by guest blogger Andeep Singh, documentarian and television and Web video producer
As the parent of an only traveling child, I often wonder what my daughter’s experiences would be like if she had a sibling to share her adventures. Would she enjoy the constant companionship or would she complain that she had to share her iPad?
On a recent flight, I was treated to the witty repartee of a brother and sister duo that included old hits such as, “shut up” and “you’re so annoying!” and my favorite of them all, “don’t touch me with your feet.”
Their skit was surprisingly entertaining, not to mention strangely comforting. It got me thinking about my own brother and the bonds of sibling travel.
My brother and I grew up in the same house with the same parents and the same itineraries, but with very different inclinations for travel and even altitude. He’s 6’3 and I’m 5’3. I often joke that we don’t even breathe the same air.
Our family airplane travel always consisted of his relentless vomiting and my failed attempts at pretending that I wasn’t related to him. On one especially embarrassing (for me) flight, the Air Canada Flight Attendant offered him the canister of oxygen normally reserved for heart attack victims. (Sorry little brother. Consider this reveal as payback for writing on my Cabbage Patch Doll). I would often suggest that he be tranquilized, like they do to elephants, but alas, my parents thought otherwise.
However, nothing builds the bonds of sibling love and eye rolling quite like the family road trip. Our stories would always include one 1982 3-door Honda Civic hatchback (sans radio and AC) and a 1200 mile, 2-day trek from Vancouver to Los Angeles.
My brother, the land dweller, was in his element. He would pile up the toys and blankets in the back seat like he was some kind of king. I, on the other hand, tried to keep the carsickness at bay by plastering my face against the little push out windows, sucking up as much oxygen from I-5 as I possibly could in the days before vehicle emissions testing.
Nothing about the car ride was especially memorable. There were the uninspiring cheese sandwiches my mom packed for us (“Why pay for lunch, when I can make it?” was the Indian mom mantra), bickering and bartering over seat territory, and of course, the requisite parental shushing later replaced with parental death threats.
After several hours in the car, my brother and I had nothing but contempt and apathy for one another. But that would all change somewhere at the Oregon/ California border where we’d pit stop at one of the most budget-friendly motels in America… and we loved it!
Usually the choice of the Singh family was the Motel 6. At the Motel 6, moms didn’t yell and dads didn’t tell us to turn off the TV. And for us kids, it was like a 5-star vacation.
At under $39.99/night, we would all get a room with 2 Queen beds. And for 25 cents, those beds vibrated for 20 minutes! We’d each get a quarter and jump from bed to bed pretending that the floor was quicksand. Jumping on the bed was allowed at the Motel 6, too!
When it seemed it couldn’t get any better, along came the pizza. But not just any pizza… Pizza Hut Pan Pizza. Now, ours was a family of healthy living. We were force fed veggie burgers and tofu long before they were hipster cool, so pizza was like Christmas and Halloween all at once. My brother and I would grab the biggest slices we could lift, huddle up on the bed, turn on the TV and act as if we really liked each other. And in that moment, we actually did.
Twenty-something year later, I realize that somewhere between our departures and our arrivals, my brother and I connected. And perhaps reminiscing about the journey is the perfect metaphor for sibling relationships. In between graduations and jobs and families, we had pizza at the Motel 6. And it was just for us.
Andeep Singh works at the Rodale Video Network and has produced nonfiction television, film, and digital video content for some of the biggest networks in the country, including ABC, NBC, PBS, CBC, and A&E. She recently completed producing her first feature documentary film, titled Living the Fantasy, which follows the lives of six high-stakes fantasy football players. Originally from the Great White North, Andeep has a serious case of wanderlust, is afflicted with perpetual food envy, and is mildly obsessed with the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.