Saturday, October 8, 2011

Time traveling, conclusion

Is it possible to be nostalgic for something that happened about 30 years ago? Does more time have to pass to give it meaning?

I suppose it's possible. I mean, I'm kind of nostalgic for the club sandwich I had yesterday at The Bistro at Childress Vineyards, so I guess I'm answering my own question.

But what I'm getting at is that we've about reached the logical end of this memory tour through my time.

And the perfect ending must include my wife, Kim.

We met about 33 years ago, actually, at The Dispatch, where I worked. She was a temporary employee, filling in for a typesetter who was on maternity leave. I was a grizzled veteran of The Dispatch, in my third year with the paper. Kim caught my attention with her soft features, strawberry blond hair and a languid Southern accent she claims she doesn't have but which I could not resist, and I was hooked. We had a whirlwind romance, and in slightly more than a year we were married.

And we're still married, in spite of the fact that our fall foliage honeymoon to New England detoured us to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, among other places. In fact, we just celebrated our 31st anniversary last week. I'm not quite sure how this happened because she doesn't much care for sports, yet she married a sportswriter. Maybe it's a flaw in one of our characters, I don't know. But it's a flaw that apparently works.

Our marriage survived one other extreme vacation, too. That happened in 1992, when we decided to take two weeks to visit my brother, David, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Kim had never flown before, and wasn't excited about the prospect of flying. So we decided to take the trip by train. Or, at least half the trip. We took advantage of Amtrak's Air-Rail program, where you take the train to your destination point, and then fly back. I knew we were only postponing the inevitable, but I wanted to do this. No other family member has visited my brother in Alaska.

The train from Greensboro to Seattle took three-and-a-half days, which was about a half-day too long — especially when you're taking sponge baths out of the sink. But we still had to fly from Seattle to Anchorage.

This was about the only time I actually thought the marriage had ended. Our seats were at the back of the plane, near the engines of the 737, and all was fine as we taxied out to the runway. But when the pilot throttled back for take-off, Kim gripped the seat handles so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Tears were involuntarily (I think) falling from her eyes. I just knew we were doomed as man and wife.

It took her an hour before she looked out the window to see us flying above the carpet of clouds.

But gradually, she corralled her fears. Our trip to Alaska, complete with glaciers, sea otters and eagles, was saved, and so, too, was our marriage (I think).

This pretty much brings us up to date in a meaningful way. No doubt there's other stuff worth remembering in the past 30 years or so, but I'm not sure enough time has passed to make it truly memorable, or better than it actually was, which is what I think nostalgia really infers.

I guess that explains why I suddenly have a compelling urge to blow out a smudge pot.

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