Popped in to college with Larry, as we stood on the steps to the front doors and looked at the students chatting and lounging around I half expected to see a young Elvis strumming a guitar under a tree or the cast of Grease to stream out the doors singing "shoo waba waba dingy dingy doo" etc...... Anyway that didn't happen and soon after we were on our way to Pennsylvania where Larry's son has a weekend retreat.
Larry has only recently been driving after a 20 year gap, that combined with me being a bad back seat driver led to many a scream followed by "It's OK, I was going to stop, stop worrying!..oops, sorry didn't see that one"........[uncomfortable laughter from all].
On arriving Larry had been given the wrong alarm code, which was a bit unfortunate because not only was this the most harsh and mind penetrating alarm siren I have ever experienced, it was also patched into an emergency call centre, I wasn't keen on a police man pointing a gun at me and saying "put your hands UP! Didn't you hear me I said put your hands up or I'll have to shoot you!"...... OK that didn't happen as things go but it was a bit of a worry even so.
Not knowing how things in the house functioned meant sleeping without heating which on that night was not particularly convenient as the temperature dropped to a level where even under ones covers any slight movement led to a new very cold area to heat up. Suffice to say the next day Lee went down with a severe cold.
During the day we went out for a drive, both Lee anbd I had a go. In the past we've both driven on the right hand side of the road, (and not always abroad it has to be said........Boom Boom!) but always in a left hand drive car. The main result of trying it in a right hand car was a tendency to veer off the road on to the pavement, down the ditch, or onto the hard shoulder whenever there was a lull in our concentration. Fortunately having two people scream 'Steer left" was a great help. Larry found this most rewarding as he had done the same thing in my car in England. At one point we came to a ford, too deep for our car. It's my theory that this had been puposefully built so people in four wheel jeep type cars had an excuse to justify buying such macho vehicles.
Larry's son and daughter-in law's house is the kind of place I dream of living in in the UK. 4 Acres of land in the countryside, A large (in UK terms) house, with rooms for kids, guests, entertaining,and working in. It was also beautiful (as far as we were concerned), however until Larry's son turned up we had no access to the internet, and there was no TV. Most people would be content with beautiful countryside, a dream house, and a real wood burning fire. Much to Larry's disgust we (actually mainly me) whined on about not having anything to do. For many people, and both Lee and I are included amongst these, the computer and the internet have become main stays in our day to day living and without them there is a void.
Larry's son and daughter-in-Law Josiah and Kris turned up, just I was about to go into a stage of cold turkey, this meant new people to get to know. More people had entered the non-virtual chat rooms of our life, and what's more they brought with them access to the internet.
Socialising and eating together, as well as watching a police speed trap keep chasing cars from the bottom of the garden helped pass the time.
Possibly because our stay here was only one week long it didn't seem apt to relax. A week however is not long enough to do a "Thelma and Louise" either, and in future if I came back I'd make sure I had the time to do a fly drive type holiday. If I wanted to relax I'd stay in Europe, but visiting America is about visiting / experiencing America.
After visiting a pumkin farm in the afternoon with Josia and Kris, we had a meal together then we set off for New York City. Bruce Springsteen lyrics kept popping in to my head as we drove along the New Jersey Turnpike, (Mr State Trooper), the credits to "The Sopranos" also came to mind as we drove through New Jersey, and the events of September 11th came back with a vengance as we approached Manhattan. Smoke still rose up through the bright Arc lights shining where the twin towers had once stood, and as we got on to the island there was the acrid smell of burning plastic. Prefab sprout had once written a song about the mythology of the American Rock / Pop world, I think it was called "Cars and girls". Perhaps coming to America is a way of searching for or dispelling that myth, however what I found was a world mixed up between the humdrum, the the surreal, myth and illusion.
As we drove in to the city a man ridind a pedal-cab bike with a beautiful woman passenger started calling to us. He looked to me a bit like the actor Joe Pesci. The converstion went something like this
He passes us in a traffic jam
"You wanna get on?"
I pick up my camcorder and start filming them
"Smile" I shout to the woman.......she doesn't
So as they pass us at the next set of lights I say "We're from England"
The man pulls up and says "Get away........You're Engelish" The woman smiles
I say "Are you trying to teach us a lesson about using a car in a city?" She replies with a suprised look on her face "Sure didn't you realise that."
They're laughing and he waves as he cycles off a head of us. I see him almost crash as he hits a pot hole, and then he cycles off in to the sea of the Saturday night traffic.
"I wonder if that was Joe Pesci" I say to Larry
"Nah I see Joe Pesci around all the time that wasn't him"
I dispute with Larry that he got a good enough look . I want to believe that it was Joe Pesci and the woman was a famous actress, because I want to live in a world of special moments and the special moments that I'm supposed to be content with just don't have the edge that the American dream offers............. looking for some magical, mythical extra-ordinary experience, that's how it's been from the apple, to the Holy Grail, from my first lost love to my latest dreams of an everlasting one.
When an American visits Britain they're possibly trying to find their historical roots. For a British person visiting the US, it's likely to be in a search for the possibilities of the outstretched branches of our future.
Tomorrow we are hopefully going to be travelling home. When I get back I will add, as was always done at the end of 1970's American series, an Epilogue, and a few more pictures