The archetypal American tale is a journey. Preferably, out west. My family moved from Atlanta (where this heroine was born) to Denver, when I was just forming persistent memories. But to Grandmas’ houses (Kentucky), we must go! Look at a map. Animate the travel line. From Denver to St. Louis, the mountains are to our backs – it’s the Plains grainy, grassy fields, sloping down from Denver’s high plateau. From St. Louis to Louisville, it’s hilly farmland. Oh, and don’t forget the rivers. We crossed both the Missouri and Mississippi. Brown water, white caps, barges, steel girders with orange sunlight and blue geometric shade. The drive looks awesome from the air – imagine quick aerial shots that lose focus briefly as the camera swerves to the low-slung sun at crepuscular moments. The key point is quick. Real quick. It doesn’t take long for a ride like that to get tedious. Quick aside: My brothers and I were prone to respiratory infections. For some reason, we each had a unique vulnerability. Tom had a mucky nose – allergies, polyps, sinus infections – that dripped into croup or bronchitis. I got sore throats – tonsillitis was a specialty. Charlie was an earache guy. As a consequence, my mom bought an aerosolized version of Vick’s Vapo Rub. In those pre-seatbelt days, we were densely packed into the back seat of a Chevy sedan with blankets, pillows, and every toy we ever liked to fight over. When we’d get fussy – as if that ever happened on a 1100 mile trip! – Mom would turn around and zap us with Vapo spray. The reek of camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus suffused us and all we owned. She didn’t even let the dog sit back with us because she was afraid her chemo-germ warfare might sicken the pup. My dad could normally be relied upon to mitigate my mom’s extreme ideas, but he felt no pity. Turns out he’d been dosed with creo-terpin during whooping cough. What is this hillbilly remedy, you ask? Just the finer flavors of a telephone pole dripping in the sun dappled with notes of paint thinner wafting in and out. No wonder the whooping cough fled. Film can’t convey such wretched scents. And no one would sit through our whining and fussing for a fraction of the time it went on. Not sure how to cinematically treat those car rides – boredom, sibling swatting, and getting sprayed. A cross between Route 66 and a Raid commercial? As excruciating as Eraserhead? John Cage's 4'33"? Dear cinematographer, keep cutting to the blinding sun. At least it’s kind of pretty. And Grandmas? You all were totally worth it.
For April 14, write a poem that takes the form of the opening scene of the movie of your life.