Age: Six Year: Summer of 1989
Going on a vacation in the camper always starts the same way. Dad spends days (maybe a day) (maybe a few hours) (maybe an hour) getting the camper ready. It has a long hallway inside. In the back, there is a bathroom on one side, and a tub and shower on the other side, but we mostly use it as a closet. You enter the camper through the back. As you walk through, you go by the stove and oven area, where there is also a microwave. Then, there’s long couch, where we sit when we’re driving, but it turns into beds. There is a table where you can sit, too.
Every time we leave, we turn on the Abba tape. That’s how we know the trip has started. I sit by the speaker and try to tune my voice along to the tape so no one can hear it, and I try to harmonize. If anyone hears me, they will laugh, so I have to be stealthy.
Dad usually drives. Mom sometimes gets up to get licorice and chocolate for him.
Dad always says, “Keep your eyes peeled.” We are constantly peeling our eyes. One of Dad’s favorite things to point out to us is geese. Ordinary birds don’t matter, just geese and bald eagles.
One summer when Caitlin is a baby, we take the camper and go to visit Uncle Dick and Auntie Judy in Washington DC. We bring Grandma too.
One night we stay in a KOA campground that has peacocks. At first we think the peacocks are really cool, but then they start barking really loud, and it’s so loud that we can’t sleep much at all.
On our trip, I lose one of my teeth. I wonder if the tooth fairy will be able to find me if I’m not home, but Mom says the tooth fairy always knows where you are.
I’m almost asleep, and I hear Mom come into the camper. Then I hear her coming over to me, so I pretend to be sleeping. Then, I feel her putting something under my pillow.
Mom is the tooth fairy?! I am so disappointed and sad. I start crying. Grandma wakes up.
“What – who is that? What’s going on?” she says, sounding kind of mad.
“It’s me, Grandma.”
“Well, go back to sleep.”
“I can’t. Mo-o-om is the tooth fairy!” I burst into sobs.
“Well, come here, then,” she says. “Sooner or later, everyone has to find out these kinds of things. You’re going to be alright.”
Grandma says some other things that comfort me, but I don’t remember what they are. Mostly, I realize that I’ve just passed a milestone in my life, but I’m relieved to have Grandma here to show me it’s okay.
“Is life going to be different from now on?” I say.
Grandma looks like she doesn’t quite know how to answer that.