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  • Maya Lynn Harris

The Value of the Journey


In August of 1984, my family drove from Connecticut to Louisiana to attend the World’s Fair. Dad was not a fan of airplanes, so instead he purchased a new mint green Chevy Malibu Station Wagon. We were all pretty excited. My older brother Jason and I loved a good road trip, but we had never traveled this far away from home before. 1420 miles away from home. actually. We loaded the car up with our suitcases and required highway cooler filled with sodas sandwiches, chicken and grapes.

We made it to New York when my brother began to complain about being hot. My father was and still is a very frugal man. So when the car salesman suggested he purchase the optional air conditioning package, he declined. (Yeah, air conditioning was optional back then) So by the time we got to New York, you can imagine how hot it was in the car in the middle of August. My brother continued to complain. Dad said, “Jason just roll down your window.” My brother replied “But there's no handle.” My father, now getting annoyed, said “What are you talking about?” Just roll down the window, Jason!” Again my brother insisted, “But Dad, there's no handle.” Irritated that he was being taken off course, my father pulled the car over to the side of the road. He got out of the car and came to the back where he opened Jay’s back door. Before he could get out another word, he realized that Jason wasn't lying. There wasn't a handle. In fact, neither back window had a handle. The car salesman, you see, insisted that we get the optional air conditioning package because he knew that the car did not have windows that rolled down in the back.

I think that was the first time I heard my father curse. But he was resourceful, he opened the tiny side window vents (the audacity) and then proceeded to open up the rear glass door in the rear of the wagon. We drove, from New York to New Orleans, with the rear glass door open. No one pulled us over. We had plenty of air then! My father was furious the entire time. But he did not turn around. He was determined to get his family to New Orleans for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

But I remember most is that it was the greatest vacation I had ever had. New Orleans was beautiful. We visited family in Alabama. Got to see the Atlanta Falcons practicing on their practice field in Georgia. Dad even got a few players to sign a football for us. We ate frog legs and I learned to write my name in Japanese. It was awesome.

Now as an adult look back and understand the real lesson I was given that week. I may not always have all the tools that I need. I may have obstacles that get in the way of my journey. but the destination is worth it. The journey is as valuable as the destination. Start where you are, open your window and keep it rolling!


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