Day 1 Schultz Family East Coast Tour: Richmond, VA

We begin by applying a thick wrapping of electrical tape around the exhaust hose beneath the engine of my Volvo, then hit the road for what will be 365 miles or seven and a half hours of driving.

“Volvos repair themselves,” I say to Dad as we’re pulling out. I offered my car for the family outing because it was either that or the tiny Honda Civic hatchback—and try fitting three adults that are each about six feet tall in that, plus luggage, for over 2,000 miles and you can forget it.

“Oh that’s a new one,” Dad says. “They repair themselves, eh? I like that. Let’s hope it’s true.”

“I’ll bet you two cents it’s true,” I say.

“Why two cents?”

“Because that’s how much money I have after replacing the motor mounts, rotors, and front brakes.”

“You’re on.”

Just outside Danville, I apply electrical tape to the driver’s side signal light, which has always been loose but today started dangling like a tooth on its final, thready root. The mechanic at the gas station where we’ve pulled over looks at me with approving eyes. I nod at him kindly. He must be a Volvo owner, I think.

We roll into Richmond just before dinner time, where my aunt, uncle, and three cousins (ages 15, 13, 11) await all toothy grins and great walloping hugs. The first task at hand? To get back in the car and drive to my middle cousin’s Middle School Star Search Talent Show, featuring 20 finalists—my cousin included—performing under the bright auditorium lights of Pocohantas Middle School.

Later, I unfold in the comfort of central heat, plush carpets, a guest room, and wireless internet. I check email and discover that my advisor returned my packet in record time and is all thumbs up and then some, and I feel like neither of us could be more pleased with the collaboration, growth, and communication we shared this semester.

Onward to sleep and greater dreams. Tomorrow: 450 miles north, mostly on I-95. May the traffic gods be in our favor.

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