France Journal: June 3, 1996

Saturday 3 June 1996

PB130146As I sit here in the warm plane, I just think how wonderful today has been.  I woke up at 6:30 and got ready to go.  I then watched Good Morning America.  At around 8:00 we left.  We stopped by Albertson’s and then to the airport.  It was great.  I had no idea what I was doing and Ann was no better off.  I got situated and we stopped for something to eat.  For eats we found a $3.00 slice of pizza and a $2.00 “deal” of fruit and 2 beverages for $3.00.  It was okay though.  About 10 minutes after getting our food, Stan shows up with some magazines for me.  He got People and US.  After a little bit, we went to the gate, located my group and after an embarrassing underwear question from Stan we were off.  I got on the sardine can of a plane and was a little nervous but as soon as we got going my fears had subsided somewhat.  Taking off was the most exhilarating feeling.  We were off — destination: Atlanta.  I could see nothing.  I was on an aisle seat.  We stopped and got off.  We had no idea how far we had to go but we caught a subway type vehicle which took us to where we wanted to go.  We got on; the plane was much larger.  It was a lot more fun but I was already used to it.  We had heard of some rain in New York, but what I saw was sunshine a clouds below.  As we descended through the clouds the wings appeared to be slick and then water droplets started on the windows.  When we got to the ground it was a messy rain, wet and soggy.  I noticed as I got out that luggage is treated very poorly.  Better bring souvenirs back on plane!  We got off and noticed immediatly that the airport in Atlanta was much prettier and had a larger Delta wing.  We just walked right to the gate and then went and ate.  I had breadsticks and a drink for $3.00.  We shopped at all the places and went back to the gate and waited for our flight to board.  There a lady walked up to us and asked if we were Mme Wright’s group.  It was Linda Dobbs!  She is the new leader.  She acts real nice.  We get on the plane and I am sitting next to a pro!  She goes right to sleep.  I sleep a little and then dinner is served.  It was a shrimp meal.  It was wonderful.  I never thought I’d like airplane food.  Wow.  And now I’m on my way.  In the morning we will have a continental breakfast.

» 27 August 2007

Mme Wright, our French teacher had very recently suffered an aneurism.  Everything had been planned and paid for.  After a meeting with all of the parents, it was decided that we should go on our scheduled tour, but be under the supervision of the leader of the group we were going to be with.  Even Mike Wright, Mme’s son, went on the trip with us.  We started the trip with 4 groups.  There was our group from Stillwater, OK, Mme Dobbs’ group from Caldwell, Idaho, a group from Wagoner, OK, and a group from Cincinatti, OH.  The Wagoner and Cincinatti groups were both on a one week tour; Stillwater and Caldwell would continue on for another week after that.

I was in awe of air travel.  It seemed so exotic to me, as I had never been on a plane before.  At the airport in Tulsa, Stan took the only picture of me that I would get on the entire trip.  That is one of the biggest regrets I have of my life.

JFK airport seemed dirty to me.  While we waited there, we were approached several times by “deaf-mutes” selling trinkets.  The entire place had a very grey feeling about it, as if nobody really wanted to be there.  The heavy rains blocked our view, concealing my first and only glimse of the New York skyline.  I could just make it out, like a Magic Eye picture, only if I relaxed my eyes and titled my head slightly.  And then, only the twin towers reminded me that this was New York City and not just a mound of something in the distance.  I felt cheated out of an experience, even though I was not really in New York and would not be going there; I still wanted to see it since I had gotten so close.

» 5 March 2016

19-vintage-photos-that-show-what-new-york-city-looked-like-in-the-1980sAs a kid, I always assumed I would end up living in New York as an adult.  It was just a part of the plan.  Maybe that assumption was a result of movies and TV.  There certainly is a New York / L.A. bias that runs periodically through entertainment.  Television in the nineties was certainly New York-centric, and that likely influenced who I imagined I would be.  However, my love of the city had definitely started earlier than that.  I particularly remember segments on Sesame Street featuring city workers and trucks, traffic and streets crawling with people.  If I was exposed to those videos for the first time today, I would focus on the dirt or the noise.  I wouldn’t care for it.  But at the time it felt magical, very different from my decidedly non-urban life in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The reality would be that as of 2016, I’ve never been to New York.  My trip to France was my first and only time in an airport in the state, and it was so rainy I could just barely make out the city’s skyline.  What I failed to appreciate at the time was the gritty nature of the airport, a feature that wouldn’t last.  I say appreciate because it was a unique experience and I have always enjoyed unusual experiences.  As long as it isn’t causing me harm, I enjoy being in new places and in new situations.

I haven’t thought much about Atlanta, or hadn’t much when I was a kid.  Sure, I watched Designing Women, but that hardly shows anything of the city where it takes place.  It came as a complete shock when I first saw the size of the city.  It was a trial by fire as we were rushed from one plane to the next.  While we weren’t in Georgia for long, it certainly reminded me of one of those cartoons where a small guy holds open a door for someone and an enormous crowd piles in as well, leaving the poor guy startled and disheveled.  All of us from Stillwater rushed our way through the airport and onto the next plane.

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