I wish I could fly and other summer musings

The heat and rain have presented themselves in such alternating abundance this season, that the watermelon container garden is lovely with big leaf greenery… Fruit to come?

~dare I hope. The kale has been harvested once and was better than any from the store. Summertime does not mean vanity to me. I don’t fear the sun because having a wrinkly sun damaged face scares me. Nor do my “age spots” or “sun freckles” disturb me. Although one of them is incredibly itchy and must be removed. I don’t think the temporary “healthy” look of tanned skin is worth it. I’ve known too many who’ve gotten skin cancer. Climate changes make tanning more dangerous than ever and tanning beds can age and kill you too. ANY time the skin changes color, well that’s damage. 

I can do without water balloon fights, water parks, etc. etc. But summertime got me to thinking of the roadside attractions my parents and I visited when I was growing up…

storyland_postcard2

OK this was a theme park in upstate New York, but I remember pop-up zoos, giant Paul Bunyan statues and other odd roadside must-sees. My little family (the parents and me) left every summer for a trip to Storyland, FrontierTown, Ruggles Mine, Santa’s Village, Jungle Safari, Great Adventure, Riverside Park, Sterling Forest, Lake George wax museums, Howe’s Cavern, Niagara Falls, Mystic Seaport, Catskill Game Farm, or camping, and other excursions. This is StoryLand today, quite abandoned:

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I love pictures of abandoned amusement parks. The pics evoke a melancholy. Nature will claim everything. I have always wanted to travel Route 66, now there are some roadside attractions I would be amused by. From Fodor’s Travel Guide, here is but one, 

I understand people (tourists/travelers) add their graffiti atop previous graffiti infinitum.

3-13-Weird-Wacky-Attractions-Route-66-Cadillac-Ranch

In summer I am reminded of how much I would love to fly. When I was 12 or 13, I bought my first long playing record album. It was Heart and I fell asleep with the record on continuous play. I ended up having a dream during this. In this dream, I was on the greenest lushest side of the grey house, the portion of lawn where the grass grew thick and healthy over the septic tank. I was flying, dipping in the air to the song “Dog and Butterfly” that was playing as I slept. A puppy in the dream jumped and tried to playfully nip me as I flew down, and a butterfly accompanied us both all over the yard. Thinking of this recently, (because the grass needed a mow)  I was reminded of my Chapter FLYING, which is an excerpt from my book Under The Banana Moon. I’ve copied that link for my book to this blog post below. If you have not read my book, this is a new writing for you, if you have read it, well here is that chapter again:

Flying

In the niches of nature, elves commingled in cranny halls. In the great scheme of things crows were undertakers for road- kill. Binghamton and Thaddeus were the elves who lived under our refrigerator. I believed in them and I believed I could fly.

 

“Call the TV station!” I hollered, after my mother told me that my favorite cartoon Marine Boy had been cancelled. Little did I know, but she made up this ruse so she could watch her soaps which came on at the same time as my cartoon. She admitted this when I was much older.

“Hmmph. You think I have the TV station’s phone number layin’ around, kid?” she said, never looking away from the TV.

            I paced the swirls of the braided rug like a soldier on patrol. I folded my arms; then started flinging them. Could my dear mother not tear herself away from her program to help me in this time of crisis? This was war! Why could she not see the harsh injustice? “Mommy you’re not helping! Think! Then what’s the TV station’s address? We’ll write a letter – complaining,” I urged her. “If kids love it, they CANNOT take it off the air.”

All she could say was, “Ha! Maybe it’ll be on in reruns someday and”-

“They can’t do this,” I persisted. “They can’t cancel a show kids love.” I circled the coffee table, slowing down directly in front of the television screen every time I passed it. “It was Starr’s favorite show too.”  Pace, pace, round the table. Now she couldn’t see her show.

“Sometimes they take programs off the air for no good reason,” she said, straining around me to see a television kiss.

I had stopped pacing and was standing right in front of the TV screen, trying to block her view. “Not MY program!” I yelled. Something smelled fishy in Denmark as my father would’ve said. I couldn’t understand why my show disappeared like this. It had been a much looked forward to time of day for me.

She craned her neck to see around my body and snapped, “Do you mind?!”

“I know! You can probably get the TV station address from the TV Guide! I need an envelope. They’re not getting away with this.” Pace, pace, round and round the coffee table.

“Go outside and do something. Go run around and get some fresh air. I’ll look for the address later,” she said and waved me away.

“Reeally?” I asked.

“Ppbbbfffffttttttt!” She slouched and made a sound like a balloon let go in the air, unknotted.

“Fine. But we have to get a letter in the mail as SOON as possible. This is very important,” I told her. “Oh,” I went on, “I need two paper bags for wings.”

“Then will you let me watch my soap in peace?” she asked.

I nodded; quite confused as to why kissing shows were called soaps. Someday I would study word origins. “I can’t believe they took off the best, bestest, bestestest show on TV!” I said. Five minutes later, I was dashing through the hallway, (trying not to see the pink sparkles on the shelf) with my new wings in place!

I flapped and turned and bent; ‘flying’ over the gravel yard. “Watch closely Mommy! Keep watching! This time I’m takin’ off! I almost did!” I called as I ran.

She stood at the door with her hands on her aproned hips and called in her sing-song voice, “If you don’t fly in two more minutes I’m going back to my program!” She meant it. She was looking at her watch.

