Thursday, October 6, 2016

No, I Have Not Been to NYCity, but I Have Been to ...

That's me, lower right, reflected in a restaurant window, taking a photo in Paris.
OK, so I'll say it publicly: I've never been to New York City.

Usually, when I say that, it is met with an incredulous, "You're kidding." No. I'm not. So, shoot me. It just hasn't come up. In 70 years it didn't come up.

Selfie along the River Seine.
It almost did. When I was with the Roanoke Times--just before I got fired in 1981--my next assignment was to cover an NCAA lacrosse playoff game between Roanoke College and Hofstra on Long Island. That would have meant flying into JFK (back when Times reporters traveled outside downtown Roanoke and actually got on airplanes occasionally) and driving up to Hempstead. But I got fired. So I didn't go.

I've been to New York State: Buffalo, the Finger Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway (my son's mother's family had a cabin there), Binghampton. Been to Philly, D.C., Baltimore, Cape May. Been standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. Been to Portland and Astoria, L.A. and San Diego, Detroit, Lansing, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Reno, Vegas and every place of consequence--and a lot of no consequence--in North and South Carolina, East Tennessee and southeast West Virginia.

On a farm in Southern France.
Spent a summer in Bee Log, North Carolina, and frequently was a guest in Big Horse Creek (where I had a girlfriend) and Little Horse Creek. Been to Cranberry in the mountains of the Tar Heel state. Went to school there. They closed the school after I left.

Been somewhere in the middle of the desert in New Mexico as the sun set. That was beautiful. I was with my fascinating ex-wife Kathryn, who wondered what it would be like in Arizona at that moment. Kathryn always wanted to be somewhere else.

Been to Denver and as I was leaving, saw Kansas City off in the distance, probably 1,000 miles away, downhill. Drove--quickly--through Oklahoma City ("Oh, I've never been to heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma"). Thought it was the ugliest city I'd ever seen at the time.

Crossed the Mississippi at St. Louis, thinking about Twain. Got lost in the Dallas airport and spent a delightful evening in Amarillo where I slept in a fleabag hotel with the softest bed I've ever known. Woke up happy and ready to burn some more road.

Brother Sandy (left) and me in Cabo.
Slept on the ground at the Hoover Dam and in my truck in the Mojavi desert, trying to write by moonlight on a portable typewriter resting on the tailgate of my truck. Been to Needles, California, and saw about 10 signs in succession saying, "Last Gas for 100 Miles." That was in the early '70s when gas was scarce and cost as much as--gasp!--$1.70 a gallon.

Went to Cabo San Lucas with my brother and saw a whale face-to-face. You have not lived until you come up for air in the ocean, looking into the eyes of, essentially, a gray building.

Watched a bullfight in Rosarito, Mexico, with my old bud. Nearly got in a fight with a drunk Mexican bullfighting hooligan when I sang "hola" instead of "olay." Watched as a pretty, slender, raven-haired hooker slid in beside me--uninvited--in a booth in Tiajuana, put her hand on my crotch and said, "Vas a comprarme una bebida?" No, ma'am, I said. Ain't in the mood for a drink or a lay. She looked at my pal and he shook his head and smiled. She left. A mariachi band replaced her. I felt a tinge of regret.

On a boat in Amsterdam.
I've visited Caracas and Nassau, Miami and Great Harbor Cay, San Juan and a good bit of Europe: Paris, Dublin, Edinburgh (Gatlinburg with castles), Marseille, Saville, Amsterdam, Cordoba, Gibraltar, out on a farm in southern France and another one in Northern Ireland. Been to the capital of Canada (bet a lot of you don't know where that is), which I liked because that little city does a lot right.

But nope, no Big Apple. Somebody want to take me ... or accompany me? Hell, I ain't gettin' any younger.
I think this castle was in Northern Ireland.

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