Gatlinburg – City of Catastrophe and Adventure [Part 1 of One Million Thousand]
The Gatlinburg Chronicles
March 11, 2012. PRESENT DAY
Saturday night I went to bed at 1 a.m. On the night of turning forward our clocks for daylight savings time (don’t even get me started on this topic), 1 a.m. was an especially bad bedtime. That’s 2 a.m. on the new time and I was unfortunately due to be up again at 4:20 a.m. For the numbers-impaired, that’s 2 hours and 20 minutes of sleep if you fall asleep the moment you hunker down. I did not. I never do. Strangely enough, I felt just fine all the next day. Why the wacky schedule? We were leaving town and needed to make it to Cordele, GA for church by 10:30.
Today we began our Spring Break pilgrimage to the mountains. Gatlinburg, TN. I don’t have the time or the discipline to count how many times I’ve been here. I have memories of this place and the roadtrips as far back as when I was 4 years old. Every single trip has some sort of stand out moment. I don’t yet know what this trip’s stand out moment will be, but I will share the standout moment from Sunday:
We pulled away from my driveway at 5:10 a.m. With my mom and dad in the front seat, Beloved and me in the middle seats, and SassyMonkey in the back seat between the two boys. The kids’ chattering voices bounced around in the darkness like a pinball. They were so excited. I settled back into my comfy bucket seat to enjoy a flawless ride when I heard Mama’s Boy pipe up from the back,
“My throat is hurting and I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”
Now. If I had a dime for every time he has said this, I could buy myself a tricked-out Schwinn with a side car. You get me? When I do hear this phrase, which–again–is a lot, I have two very basic choices: to over-react or under-react. Both have their risks.
Sunday I chose a new approach: React calmly and then, if you can’t solve the problem, pretend it doesn’t exist. He didn’t want a drink. He didn’t want to switch seats to alleviate the motion sickness. What he wanted was a cup.
“Get me a cup to throw up, Mama. I need a cup.”
I leaned forward toward my parents in the front seat. “Um, does anyone have a cup, because as many times as I’ve been through this exact scenario, I didn’t bring a cup labeled Vomit.”
“I have an orange juice cup here,” my dad said. “It’s still got some in it. You’ll have to drink it down first.”
Oh dear. These are not good options. I can risk not handing the Current Reigning Vomit Champion of the Southeast a vomit cup, OR I can drink the watered down orange juice leftovers of my dad and hand the boy the cup. As I considered these choices, he began to gag in the back. I whipped my head around, raised the juice-and-vomit cup to my lips, and sucked down the last of the juice. Mmm. Gross. Here you go, boy. Bottoms up.
And he did indeed throw up. And when he was done, he handed me back that cup. For the second time I was holding this cup that I didn’t want. And it was only 6 a.m. It was hard to get cozy after that. I just kept waiting for the other Vomit Cup to drop…
The rest of the journey was uneventful, though a little bit longish. We popped in some bluegrass music to listen to as we began our winding ascent into the Smokies. Just as my parents and I began to belt out our best John Denver, the kids started howling like coyotes. Thanks for nothing, guys.
Since we’ve been here, the kids have been drinking orange juice like starving babies.
Somehow I just can’t bring myself to do it…