Every time I set out to fly, and that was often during the summer, I was certain I would. With the paper grocery bags over my arms, I ran with my head high. I flapped, and they ripped and I was back in the house often for replacement wings.

“Here, try these smaller bags from the drug store,” said my helpful mother who had a ready supply of replacements because we didn’t throw anything away.

There was no ‘away’.

She handed me two white bags, the kind from the pharmacy. Color had something to do with it. Hmmm, when I slipped them on, they didn’t even reach my elbows.

“These might be too small. But I’ll try,” I frowned.

Teetering with the soles of my red sandals on the edge of the picnic table, I willed myself to catch an air current and soar like a flying squirrel. Thud! I hit the ground solidly with my knees. Should’ve kept my eyes open, I thought as I picked gravel out of indented skin. I ran across the yard and ever so gently I rose up; to the tip-most of my toes. My feet would dangle in air soon, I just knew it- as I rose up, up! The arches of my feet strained, stretched… I ran on tip-toes.  I would lift, soar, FLY! 

The neons flickered above the bar across the highway and over the hot dog joint. With melting stealth the day’s light dripped away into the early evening.  The sun sat in pinks on the horizon line. My mood sat in sludge. I would not fly today. What’s more, everything about me hurt, from the arches of my feet to the scratched up knees, to the underneath part of my arms from the stretching and flapping.  Mostly my pride hurt. I slammed into the entry hall.

I forced myself to see the bunched up fabric, the silk near the charcoal bag. The hot pink sequins on the fabric on the top shelf. Who painted all those shelves that flat depthless pea-green anyway – green upon green upon green, paint so thick, layer upon layer of paint that if you peeled it, it was a quarter inch thick. She was in the living room, where the flowered couch was new; from Grants department store.

The flowery couch hugged me, grabbed at me, as if I was meant for roots and not for wings and so I despised the couch, which would be “repossessed” in a few months anyway, unbeknownst to any of us. The couch was an aunt at a wedding you didn’t want to see and you didn’t want to be accosted by. Give me the dapper reserved uncle who is a tad uncomfortable any old day. I ripped up my paper wings and threw the pieces down to mingle with the gray and black swirlies on the linoleum. It could’ve been an abstract masterpiece, those scattered papers on the floor but I was too disgusted to allow myself to see a basis for what could be a future drawing or scribble. I could do many things with my hands. I could usually create any pattern or thing that I was looking at; but what I wanted was to know what it was to have that same command over my body, over my expressions, moods and voice. I wanted to know poise and grace; wanted to move like a ballerina with cat feet and soft velvet underfoot, wanted to soar and twirl high in the air, un-tethered. I would not be a ballerina. I would not fly. But the feeling of wanting to do so did not ever subside.

“Well? Did you fly today?” my mother asked; raising her brows and peering over her crocheting glasses. I said nothing at first.

How could I explain with words how close I’d been this time?

Yeah, I’d been close this time to flying over the grey house to rescue the rocket and the ball from the roof that’d been up on the shingles for so long. So close to gliding on air lightly like a feather, dipping over the living highway and looking down over the fuzzy blue treetops in the distance- seeing in them some nests with my lost hair ribbons braided into them. Of course those trees were shades of green in the distance; not really blue; I knew that. The nests that would be in the far away trees when I flew to them would have had unhatched eggs. This and more I imagined when I longed to fly.

 I flew today; I should tell her.  I should say that yes I flew above the bar and saw nests behind the neon letters. Moths, June Bugs, and ‘barflies’ all met at the neon “Benny’s Inn” letters above the bar entrance which I could see across the highway from our house. I flew with the insects above the glowing letters…saw the sign close-up as I flew around- the buzzing neon ‘B’, the big ‘I’ that flickered and hummed and all the other cursive letters. But I told her the truth instead.

“No. I almost took off. I don’t think the wind was right,” I said.

“Well, you can’t say you didn’t try, that’s for sure,” she smiled.

“But I almost did leave the ground this time. Prehistoric birds climbed cliffs and then they jumped into air currents and they glided. And they must’ve been heavier than me,” I informed her. “And heavy planes stay up somehow!”

“Don’t even think of jumping from any cliffs, kid!” she warned.

“So- I think its all in the wings. I know! I’ll take apart that souvenir Indian headdress we got from FrontierTown and I’ll staple the feathers to the bags.  Next time I’ll fly! And don’t walk away from the door at all. I don’t want you to miss it. Got that address? We have to get that program back on the air. They don’t have the right.” I said, rising for pen and paper.

I was ten years old then and I couldn’t know it but in four short years I would meet my life partner.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–END OF MY BOOK EXCERPT

Summer is welcome in the east, where winter holds on stubbornly and spring is fleeting. One day I will travel farther than here, because isn’t that what I was doing in the dog and butterfly dream, when I felt I truly was flying? Experiencing the world from a different perspective. When you are ten, even if you read all the encyclopedias for fun and collect travel brochures, it is still hard to imagine that the world you know is so much bigger than what you know. I could imagine my hair ribbons in far away nests, and I could imagine bugs and bug poop and bird nests behind the bar’s neon signs, imagined so deeply that it was almost as if I was really flying. I imagined Ireland too, and stone walls in the U.K. This quote from John Meloncamp:

“I am 65 years old. I can see the finish line from here. I’ve only so many summers left. I intend not to waste any being old.”

Sounds good.

—my book is here:

 

Or contact me, I’ll send you a signed one.

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