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One day six months ago, I was cleaning out my e-mail when I came across a solicitation to learn about “The Ultimate Road Trip with GoRVing.com.” I’ve been a professional journalist for more than 35 years—unlike fatherhood, I started young. All over the world, journalists every day hear from businesses that want publicity. Usually, in my line of reportage, I plumb people’s souls for the deeper truths beneath the culture and the news. I go to living rooms, rural outposts, scenes of crimes, ghettos—not resorts and spas. My last expense account included four business meals at various Denny’s restaurants, in a radius around South Central Los Angeles, with a former drug kingpin who became a vegan while serving two decades in prison. (Turns out Denny’s has a pretty good garden burger.) Junkets to posh locations? Swag? Not exactly my turf.
But it turns out some marketeers don’t discriminate when casting their wide and desperate nets. I spotted the opportunity of a lifetime and I went for it. Some people have lots of money to make their dreams come true. Some of us have to rely on our wits.
And so it is, six months and a lot of typing later, that I am here, high on a bluff at the Malibu Beach RV Park in a 31-foot motor home (a Fleetwood Tioga Ranger, complements of El Monte RV.com), checking off a rather expensive little item on a very short personal bucket list (health and longevity being my numbers one and two).
My computer is humming away on utility power. There is (hot) running water even if you can’t drink it. The Wifi is perfect. I’ve finished my fruit and yogurt; there’s original Dunkin’ Donuts coffee dripping through the coffeemaker. Looking out the window at the distant and uncluttered horizon, my thoughts have far to travel. The word count on my document keeps growing . . .
What could be better?
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I’ll tell you.
Fifteen feet or so away from my seat on the banquette at the aft dinette table (the whole arrangement converts into a set of bunk beds); just beyond the shower/bathroom, the refrigerator/freezer and the kitchenette—where yesterday for lunch I whipped up an incredibly delicious pair of hotdog, bacon and cheese sandwiches—my 18-year-old son, Miles, is asleep in a loft bed above the driving cab.
At the moment the privacy curtain is drawn—the rich maroon color lends the regal feel of a chambre royal. There’s a flat-screen TV on a swing arm, lots of buttons and knobs, even his own skylight; at night we watch movies together up there on the memory-foam mattress, plenty of room for the both of us—with ample space left over for bags of Oreos and Chex Mix and other wonderful junk I’ve laid into the ample storage cabinetry. Now and then as the morning proceeds, as my fingers ply the keyboard, the crown prince will roll over and readjust (the way people do on vacation), causing our land yacht to gently sway. Over these past four mornings I’ve come to relish this odd and slightly vertiginous sensation, a physical reminder that my son is here with me, luxuriant and safe, cossetted within the warm synthetic fabric of the bedding and towel package one of the several PR ladies involved was kind enough to order for us, and in a larger sense, within this ingenious and ungainly home on wheels that shelters and enables our wonderful time together. When Miles moves, I guess you could say, my world rocks. That’s pretty much how it’s been since he entered the world so unexpectedly and pissed on my arm and changed everything.