From L.A. to New York. From New York, to L.A. There I am, in a shoulder-padded cream blouse and red rah-rah skirt, pirouetting around on the spot in my gold lame Manolos, clicking my heels together on a sunny Manhattan sidewalk.
The Park Avenue pampered pooches whizz by with their Gucci doggie coats, the yellow taxis honking their horns float up in the air, the passports flitter open, the rental car twists at a ninety-degrees angle.
The Californicated hills and beach side melt up into a heatstroke haze against the dry brittle earth on the prairies, as a gun tootin’ Billy The Kid smiles and saddles off into the distance.
There’s Ali sparing with Tom Cruise, shaking his cocktails, with a jump-suited million dollar jewelled Elvis crooning his hunka hunka Burning Love inside a wooden barrel about to tip over the top of a white ghosted Niagra Falls. And all the while the slot machines ding out their noise-less tunes into my ears.
Everything’s a blurred memory, dollars, kids asking for ice-cream, sunglasses, an aeroplane speeded up flying from the top of the Rockefeller Centre across the white picket fences of Rhode Island, to the lush Irish green fields of a misty, sodden new-born wet morning in Dublin’s fair city.
And all the while, I mutter: “there’s no place like home – there’s no place like home.” The disco lights and the glitter ball fade and I am Cinderelled into jeans, t-shirt and pullover, sitting at the computer in my weak-morning-watered-sun front room in Dundalk.
I’m tapping my finger on the mouse. There’s an e-mail from Auntie Attie in sun-drenched Long Beach, California. She wants to know when the flight got in? I note – just two exclamation marks today – she’s only half-excited from the entire goings on. “Keep your sanity!” she signs off. But I’ve already lost that, gone in the tornado of a self-induced mid-life crisis.
I look over at the worn AA Roadmap of the US and feel lost, for the first time in a long time. We’re only home a wet week from the US, having driven 5,474 miles across country from West to East.
We did this in 6 weeks in a seven seater RV, and took our two children – Aoise (8) and Edward (4) along for the ride. Why did we do it? One reason was to go to a family wedding in L.A. but the real one? Because it was there, the recession was here, and despite my nervous approach to most things, I like to think that you only get one life, and you should see as much of the world as possible.
We didn’t have much money, some savings came in handy and we had worked hard for this trip. But once the decision was made, that is, I said ok - hubbie had gone to the library and got the AA Road Map of America – The Lonely Planet Guide to the US – an assortment of books about LA, Las Vegas and New York.
He'd made a little home for them under his side of the bed, and there they stayed – regularly coming out, pock marking the house – sometimes opened up in a flurry of excitement – like little pills of happy pages – rays of sunshine into our half-decorated and mad-cap home.
Needless to say – my face during all of this had turned nasty shades of yellow – then back to white. Before this I was never one of life’s adventurers - barely mustering up the excitement of going to the shop for milk. Usually that ritual involved getting the make-up on, running a comb through my hair, finding the car keys and so on. I was not known for my drop-everything-at-a-moment persona. The thoughts of doing a running jump into the car sort of thing like Starsky and Hutch, would not have be me.
In fact I rarely adventured past the imaginary electric fencing of County Louth, unless it was an emergency. Stress here on the word was. Eddie is the opposite. His claim to fame is that he "got me out of myself." Whatever that means. Possibly something to do with his insistence on our first holiday (Kos) all those years ago, that there was a life away from the pool.
I have become more adventurous as I approached the big 40. No reason why though. Possibly due to more time and that the children are past the toddler stage where I spent many days bent over, like a Neanderthal, holding their tiny hands – walking them past the neighbours hedges, the top of my head the only visible sign of life.
We have thrown aside the cosy lying down by the pool and beach holidays – it rained on the last one in Alvor, Portugal. Instead we have plumped for the bright lights and big cities. Rome was a change of scenery last November. At the time the scream went up from all and sundry: “You can’t take the children with you!” Reasons being, Rome was a mad place. Then by our reasoning, so was Dublin – Cork even, but people still brought children there!
Rome was fantastic – we saw the sights and inbetween made unforgettable memories. The trick was to have breakfast early, get out, home and dinner. And it worked.
This summer was to drive from LA to New York. And we started our journey off in Long Beach, going to explore the delights of Hollywood. Then it was on to Yosemite National Park, with its: “second highest waterfall in the world”. Eddie’s quote. And then on to Las Vegas, where Elvis aka Brendan Duffy, with Irish roots – from Cork, helped us to “renew our vowels”. (Not a note of My Own Lovely Lee in ear-shot) Aoise’s quote. “And then we went to the slots!” Attie’s quote.
And from there – just the four of us drove to Yosemite to the wonderful forest of a spectacular valley, then onto Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Route 66, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, and onto Niagara Falls and then into New York state to visit my life-long pen pal and her nine children. “It’s God’s will”, her quote. We stayed with cousins in Rhode Island and then onto Manhattan.
Next entry I will have the "hilarious japes" (my sodden Fr. Ted reference put in at humourous attempts to bring relief to life-threatening situations on the road). Otherwise know as the moments we wanted to really go home -FOR GOOD. Not just the mildly serious, but the major serious times. Also the times we took the "incorrect exits" (my wording) as opposed to the "wrong exits" that left us 10 miles out of our destination at times. (But this only happened once or twice - so they are boring to recall).