Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The fall of 1986 I was selling magazines for a school fundraiser, back in the days of going door to door.  Like the usual sucker, I thought I was so cool to be selling magazines.  I was in sixth grade.  Selling magazines was a kind of rite of passage.  It was the big leagues.  It was middle school.  And I was big league, or at least trying to be.

A popular song at the time was "Every Time You Go Away" from Paul Young.  My dad loved that song.  I am not sure why I remember that so clearly.  I remember two songs he has said he really loved, this song and "Rock Steady" by The Whispers.  But Paul Young's song hauntingly stuck with me over the years.

You see 1986 and 1987 blur together in my memories.  It is all foggy.  Because those are the years my parents' marriage fell apart.  Maybe that is why that song stuck with me, because ironically my dad did indeed go away.

My other memory from that time period, the fall of 1987, is going on a dance team competition in Chicago without either of my parents and again at age 12, feeling very big league.  Sitting on the bus, I remember pretending it was my tour bus and we were traveling from town to town.  And I remember it feeling good.  I was free from the fighting of my newly divorced parents.  Free of the sadness of my mother.  

As I daydreamed out my rainy window, I distinctly remember seeing a marquee with "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" on it.  

That night my mother who could barley get off the couch to see me off showed up, to pick me up with a strange man.  Strange at least to me because I had never seen him before.  We rode together in silence and I remember wishing I was back on my tour bus free of this feeling.  Free of this awkward not-wanting-to-be-there feeling.

I went straight to my room and shut the door.  I opened it hoping to share some dance stories, but I opened it just in time to see my mother kiss the strange man.  I quickly shut the door and didn't come out again.  Alone and confused,  I sat in my room. Alone.

Over the next four or so years, I met more of my mother's men.  Some were stranger than strange.  Some were nice...they usually didn't last too long.  Some were too nice and thank god only one made a pass at me.

My dad moved out of state a couple years after they divorced.  
Many holidays were spent flying back and forth, from my mom and my dad.  It was two extremely different worlds.  My father was positive, forward-thinking.  My mother was broken, living in the past. (We didn't grasp the fact that she was sinking into irreversible mental illness at the time of course.)  

My favorite memories of those years are with my brother and sister in Gate-B22 of Chicago O'Hare Airport.  It is there during layovers and flight delays as teenagers that we were able to relax and feel free.  We didn't have to feel guilty about enjoying our time with our dad or feel guilty about resenting our mom.  It was free to be you and me time.  We made up stories about people and told them to each other.  We knew the best pizza place in the airport.

On one particular Thanksgiving as we were flying home, our plane skidded off an icy runway in Nebraska.  The three of us got on a bus to the big city of Omaha and their fancy airport.  There we waited and thought a train was next, but we were spared when the de-icing was successful.  As the over-thinking parent that I am now, that experience would be a nightmare.  But to three teenagers on their own, it was a grand holiday adventure that provided great comic material for our friends.

So, as I prepare for my annual Thanksgiving viewing of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" I am full of emotion.  My husband laughs at me because of course it isn't just a movie, it is more.  Everything is always more with me.  This movie reminds me of some of my saddest childhood moments, but at the same time represents some of my happiest holiday moments with my brother and sister.  And ironically, my dad's favorite song from 1986 is in this movie.  It is the whole package. 

And it is damn funny.  It always has to come back to the funny. For real.

Best f*#@ing scene ever!

And just for fun if you are still reading/watching.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know you are so young! (6th grade in '86)... I thought we were "the same age"... LOL!

    You are so gifted, thanks for sharing your experiences, and many laughs. Love!!