In a summer that has gone from impossibly busy to increasingly odd, I am culminating it with perhaps the oddest thing of all: a flight to Idaho for my 30th high school reunion.
Why, in God’s name, you may ask, am I doing this? For about 10 years, I have hoped for an excuse to go back. I toyed with the idea of taking the spouse and kids on one of those insufferable “this is where I grew up” odyssey. But a) I kid myself not on the spectator value of being physically present while someone’s memory lane unfold, at best an indulgence, at worst, a crashing bore; and b) while one flight to Idaho is manageable on the pocket, just about any flight times 4 is un-. So here I am, typing away in the Minneapolis airport, feeling my first urge to write in over a month
Should you wonder, faithful readers, why the silence, I can only attribute it to an accumulation of various things, including exhaustion physical, emotional, and mental, as well as tetchiness among the immediate family at various times. The spouse’s Savage Mule amusement park ride around the Amazon top 100 (clever plug, eh?) has been at times humorous – as you know, he’s a funny guy – but mostly nerve-wracking for him, and he does not censor the pain. Not fun, but to pretend that it hasn’t been new and unsettling would be to be dishonest; more comfortable, but not good. We are as the Lord made us, so amen and pass the plate; we’ll deal with whatever’s on it
Sitting on the plane, flying over Lake Michigan and Wisconsin, all sectioned and neat like a Grant Wood painting, I wondered what’s in store in the next couple of days. I’m expecting bittersweet at best, but realistically, I don’t think this is going to be a fun trip. But I do think it will be a therapeutic one, and I truly hope it’ll give me the impetus to do a revision of Fly and get the damn thing sent out and published once and for all. Why do I want my novel published when I see the zillions of books a year that are little read and can’t be forgotten because no one remembered them in the first place? I think because I want just a little more reach. I want a book with my name on it. Aw hell, I also think it’s really good and that it’ll break through. I mean, who am I kidding? I just want a shot. And an interview on cable (not access). And wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. That kind of stuff.
Looking around the cabin as we waited what seemed like half an hour to deplane, I found the good people of Minnesota to be stolid and soundly homogenous. Say what one will about Michigan (the spouse certainly has), at least in our neck of the woods it’s nicely diverse. Sure, you see some real fugs, but you always see some fairly interesting looking people amid the predictable base. Here, farther north, lots of skin that should never see the sun is burnt to an uncomfortable pink, with too many freckles and a lot of hair that probably never quite works. The exception is the woman next to me, a gangly specimen with an annoying voice who gives herself a full makeover as we wait. As people begin to move, she shows no sign of slowing down, madly but expertly applying powder, eyeliner, and mascara. Out of the corner of my eye, I recognize application tricks that only a pro would know, so I ask her if she models, and she seems pleased, and replies, “Not any more.” I tell her that I overheard that her kid’s name is Justice; with her brown eyes and dark hair, she bears more than a passing resemblance to my friend Christine, a former model whose child bears the same name. So we have a moment. I feel better having let my initial annoyance with her childish voice pass. Yes, when it comes to magnanimity, I truly am queen
I disboard, find I am in Concourse F and have to hightail it to gate A 10. I walk and walk – how far can it be? – but eventually give in to the lure of the tram. Generally, I try to walk in airports as much as possible, but my carry-on is heavy, so….screw it. I pass way too many insanely young kids in full camo regalia. Why are we sending these children to kill and die? Argh. I have to get used to it. I’m heading to a place where I won’t, if I have any sense, talk politics for days. But sometimes, it’s not so bad to abandon sense….we shall see.
It begins. Unfriendly, stony-faced people. I am in the very back. After 3 overhead compartments taken, I find one and manage to muscle my carry on into it. After a dicey minute, victory is mine. “Yes!” I whisper-cheer, and glance at the fat red-faced man in a gold polo shirt who’s been watching the whole thing. My smile is met with a look that is almost a non-expression, but harbors some disapproval.
What an asshole.
Good preparation, I’m sure. Stay tuned
Emotions and memories are hitting me full force. It’s weird. I’ll just record
The moon is full and blindingly white. The star next to it is the same. No light pollution. I had forgotten how much I missed the night sky here. It’s not far enough north to get the Aurora Borealis, but it’s pretty spectacular all the same
The Idaho Falls airport has barely changed, other than the fact that you no longer have to climb stairs to get on or off the plane; I did see stairs, but there was a tunnel. I’m guessing this is a fairly recent innovation.
Camo girl violently hugs her various family members; about 6 of whom have come to get her. “I Love You,” she says emphatically, to each one. It’s touching and infuriating. There are so many places these kids could work in this country, rebuilding shitty roads, making inner city schools and infrastructures better. But the Glory of Democracy must continue elsewhere.
I remember picking someone up or dropping someone off at the airport around Christmas with Dad, and we listened to Silent Night sung by Barbra Streisand, a Jew singing a Lutheran carol in an almost unanimously Mormon part of the state where snow had just begun to fall. I remember we were both smiling, as if that unlikely but lovely mix were playing just for us.
In the hotel shuttle, Gold Polo asked where Rigby was, and I immediately knew. I haven’t thought of Rigby in probably 25 years. I’ll drive through it tomorrow
The hotel room is dandy, a nice big king. Absolutely nothin’ on TV. Unless of course you count Olympic badminton…
I’m tired and looking forward to having no wake up call. I don’t know how I’ll do with this schedule, but I hope I sleep.