The Backseat

I remember dreading it… Not because of the destination, but because of the time in the car.  My sister and I were in the backseat, my Dad driving and my Mom in the passenger seat.  The Eagles or Chicago or Hall & Oates would come on the radio, we would turn around and look out the back window, or sail our hands in the wind out our windows.  I would always get a little car sick as we traveled that mountain road.  All there was to see out the window was other cars or brush covered hillside… It’s L.A., so no big trees or wildlife to look at.  There was a dump along the way, so every once in a while you could find a large, green truck crawling up a windy road, loaded heavy with the excess of life in the city.  Sometimes I would just lay on the backseat… On my half of course, nothing starts a bigger battle with a sibling than crossing the imaginary wall between you and your sister.  The ultimate destination, my Aunt and Uncles apartment, which was the reward for the in car torture my little 6 year old mind endured.

It’s 32 years later, and that twisty mountain road with nothing but browning native vegetation, has gotten much smaller.  No longer can you watch garbage trucks climb its sides, but you can see the Getty, Skirball Cultural Center, million dollar homes and the car in front of you, the ones behind and those that surround you all going about 20 mph (If you’re lucky).  It is no longer the mysterious route to my relatives in Westwood… It’s the 405 freeway, Sepulveda Pass, and it’s the gateway to my kids.

It was 7:30 am last Wednesday, we had just made the transition from the 101 to the South 405, and it was at it’s regular crawl.  The radio was playing Taylor Swift and I heard a tiny voice singing along, I gazed in the rear view mirror, there sat Lucy, securely strapped into her seat, singing her beautiful little heart out, next to her, Bing, also strapped in place, looking out the window for “buggy cars”… or Mini Coopers… Or Smart Cars… Or Limos… Or PT Cruisers.  There they were, the same age as my sister and me, when we would travel the same road .

I had no way of knowing so many years ago, that someday I would take over the drivers seat, and behind me would sit my two little angels, peering out the windows at the same landscape… Only more developed… And more often (14 times last week).  I wondered if they will one day drive their kids on this freeway, and if so where will they be going?  Will they have pleasant memories of their time on the 405?  Or will it be a constant reminder of their parents divorce, the distance between their two lives, the way over the natural barrier that separates Daddy’s from Mommy’s?

Our lives are like that road, on ramps, off ramps, bumps, accidents, traffic, people passing you, others falling behind…  All we can do is travel it as safely as possible, and hope something good comes on the radio.

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  • Laka (Lisa A)

    Now you have depressed me, I do believe your kids will remember things good & bad, but I know you have worked hard to give your kids the most pleasant memories, in the end that is what counts!!! Have a great wk

  • Connie in Colorado

    Oh Jack…so beautifully described, every time you blog about your angels, I can picture the whole scenario. I hope you are saving all of these for a book of memories for them! You have awesome talent as a writer, but more importantly, as their Dad……keep up the good work and never give up hope! You are their hero.

  • Silvia

    WOW!! The way you express yourself is so extremely beautiful. You really should consider writting a book. The feelings of a divorced father who adores his children. I don’t have kids…so I can’t relate to what you are going through but when I read your blog I can honestly say that I feel your emotions. They are so clear…and I sincerely sympathize with your pain. God bless you and those amazing little children he blessed you with….