I met you first when I was six and you were in utero. You weren't there yet. I was six and a half and in Florida on my first vacation by plane. In O'Hare Airport my mother gave me a spoonful of bitter yellow Dramamine and then held me up to the drinking fountain, and the icy metallic water got that bad taste out of my mouth. The medicine made me drowsy, but still I was scared. How will the plane stay in the air, I asked. How will they understand us in Florida鈥攄o they speak another language there. My father, a kind and peaceful man, talked with great faith about engineering matters. He talked as though he personally knew lots of engineers and liked and admired all of them. Engineers were great men, he seemed to be saying. My mother, who tended to scorn things, laughed at my other question. Of course they speak English, it's not another country, she said. Everyone knows that. These answers were pleasant, relieving鈥攍ike that mouthful of cold water after the Dramamine鈥攂ut fleeting. Everything was fleeting.
We took two planes. The first plane was big, and to be in it felt like being in a house. It was not really moving, apparently. I sat between my mother and father in a row of three orange seats and was given a strange pillow that seemed to be made out of paper. We got blue rubber headphones that felt like Gumby and we listened to Bill Cosby. It was odd. Bill Cosby was not talking out loud into the air, but separately to each one of us, only he was saying the same things. We weren't hearing him together and yet we were. We laughed into each other's faces at the same moments.
After that plane we took a very small plane that roared beneath us and seemed to be going terribly fast, just faster and faster, over water. I felt that I was trying to hold on to something, though I couldn't say what. It was getting harder and harder to hold on, the faster and faster we went. We're almost there, we're almost there, the grown-ups kept telling me, not only my parents
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