Friday, October 20, 2006
Look Again, Try Harder
For my mother, there was nothing better than an airport. She loved everything about travel, even the hard parts, the dismal waits and bad overpriced airport food, the occasional mishap (once in Australia, a security person opened her overpacked suitcase to set all of her clothes and curlers and everything springing out and setting everyone to retrieve it like in a comedy routine), her fellow travelers. She'd even like to accompany other people to the airport just to see the planes take off. I like to imagine I can go anywhere, she'd say. She'd strike up conversations with interesting-looking sorts, coming back with travel gossip -- that man has been around the world! Or-- she's going to New Zealand! I'm one of those people who will only speak when spoken to and never with any grace as this setting taps a deeply misanthropic vein for me. My last hideous airport encounter was with three boys, probably in their twenties, but having participated in a level of clean living unknown to me, looked all of ten. We're all about love, the boldest one said. I would have thought it was a pick-up line, but he had the gleam of the convert in his eye, and I knew what I would encounter was going to be far worse than the two dorks who had whistled at me earlier and started singing the classic, "It's getting hot in here/ so take off all your clothes." What's not working in your life, the other boy said. How long do you have? I said. The love cult would not be deterred. Is it a man? Do you want someone to see how incredible you are? I gave him my, Are you fucking kidding me look and then thought, tell me your theory, you disturbed, mentally-challenged ten year old. He started in on how to get love, you have to understand the universe, tap into the center. I've heard a fair amount of stupid shit in my day and apparently that wasn't ending soon. I hope we get to sit together. We could talk all about it during the flight, the quiet one said. I prayed like I have never prayed before -- we did not have seats remotely near one another. There is a God! And He loves me.
While I have never felt particularly at home in the world, my mother became most herself while out in the fray. I can still see her marching through the airport with a digerdoo (an Australian instrument played byAborigine tribes) on her back wrapped in a brown paper bag, looking like a bad-ass at all of her 5'1. Of course, when she got sick for the final time, I went home on a plane and returned the next week, a few days after her funeral. There was a meteor shower that night and the pilot kept urging us to look out the window to see it. I made a half-hearted attempt, but sunk further into my seat, even more demoralized by the fact that I could see nothing. I could hear my mother telling me to look again, try harder, but I didn't have it in me. The night before my mother died, my best friend and I slept in the maternity ward waiting room of the hospital (my sister and father were in chairs in her room). Babies cried all night long. A nurse said, When you hear a scream, it means there's a new life. I suppose that's as good of an introduction to this world as any.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Nothing to me is as erotic as a hotel room and therefore so penatrated with life and death." Paul Theroux, Hotel Honolulu
Drinking movie suggestion: One Trick Pony - - In this campy 70s classic, Paul Simon stars as an unsuccessful musician. Hey, I guess if you can't live that misery in real life, why not do a movie about it? The irony -- the best thing about the movie is the soundtrack by Paul Simon!
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Birthday to my mother.