.

Have a safe trip tomorrow!

Miss said...

Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful. I cant wait to see more pics!!

Ashley said...

Wow, that sounds like an awesome time...we've missed you!

maggie said...

Aw, very, very sweet post, and so true how different yet the same things are 25 years apart. Safe travels on your return!

Huckdoll said...

I would adore hearing more about your parents journey sometime. They seemed to have built quite a life for their family and themselves.

Fifi and the orange juice is nothing short of precious.

momof3crazykids-Val said...

Wow, what great memories from the past and present.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

To change is to live. It looks like you have had a wonderful trip. Have a safe jaunt home tomorrow!

:-)

THopgood said...

You've painted such a visual picture of the contrast of times. Loved this post!

I'm always wondering what is in store for us in 25 years...I can't wait to find out...

Mishelle Lane said...

Memories are such a beautiful thing.

Glad you've had such a nice time, Draga.

mommynotes said...

I loved your post. Fifi sipping OJ was so cute. I love the fourth of July. We spent a lazy day at home and at the pool with our girls. We also had low fat hot dogs and fourth of July cupcakes. After the girls went to bed we sat outside watching the fireworks displays. I hope you have safe travels home. It sounds like a very nice trip!

Allison Says said...

So glad your trip is going well!

What a great story about your first Fourth of July in America. Really wonderful!

Fifi drinking OJ is super cute! Did she like it?

Krystyn said...

What a great way to remember your past, and sort of forecast the future. I wonder what it will be like, too! Who knows.

Tracey said...

Glad you're having such a great time! Travel home safely!

Mandy said...

Great post!! Thanks for sharing.

That is so cute of little Fifi sipping out of the crystal. :)

Kelly said...

I have many fond memories of vacations as a child. My parents always talk of how tight money was when we were young but I never noticed. They always saved for a vacation and they always made sure we had a nice xmas. Many memories.

I'm glad you had a wonderful 4th. Have a safe trip home!!

Shannon said...

What beautiful memories, and new ones created. Sounds like it was a terrific trip and a total success! That picture of Fifi is SWEET, look how grown up she looks with her special orange juice :-)

Marmarbug said...

The 4th is SUCH a cool holiday. It really is.
And I love your first family vacation story. We used to have very simple vacations when I was a kid and I have the BEST memories of them.

Eve Grey said...

Oh man, that Fifi is just precious.
I love the memories of your own childhood vacation. Sometimes I worry we give our kids too much and I wonder which memories will be precious for them.

Karen said...

No matter the circumstances, the resounding theme is family. And that's the way it should always be.

Indy said...

I have yet to sip OJ at the Four Seasons. Lucky Lola!

Indy said...

Oops. It was Fifi. At least I didn't use their real names. :)

HRH said...

Great story.

Nan Patience said...

What a great post... *sniff*

April said...

You know what's funny? That first 4th of July trip of yours sounded JUST AS FUN as this years. ;-)

The Diva's Thoughts said...

"You can't move forward in life by staying still." So very true.

Great post.

Happy Days said...

Great Post! Have a safe trip home!

Elizabeth said...

what a beautiful post!

Don Mills Diva said...

What a great post - I often wonder how different Graham's memories will be from mine and whether our experiences today will seem quaint when he is my age...

MamaWise said...

Have a safe trip home! We will be happy to have you back!

XOXO

P.S. Can't wait for this week's barbecue!

Smart A$$ Mom said...

how exciting! what a great way to celebrate the 4th!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Fifi is very fancy!

Cecily R said...

Fantastic post! You have such a great way of conveying memories.

Travel safe.

Karen MEG said...

I loved this post, OM. You are a fantastic writer, seriously! These are wonderful childhood memories for your children.

I often wonder too, as our kids get used to the flying about, staying at hotels nicer than the motels we stayed in as kids, what the next generation has in store. Maybe they'll be jetting their kids off to the moon!

Reminds me of childhood memories with my parents, flying around the back of my Dad's T-bird (no seatbelts), his one indulgence that took my mom years to forgive him for.

Inspiration for a post - thanks, sweet lady!!

carrie said...

What an incredible look back AND look forward.

Your future will be blessed, as will theirs. Enjoy every dang minute of it, even if they spill OJ from a crystal glass at a fancy hotel . . . even if! :)

moooooog35 said...

That's not orange juice she's drinking.

It's a Momosa.

Authorities are on their way. Please wait right there.

Kash said...

Seriously, this past weekend was the only time I ever felt like we celebrated the 4th like a real American family! How far we've come.

kimmy said...

Fifi looks like she is having fun with her glass of OJ. Did she like it?

Kimmy

Jennifer said...

what a nice post! :)

Kendra said...

I love the way you described the vacations. Sounds wonderful. And those photos…amazing. Your little Fifi is just too precious. Keep those memories close to your heart.

TONYA said...

"You can't move forward in life by staying still."

Love that comment. Well said. I couldn't agree more.

What a fabulous 4th of July you had.

SLOWDOG said...

My favorite posts are when you honor your parents and talk about your childhood and being an immigrant. Makes my heart smile to hear how your family embraced your new life in the USA. Nice post!

A Whole Lot of Nothing said...

Our kids have NO idea how lucky they are to be able to sip OJ from a crystal glass. Adorable!

MORE PICS!

Shellie said...

I'm glad you're here! Hope we're still celebrating in 25 years, one way or another.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Beautiful pictures.

Elaine A. said...

I wanna sip OJ at the Four Seasons in Chicago! Now if that ain't a perfect example of "Classy", I don't know what is.

Nice post.

Victoria said...

Lovely pics! Welcome home.

Wendi said...

I am so behind in my reader.
I am determined to get through it tonight.
Sorry I have not been by to comment.
I have read you each day...now I am back to comment.

Love this post.
Love the parallels.
Love the photos.

SF said...

This story reminds me of the cross-country trips we would take each year from Michigan to Mississippi to visit my grandparents.

There was no DVD players in the 'car' - not SUV. 'I Spy' was the game of choice, not GameBoy or PSP or X-Box in the headrest.

There were no cell phones in the car, so the only people we talked to were each other.

I long for those days again!!

Lisa said...

Lovely post.

I've been thinking a lot about that - all that happened in my 20's. When I hit 40 I'll have a teenager & 12 year old - and maybe another. Crazy, huh?

Sounds like a lovely holiday!

 

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