27 November 2013
With sisters, Chapel Hill, 1966
"Great" is in grateful. "Titled" is in, "entitled." It's all about contrast. A chunky wool tweed against end on end shirting and a silk tie. A potato knish for breakfast and later lunch at the Four Seasons. Then there's the contrast of words: Grateful and entitled.
We're coming up on the day we're all supposed to be thankful. I didn't want to spend that day in Chapel Hill with my family in 1966. Dad was in Vietnam and a friend of mine invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his family. He had a lot to be thankful for. His father owned a number of Esso stations and they were rich.
The ranch house was the length of a football field with a pond in the front and a go kart track around it. The go-kart had a blue and white surrey top and a white vinyl bench seat. And as things go with boys -- his stuff was mine and my stuff was his.
We tore around the pond, lap after lap, stopping only once to refill with gas. I assumed it was free. Speaking of words, I just noticed how beautiful the word 'go kart' is. Anyway, the day had the faintest hint of chill and absolutely no humidity. Not an everyday occurrence in the humid swamp that was Chapel Hill most days.
Outside was better than inside.
A formal dining room with one window seemed dark as death and brown as a coffin. Brown was in the turkey, the iced tea, the Queen Anne dining set and death was in the grandmother who sat at the head of the table. No one talked except the grandmother and I never wanted to hear her again.
After dinner everyone wandered into the living room where the color TV was turned on with a remote the size of a Montecristo No. 4 box. I don't remember what they watched. I only remember it was time to go. The go kart wasn't worth it.
I walked into my tiny house where neighbors and their children were crammed in every corner. It was loud and bright with light. Color slides of French gardens from a neighbors recent holiday flashed on a bare white wall and wine bottles littered our Scandinavian dinner table.
I still see it and I still remember knowing it meant something special. I wanted to be in the light and not the dark. I still do and for that I'm grateful.
Originally posted 23 November 2010