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Don’t Want to Get Too Ambitious

John W. Pinkerton


I've been traveling a lot lately.  Not that kind of traveling.  Traveling in my mind.

It may be senility or maybe just the fact I've barely left the county in over ten years. 

First there was taking care of Mom for six years, and then there's inertia, and then there's this ding-dang pleural effusion.

For years we went to New Orleans every summer.  We felt at home there.  I don't know if I'll ever make it back there.  We're getting pretty old…or at least I am.  Linda seems fine.  I visit there mentally pretty often.  I drive down Conti Street, turn into the underground parking garage at the Royal Sonesta, park in the narrowest of spaces, check in, tip the bellhop, lie on the bed for a moment, wash my face and go out into the adult Disneyland of the French Quarters.  Holy crap!  I'm home.

Back to this traveling I've been doing lately.  I went to the far side of the moon the other day.  It's awfully dark there, but I had a pen light to help me look around a little.  I swear I saw eyes reflected in the darkness.  Decided to return home.  Seemed prudent.

Sometimes I walk down the Champ-Elysees in Paris.  A hundred years ago I actually took this stroll.  There's no reason I can't go back and do it again---Notre Dame, the reflection pool, the sidewalk cafes.  It was and is marvelous…marvelous.

A nightmare trip we took years ago with friends was to Big Bend.  Linda and I will never go again, but I do make a trip mentally to continue a conversation with an old Hispanic fellow who worked there during the construction of the park in the 30's through the day we chatted.  Interesting old guy--- full of history.  Part of his job was to walk the three trails each day to see if any of us visitors made a misstep and couldn't get back to the camp on our own.  I go back to hear more of his adventures as a worker there.  Otherwise, it's just Welch Park (a local park), with mountains.

I don't know why, but I keep showing up at the Taj Mahal.  It's one of the handsomest buildings ever built.  When I go, all I do is stare at the building.  No one speaks to me.  I don't speak Hindi anyway.

Some times I visit my old apartment I shared with my friend Ronnie June “Tumble” Terry my last semester at LSU.  There was a fellow down the street who had a Morgan parked in front of his place.  It's always fall there.  I can feel the cool breeze and hear the leaves rustling down the street.  These visits remind me of how much I liked “Tumble” and how much I've missed him because he passed away so young.

I often visit casinos.  Not any particular one…just casinos in which all the people I remember are there.  One of my favorites was a woman in her mid thirties apparently trying to spend her husband's money without much luck…she kept winning at the dollar slot and didn't mind sharing the glory of it all.  To this day even in my imaginary trips, the folks walking out of the casino always look sad.  Bad attitude.  I've never left a casino without a smile on my face…not that I always won.  It's just loving the sight of the whirling and stars and bars and coconuts or whatever and the louder the machine the better.  Linda is always there, and I'm always saying, “Put another twenty in.”  She needs a little push.

I go back to that morning in my first dorm room on the main campus.  It was in North Stadium.  I awake again, late for my favorite class, hearing the leaves being pushed around in circles on the concrete four floors below.  Life is good.  Maybe the best moment of my life.

I go back to a date I had while in high school.  I drive my date to a place I had scouted which had millions of fireflies.  If there was ever a romantic location, that was it.  You're right.  I didn't score.  Nice girl though.  Now when I go back, I go without her.  I just enjoy the fireflies.

Occasionally I go back and relive some of my times in the service.  It's as though I am experiencing those times for the first time.  Most times were pleasant, some just tolerable and other times just plain old stupid.  Well, at least the Russians didn’t take over the place while I was there.

Funny thing.  I don't go back to my teaching days or my librarian days except for the funny stuff like when a rather large lad managed to spread the legs of his desk so that he ended up on the floor or the time a girl in my class was giving me the Dickens  about some great wrong I had done her and I responded, “If you keep this up, you're going to hurt my feelings.”  The most pleasant trip I take to school is to visit with a group of young male teachers who were sharp as tacks and funny as Hell.

After a year and a half, I'm a little encouraged by the state of my pleural effusion.  Step by step, inch by inch, it's getting a little better.  Who knows?  It may not be the death of me after all.

If it's not, I may actually leave my house for a few days.  A casino would be fine.  I don't want to get too ambitious.