Hitchhiking Is Great Until Mom Finds Out

Sometimes I think because I’m 21 I can’t really get in trouble with my parents anymore. I’m an adult, I can make my own decisions, right? Not only did I graduate college last week, I even bought my own plane ticket the other day. That’s got to be worth a few adult points.

On a deceptively pleasant Sunday afternoon, I found out getting in trouble with Mom is definitely still a thing.

A few weeks back nine of my family members were in Tallahassee for a football game. On Sunday we sat down for lunch at Midtown Caboose—a spectacular burger joint in town—for a meal before leaving town. 

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My roommate Forrest joined us and my Grandfather quickly jabbed at him.

“If you tell us a story that gets Jordan in trouble, I’ll buy your lunch!” Grandpa smirked.

Not one to pass up a free meal, Forrest willfully obliged.

I squirmed helplessly as he unraveled the story of a hiking trip on the Appalachian trail back in August of 2014.

We hiked 30 miles over three days, but instead of a route looping us back to the car we left parked on the side of the road, we ventured in a straight line towards an outdoor center in the middle of nowhere. Emerging from the woods a few days later, slightly disheveled and longing for a hot meal, we didn’t have a solid return plan.

So (he asserts this was my idea) we put our thumbs up to try hitching home through the mountainous backroads of North Carolina.

We hopped in the cars of 4 strangers that day.First it was woman in her Prius who had hiked the whole AT a few years prior and even met her now-husband along the way. She married him 11 days after their first encounter and is still happily married with a four year old daughter at home.

IMG_0471.JPGAfter she left us a few miles down the road it was a bounty hunter who warmly welcomed us into his truck. A real friendly guy who recounted a story of chasing Meth dealers in the ditches of South Georgia a couple weeks prior.

An elderly man passed us, stopped, and proceeded to reverse about a hundred feet to offer us a ride in his ‘ole pickup truck. We relaxed in the bed as he putzed down the windy mountain roads at a leisurely, old-man pace for 45 minutes or so.

Finally, we accepted a ride from a husband and wife who offered us  the trunk of their Honda Odyssey, their two daughters riding in car seats in front of us. They brought us all the way to the Accord, many hours after we first pointed our thumbs towards the sky.

It was one of the best adventures of our lives and I’ve never regretted it, but I also never told my parents because I knew they’d be upset. 

I figured I’d wait until I was financially independent enough to clue them into such things. Chalk it up in the “young and dumb” category. Something I “surely wouldn’t do again.”

Forrest ruined that one and Mom wasn’t happy.
But I think she’s recovering alright.

There’s something to be said for taking advantage of the moment and figuring out answers as you go. For embracing uncertainty as a reason to laugh and live in the moment. Making memories and leaving margin in life for the unexpected detours.

Rarely does a story worth telling emerge from a plan perfectly executed.

However, safety is important too. I’m not discounting the necessity of being smart and cautious. And so we’re left with this balance between risk and safety that is exactly that, a balance.

I think it’s healthy and necessary to live in the tension between the two if I’m to go anywhere worth going.

There are certainly times I’ve clung too close to either side.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that getting in trouble with Mom is definitely still a thing. And (as a consolation, I think) Grandpa paid for my lunch that day, too.

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