Tomorrow I’m going to fly south through (hopefully) friendly skies. Over stick-figure tree skeletons way down below. Perhaps the sun will set through our jet window. We’ll pass across the snowy vista of the Upper Peninsula and head south across Lake Michigan. I will peer from the afternoon window and imagine my blogging friend Cindy on Beaver Island.
Staring down through the window, perhaps watching the sun set out of the right side of the airplane, I will look for familiar landmarks in Lower Michigan. Could that be Traverse Bay? Could that be Houghton Lake? Could that be my hometown of Yale in the Thumb out the left?
Of course, it’s all impossible to truly ascertain where a person might be from such an elevated vista. That lake might be Higgins Lake. When you think you’re in the Thumb–well, you might be passing Lansing. Which is OK, because that’s where I graduated from journalism school a thousand years ago. And where is Ann Arbor down there below this beautiful plane? That’s where our son attended college a long time ago. Yes, memories live below the airplane’s path. Memories of corn fields, long-ago beaches, delightful coffee shops, Chinese restaurants.
I want the plane to announce the memories, one by one, but the plane will fly impartially over everything headed for Detroit. Once the plane lands in Detroit–if there’s time–I will scurry through the tunnel toward PF Chang’s for dinner. I will call my mom who lives two hours from the airport just to say “Hi, how are you doing? I love you.”
Another plane shall be boarded and up, up and away we’ll go. This time the terrain is spotted only by random memories, so I’ll put in ear buds and perhaps watch a movie. Wondering what movies are good these days.
We’ll travel three hours south to Fort Myers. I will drag my suitcase down toward the taxis and outside it will feel like heaven, yes heaven, after this northern polar vortex. I will drape my heavy wool coat over an arm and dance up to the taxi booth and announce the need for a taxi to the Beach.
And off we shall go, the taxi driver and I. He’ll be from Puerto Rico or Jamaica or Nicaragua or downtown Fort Myers or Chicago and he’ll tell me his life story. Sometimes he won’t. Sometimes he’ll be silent and I’ll glide along in the taxi’s back seat without saying anything. Other times we’ll chat endlessly and I’ll learn about his family and when he moved to Cape Coral and whether he knows how to get to our condo.
We’ll drive past CVS Drugstore, just past Santini Mall, and toward the condo my mom owns. Where I’ve been visiting these past 25-30 years. Where our kids played Marco Polo in the swimming pool. Where Chris locked us out of the unit when he was barely twelve years old. It will be dark when the taxi pulls in. I will punch in the secret code and ride the elevator upstairs. My mom got stuck in that elevator many years ago.
This will be the last week I will spend at the condo that has helped shaped this life. My mom is selling and my assignment is to empty out personal effects.
It will be a bittersweet week. I have never been at the condo without my mom. (She’s doing fine in her home in lower Michigan, but has decided she’s not traveling to Florida again. She’s 86 years old now.) My brother and his wife own a place nearby so maybe we’ll go boating some fine afternoon after I’ve boxed up items for Goodwill or my mom.
I’ll perhaps walk the “Kathy walk” alone. It’s a walk through the bird sanctuary named for me, although heaven knows why. Years ago my mom and I walked it every day, every trip. She hasn’t been able to make the walk in recent years. My dad used to meet us at the Outrigger restaurant for coffee. My daughter sometimes accompanied us.
It will be a trip rich in memories. I may share more this week if inspired. IF I’m not too busy taping boxes shut. IF there’s time to share a photo or two. If not–thanks for accompanying me virtually on this goodbye trip. We may still fly down to Fort Myers Beach to visit my brother and wife, but it’s goodbye to a sweet part of my life.