Monday, July 12, 2010
#128 – AWAY
But I talk fast, and she says come on over she will be ready.
And she looked so ready, waiting in that cramped little hallway for me, beside her and old fashioned looking overnight bag that somehow seemed more European than American. We headed off just as if we were deeply connected people at the start of a vacation, not people conducting some sort of ACOA exercise. A happy surprise. But more surprising was that the moment I pointed the Aqua Mustang north I felt a wave of good feeling that went beyond this present time with this girl. Time was timeless and this was just an inevitable trip to the White Mountains. We were going to Vermont and I had said I didn’t think we would get to the White Mountains. But it felt like I was going to the White Mountains. It might have been many years ago.
And if felt at moments like two children off on an adventure. This surprised me a little but not much. I thought it might have to do with there being so much emphasis in ACOA on going back psychically in time. We were going back physically now. Back into the darkness, but maybe looking for light. And I wondered if, as in psychic travel, the aim would be not just to get the story but also to revise or rewrite it.
Gillian did not drive. I decided to go by a faster route than I had followed in the summer. I took the old Palisades Parkway to the New York Thruway, rather than go by what had become my regular route, up the old Taconic and along small roads.
At the first thruway rest stop she came back to the car with an assortment of little things she had gotten from a vending machine in the ladies room – a comb, nail clippers, some sort of gimmicky little key chain. Nothing she needed or would have thought she wanted until she saw the machine. She explained that she had been back from India only since the start of the year, and thus was so fascinated by what was here in America.
We drove on and time passed and I started seeing thruway signs for places whose names I did not know. Amsterdam. Rome. And it dawned on me that I had wound up going west rather than continuing north. How like, Fred. How stupid. Even in this new present.
“The Gran Turismo, Gillian said. That’s what my father said when travel accidentally became wandering. The Gran Turismo.”
So different from my own distant family history in which it was so hard for anyone to live down making a wrong turn. I had almost expected that the wrong turn would make Gillian feel contempt for me. This present that made me as vulnerable as I had been in early life. As if the years in Asia and Africa and Latin America had been mere detours.
So I didn’t have to get to the lake houses fast. I could wander. Then she told me that when he was dying of cancer her father had married a woman from the Philippines. She said she thought maybe a lot of men did that when they needed someone to take care of them. And I knew that she knew that my ex-wife was a Filipina. But I did not react, except inside. And I could tell my rage was still around. I seemed to me that her typing of Filipinas smacked of familiar bigotry. Not to mention her typing of men who needed care. Not to mention opening up the possibility of sadness if I should think long about my marriage and the hope my wife and I had had.
Then quickly back to this present time again, the time of The Gran Turismo. We stop for sandwiches in the every old spa town Saratoga, which is looking particularly 19th century. She points out mansard roofs. Some of these four-sided slanting roofs are on what seems to be very old brick buildings. Others on big, nostalgia-filled clapboard houses, like in paintings by Hopper.
I had been passing through Saratoga for more than a year now, starting with that first trip to the awful party in Littleton. And again now while passing through I thought of costume dramas set in this place, of bare-shouldered ladies who looked liked Vivian Leigh or Gene Tierney, and gambling men with natty spats like Tyrone Power or Clark Gable.
Walking past a thrift store I took her hand.