I’m Sorry I Got Carsick on Our Road Trip, Dad

by  Mike Barish | May 3, 2012
Family roadtrip
Family roadtrip / Epiximages/iStock

When I was around eight years old, my family took a road trip from Long Island, New York to northern Vermont. The drive took nearly eight hours and my father’s new sports car was not exactly made for comfort. As such, I found myself feeling ill toward the end of the trip. My father encouraged me to tough it out since we were “almost there.” What follows is my belated apology to my father for what happened in the backseat of that Honda Prelude.

Dear Dad,

Thanks for the great childhood. I feel like I should stress that point. We had some good times when I was completely reliant on you and Mom for survival. I hope that I have been a gracious and thoughtful child. However, one episode from my youth still haunts me, and I owe you an apology. I vomited in your four-day-old car sometime in the mid-1980s and feel pretty lousy about it.

Our annual trips to Lake Champlain have left me with countless fond memories. From games of capture the flag to buying candy cigarettes in town, I truly enjoyed those trips. The car rides seemed endless at the time, but I was a kid and kids think that all road trips are unbearable.

Motion sickness had never been an issue in my life until that fateful day. Sure, I’ve always been unable to read in cars, but I had spent hours riding in the trunk of Mom’s hatchback without ever turning the upholstery in a Jackson Pollack painting. Sadly, a number of factors conspired against me on that trip and spelled disaster for your fine Japanese automobile.

We stopped at a rest stop for lunch. I don’t recall what we ate, but if memories of my youth are to be believed, it was almost certainly McDonald’s or Roy Rogers. I probably don’t need to belabor that point any further. It was also quite hot outside, with an unrelenting sun beating down on the car. You had the air on, but it struggled to circulate to the backseats.

Let’s address those backseats for a moment. They were bucket seats. Bucket seats aren’t comfortable. I was riding just inches above the service of the road. Every piece of gravel, swerving lane change, and pump of the breaks was felt dramatically.

Just days earlier, you had purchased that sports car despite having two children under the age of 14. The new car smell was intense and exacerbated by the summer heat and insufficient airflow. It permeated my nose (and seemingly every other crevice of my being).

I told you that I didn’t feel well. You announced that we were very close to our destination (and more than likely added a comment about the “great time” that we were making). Meanwhile, the heat, smell, and food were conspiring to initiate a revolt on behalf of all of the world’s children stuck on uncomfortable road trips.
You hadn’t lied. We were almost there. In fact, we pulled into the parking lot of our resort before the protestors in my body could fully realize their potential. You opened the door for me to spelunk my way out of the backseat, but, before I could, I projectile vomited all over your brand new car.

Sorry about that, Pop. Sorry you shoehorned me into your new two-door sardine can for an eight-hour road trip when we easily could have taken Mom’s car. I hope the FM radio was worth it.

Love always,

P.S. – I’d do it all over again if I had the chance.

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