Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time Travel

On my trip to Pennsylvania in early May to pick out my puppy I was struck by how familiar the landscape felt as I drove away from Harrisburg Airport.

I was born in Johnstown PA - about two hours from Harrisburg - but I didn’t live there for long, my Dad's goal was to get his family out of coal-mining country, having promised his dad he would never go into the mines.
I spent a lot of time traveling back there to visit relatives, strapped into the backseat of the family Chevy Suburban, listening to my siblings argue, playing Punchbuggy!, or trying to catch bits of my parents conversation about my 'Crazy Aunt Betsy' (another post, another day).
It was surreal to be the driver this time, surrounded by the landscape of my earliest memories.

My satellite sister-Daisy called me when I was about an hour from the airport, downright giddy about my arrival. Daisy is the kind of friend that can get over-the-moon-happy about a dandelion growing in the corner of her yard, but somehow it doesn’t diminish the joy she feels over bigger issues. Her joy is the infectious kind; and so utterly genuine you can’t help but get caught up in it. That’s a special kind of happy in my book. I don’t own that kind of happy, and it feels really good to be a part of it even just for a few hours.

It was a whirlwind trip for me, we spent a few hours with the puppies, had dinner together, and after a little more visiting, I drove back towards the airport to find a hotel closer to the airport; no one should have to get up at 4 am to catch a flight that isn’t actually ON the flight.

I’m lucky enough to have friends like this, scattered here and there around the country, people that will drop everything to spend a few hours over a cold beer or a litter of puppies just to see me and catch up.

I imagine when I drive into Pennsylvania I’ll always feel my father’s presence, hear the noise of a Chevy Suburban packed full of kids, the CB radio squawking under the dash in between my mom and dad. I like it that my first Pennsylvania memory as an adult involved these friends, puppies and a landscape that reminds me of how I was able to leave, who I owe for that, and that I could make it back here, the person I am today.


Roo said...

trips to ohio are good too....

Cravey said...

Roo - Of that I have no doubt.
New adventures are always worth the trip even when there's donkey bbq.

Anne said...

What a great story. It's rare when a person gets to go back to a childhood place and have it be a happy experience. (Sometimes it's depressing.) I'm happy for you.

I agree, more road trips! :)

handy said...

'If I have my druthers' (taken fro my dad's mouth and my childhood memories), road trips would be my vacation every year. Unfortunately, I can't even plan ONE with my goofy schedule!

I, myself, was born a Pennsyltuckian but not in the coal mine part of the state. Not far away, though.... ;)) This story reminds me that I don't get up there often enough.... Forgive me Dad and Mom.....

JustRun said...

This is a great post. It's good to go back.

utenzi said...

That's a good example of time travel, JC. A bad example would be a movie I saw this weekend. It's good that you did your PA trip back in May--it's just too hot for traveling right now.

roo said...

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tiff said...

A few years back I went on a raod trip to upstate NY, where I spent several formative years. As I drove onto my street, a FLOOD of memories took me by surprise, not the least of which was "I've never DRIVEN on this street before." Weird and wonderful, and somehow I wish I could tap the little girl I was on the shoulder and tell her about who she grew up to be. :>

Also, YAY for good friends!!!

kenju said...

I just spent 4 days where I grew up, and I know what you mean! So many memories for me, and even though you were there in Pa. only a short time, you had the family vibe again. Good for you. It's good to go back, even though Tom somebody said you can't go home again.

wordnerd said...

Awesome post, Jen. I agree with Anne -- lots of visits home don't evoke the same thoughts as you have. Good for you!