Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trip: Preface Two

I didn't fly until I was twenty-three. Growing up, we took a melange of vehicles on family road-trips to repeatable destinations; after my parents found a place they enjoyed, we'd return year-after-year. During Spring Break (Dad taught school, so we were lucky enough to have a week off), we'd load up the car
(in rough sequence: white Oldsmobile sedan with the hard-cloth top; off-white van with Captain seats, mood lighting, and a bed/bench seat in the back; Pontiac Bonneville with LED cassette display, and a pathetic cup-holder/trunk-access point that marked the oft-war-consumed border between my younger brother & I; and finally, silver Toyota SUV, with a hitch for a bike rack, rolling rear window used by Dad to fumigate the family when stuck in traffic jams)
and set off for Gulf Shores, Alabama, a sliver of sand just west of Florida's panhandle, more geriatric or middle-aged than nearby Panama City. Or family weeks in bunk-bed filled rooms in North Carolina's Outer Banks, filled with cousins, aunts, uncles, and most importantly, well-sugared cereal that I never got to eat at home. I'd eat Cocoa Puffs until the roof of my mouth went raw.

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Most every year, from 3rd grade till high school, we drove south to Gulf Shores, passing through Kentucky's slow-rolling fields, the limestone cut-throughs of Tennessee, fragrant pine stands & curry-red soil of northern Alabama, the azaleas, low-slung porches, and dirt-lot shrimp-huts near the coast.

Maybe that's why flying still feels a bit bizarre---beyond the obvious of floating in a metal tube across oceans, Continental shelves, entire weather systems. My upbringing (and current mindset & preoccupation) is purely blue-collar. Flying doesn't seem to jibe with that lifestyle, but lately I've been able to set that aside, hold my breath, and take flight. No window seats for me, though, thank you.

Food plays a part in flying, too. Amelia, having flown since she was a child, usually picks at the airplane food, taking a bite or two after it cools from its nuclear-hot state. On the other hand, I do everything but put on a bib. I regard it like state fair food, or movie theatre popcorn, or space ice cream; a strange, rare treat to be consumed in its entirety, regardless of the strange preservatives, gummy vegetables, and half-frozen-but-warm rolls. Even when Amelia found a long, straight hair in her plastic-sealed egg-biscuit...I still finished mine.


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  1. Once the roof of my mouth bled from eating a whole box of frosted Cheerios on vacation (we each got to pick out a special cereal for the trip). It wouldn't hurt to submit this short essay to Lucky Peach or the NYer..

  2. the vehicle list is tight, the italics sections in general are a good way to get across list-like information

  3. Thanks Pete. Glad you dig that formatting. I started doing it...then became attached. I was hoping it would be a good counterpoint to the more concise voice I was trying to develop in the main part of my posting. We'll see if I can keep that thread going.