As we grow older and attempt to adult ourselves, we come to appreciate, at least a fraction of the apprehensions, struggles, and hustle that makes up our parents’ generation. Taking on child rearing responsibility fairly young, cultivating a fierce instinct to shield their family from harms way, and persisting years of experience in this hardened world teaches them to constantly be on the look out for danger. The flight that we shouldn’t miss, the turn that we should have taken, the rules that we should follow. Before one realizes, they grow up, before time and the child in them takes a back seat.
Living the best life they envision, sticking to known roads on the map, following the rules, and navigating along the trodden path – takes them far away from living a carefree life as a child. But a carefully crafted life provides their own kids unparalleled opportunities which puts us in the driver’s seat years later, and somehow our parents end up in the backseat on a US road-trip.
Now! All that our generation wants to do is take roads lesser known, curves riskier than ever, and tempting detours in the hopes of hitting a pot of gold at the end of rainbows.
Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take. And so, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah finally came to be one such detour in the last few hours of a family road trip back from YellowStone and Grand Teton National Parks.
A couple of hours on the straight Interstate 80 West from Salt Lake City, Utah, i attempted to visit these flats once before on a similar road trip with friends to Arches and Canyon Lands National park. But i have come to realize that some trips live on your bucket list an entire 2 years before the universe conspires against all rational powers for it to culminate. And the time has finally come.
To set some context, it takes the four of us incredible amount of planning, calling in all favors to have trusted family members dog-sit Oscar back home, and a milestone the likes of a graduation, to leave my parent’s worldly worries (and my mom’s beloved plants 🌿and watering them in India) behind.
To be entirely honest, we had plenty of time before our flight back to Boston from Salt Lake City and this detour would cost us a good 5 hours in total, but we would still make it back in time for boarding if everything would go as per plan.
Naturally, my parents are uncertain about the detour and persuaded my sister and i against it. ‘Do we really need to see the salt flats? Didn’t we see something similar in Kutch, Gujarat, India 25 years ago?’ ‘I think we should just go to the airport and wait to board the flight’ and numerous other variations of dissuasions ensued.
But well, like i said, they had finally taken a backseat, both literally and metaphorically and so, detour it was.
Forecasts were rainy, cold, wet and gray through out.
And, when we reached most of instagram crowd and adventurous tourists had thinned out leaving the flats entirely for our viewing.
My parents decided to stay in the car and refused to step out in the cold, rain and wind.
So my sister and i ventured out into the white salty wilderness.
Gingerly feeling the sticky wet saline deposits.
Sliding on to a crystalline slippery landscape.
And then taking flight.
Higher with time and multiple attempts.
We girls were really taking it all in, all the while trying to capture both vanity and pure joy on our cameras.
As we reflected deeply on all the amazing places life has taken us and all the incredible experiences we have had.
A nagging thought struck us…
…our mom and dad were still sitting in the car and absolutely refused to open their eyes to see and live this moment.
So we refused to take another minute of this childish behavior! And we dragged them both out.
At first my mom reluctantly posed for the shutterbug, all the while smiling silly at the situation and i think wondering why on earth were we doing this to her.
My dad just gave in and followed instructions dutifully.
And them we asked them to just let go and jump for us.
I don’t know if it was the fresh cold air, the salty high or our incessant badgering, but they seemed to really get into it now!
And so halfway across the world, in the middle of a salt flat, the American state of Utah, finally they were set free.
For the first time in years, we saw our parents really be childlike. With smiles and laughter that effortlessly traveled to their eyes, soul and entire being.
On our drive back, as we dusted and scrubbed the salt deposits off our clothes, and shoes, it struck me.
The salt will wash off but the memories will last forever. The time when you saw your parents be kids again.
The more time that passes me by, the more i am convinced that at the end of the day all we are left with are a handful of enduring memories. They say that your life flashes you by in the last moments of life, especially memories with your loved ones. At least, Vincent Van Gogh does. And anyone who was able to color a starry night into magic, i will willingly believe.
“And the memories of all we have loved stay and come back to us in the evening of our life. They are not dead but sleep, and it is well to gather a treasure of them.” — Vincent Van Gogh Letters
And did our generation of taking roads lesser known, risky curves, and tempting detours find what we were looking for you ask?
On the drive back to Salt Lake City, an hour in, the clouds parted, the sun came out and we sure hit a pot of gold.
And settled for nothing less than rainbows!
This is a wedding anniversary post for Mom & Dad — Inspiring couples since 1985! May you retain your childish fervor through the adulting! Happy 35! We love you 😍 😘