Dodging Blizzards

March 4th, 2010 § 0 comments

February’s vacation to central Florida was somehow unintentionally timed perfectly between two snowstorms that draped a dense white blanket over the entire east coast. Flying down the morning before the first storm, I was thankful for my last minute decision not to fly the day of the blizzard. I watched instead on television in 70 degree weather as airlines canceled their flights to and from cities waiting for the pending snow. Flying from New York to Florida on a beautifully clear and crisp day, following the coastline like a compass south, allowed me to lust after every strip of beachfront property from Far Rockaway to Daytona Beach.


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Looking Twice

September 21st, 2009 § 0 comments

I remember Chicago the way I imagine I saw it as an 18-year-old girl fresh from the southern California suburbs. Unlike Richmond it has been four years since I have seen Chicago, and it has taken me a long time to make it back. It was surreal, deplaning at O’Hare, to see a place I have forgotten so easily and yet somehow remember so well. My memory of Chicago, or my mis-remembrance of it, has a heightened sense of everything. I remember the city being bigger, busier, scarier, louder, dirtier, harder, more threatening, more overwhelming, more segregated, and much less enjoyable than it now seems. I was amused by how narrow and small the subway cars were, they seemed like toy cars with their fabric seats and tight aisles, and I was dumbly amazed when I stepped off at Logan Sq. and the platform was completely deserted. I can’t remember the last time I saw an empty subway platform that was in service. Much of this, certainly, is the direct contradiction with my current city, but more interesting is the fact that most of what I saw contradicted the images in my memory.


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Just Visiting—A Farewell

August 7th, 2009 § 0 comments

Rode in on the Greyhound but I’ll be walkin’ out if I go
I was just passin’ through must be seven months or more

There are a number of song lyrics that lament about being stuck somewhere, someplace, that you just can’t leave. It is never really the circumstances that are to blame, though a lack of money, purpose, and motivation might factor in, but place itself that catches hold and never lets go. We all can commiserate. I remember being stranded temporarily in the Spanish desert, and feeling that rising desperation as a lack of sleep muddled my comprehension, and as a successful departure seemed more and more impossible to negotiate. Picturing the type of places described in such songs, I see movies concerning small towns, deserted and unlucky in their abandonment—High Noon, Don’t Come Knocking, Northfork—where people kill the town, or the town slowly kills the people. None of these songs or films, however, really describe why certain places are seen as inescapable. Birthplaces and hometowns can be understood this way, as even when you leave them they come uninvited behind you, but not many places can exert this same kind of influence. Wandering Richmond—this past weekend as well as during my visit in April—I wondered if the past, so strongly creeping over the present in this southern capital, lulling you back into a time already lived, could be an explanation for certain place’s sleepy addiction.


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A Garden Wedding

June 11th, 2009 § 2 comments

I am looking out the window of the plane en route to new york. The sun is setting over clouds that have finally stopped shaking the beer can we are flying in, and the view is breathtaking. It is awkward to be so high, but it’s a view I can never resist, and since it will be dark when I fly over the east, I am enjoying the window seat while it still matters.


At the risk of sounding cliché, I can’t help but state that the wedding was truly beautiful. It was everything I think the bride wanted it to be; simple, nontraditional, sentimental, and meaningful. Despite the rebellion my generation instinctively feels toward the traditions of feminine ownership, I understand why we love weddings. Property matters aside, it is a lovely way to come together as a group and celebrate something good. Love, even when it does not last, in the moment that it is true, is a glorious thing to toast—birth, death, and love. The details of weddings only matter because they too are icons of a kind of shared beauty. Flowers, friends, silks and satins are simply the manner in which we reflect a feeling, and our sentiment.

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Train Dichotomies

April 30th, 2009 § 2 comments

“I’m sitting in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination…”

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Other than an old steamer crossing the Atlantic, trains, being much older than the road, might be the most romantic form of travel, and one that remains completely overlooked in this country, romantically and practically. European trains, with stations older than our historic buildings, live up to their myth, and each kind—overnight sleepers, cheap locals chugging through the Spanish desert, efficient bullets whipping between Berlin and Munich, excessively expensive rides through the Channel—exudes a certain stereotype of travel, each appeals to a certain class of passenger. I cling to the notion that traveling poor is the best way to see the underside of travel, as wealth is too warm and insulating. A French flight attendant, walking me through a snoring first class on a flight to Paris, laughingly told me, “it’s a different world up here!” When he brought a first class meal with silver wear and dessert, I had to admit it was. Trains, like buses, are more affordable (or ought to be), and therefore attract a different kind of traveler; most people do not pick the slowest way to their destination because they harbor romantic ideas about trains and passing scenery, but because of price.
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