My favorite collection of memories are the ones of Sunday mornings when my dad and I would take long car rides around the Washington D.C. area. On these particular Sundays I’d find myself awake around 7am, sleep instantly having vanished from my eyes the moment they were opened. Making the most of it, I’d amble down the stairs into the kitchen, lured by the smell of fresh coffee, to find my dad thumbing through the Sunday classifieds over three pieces of toast, dressed in his off-day bagel shop owner attire (jeans and a dark polo), presumably searching for his next business venture.
By the time I’d have entered the kitchen he’d already have a few destinations in mind, himself having been up since 4 (the fate of many a restaurateur on his day off). Ordinarily these places would be located in two very different parts of the D.C. metro area. This always added to the sense of adventure.
As I’d approach the kitchen table, he’d look up, smile a warm “good morning,” and nudge the plate of toast toward as I sat down.
“Want to go for a ride?”
“Great. Get something to eat and then get dressed.”
I don’t remember much about the places we’d see on these morning drives. There were the occasional trips through White’s Ferry at Point of Rocks to get from Maryland to Virginia, the winding roads in the northern and western parts of the area, the actual destinations themselves of course, and of course the weekly stop at Montgomery Donuts for a bear claw or apple fritter.
What I remember best of all is Casey Kasem counting’em down on the radio each week.
As with the Sunday itineraries, I can’t claim to know the top 10 or even number one top songs of each Sunday morning’s ride, but certain songs definitely stand out: Fields of Gold-era Sting, early Sheryl Crow, and, of course, Kiss From a Rose-era Seal.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these drives recently. They’re linked to a peaceful, easy feeling that I don’t often afford myself these days. They harken back to a time when my greatest concerns were things like my grade on an elementary or middle school test, how I was fitting in at school, or, during the latter drives during high school, if that girl was interested in me as much as I was in her. It occurs to me that the issues haven’t changed so much since then. But there are other responsibilities that come with adult life, and as dad knew, these additional responsibilities take up additional time.
Still, the time we shared in the car on those Sunday rides was free of all that. It was real, quality leisure time, meant for relaxing and looking out the window at the passing landscape. Of course these rides weren’t completely void of the occasional heart to heart conversation (this also being quality father-son catch up time). But by and large I remember these trips as relaxing. Fun. Cool, even. And Casey Kasem’s countdown tied the whole picture together with his well-practiced, even-toned, and optimistic delivery.
Things may have changed some, but I think I can definitely find time to set aside for that sort of leisure time, as busy as I am. Casey Kasem may no long count’em down every week, but good options abound these days. The next musical companion for my own rambling Sunday morning drive.