Excerpt from road trip

[June 15, 2015 Part of Our roadtrip to coastal North Carolina]

June 8th, 2015: On NC-99 between Plymouth and Pantego, NC Somehow we’ve ended up in Indiana.

We’ve come upon commercialized farmland which I haven’t seen since Indiana—flat, seamlessly planted fields that run to the horizon. The roads drop away plumb-line straight and like infinity, tend to hypnotize. Any sense of speed is suspended. We aren’t driving so much as floating while the landscape sluices by. There is no point of reference to compare our motion to other bodies. It’s like being, I would imagine, on a vast calm ocean or an interstellar voyage–everything is far away, your relative motion all but imperceptible. The road and the fields are unbroken, undemarcated lines that make it hard to judge speed in the same way judging a mile-long train’s speed: they seem stationary until they go blaring by like tornadoes. Without landmarks, I can see how someone can easily break 80, 90 miles an hour and not be aware of it

I yell at the kids in the back to look out their windows at the view and they do look up from their ipads and wonder what I am trying to show them. They are used to hills and trees and houses and here they only see geometric planes of browns and greens; I might as well be showing them a gray-laden, blank sky. To me it speaks of where I grew up and reminds me of my long trips between Chicago and southern Indiana during college breaks, hours of riding a road through unbroken cornfields that numbed friends mad from lack of scenery. But you drive it long enough and you learn to appreciate—what I later learned is called—the “negative space” of the scenery, which is the space around and between things, sort of like Indiana; it’s a space between other states in the Midwest—which I learned some people think includes all the states until the Rockies, which really are called the Great Plains—and likewise the way the Midwest is, to some people, all that space between New York and say, San Diego [hmm, Leslie.] Needless to say, they don’t bring the needed baggage to understand or appreciate industrial-grade farming for its austere and glacially-paced beauty.

Jack

Jan 23 2013

It’s a cold night and the air is still and feels frozen solid, no longer flowing unnoticed. The sky is very clear and the moon is flash-light bright. For some reason, the colder the night, the more apt I am to take Jack out for a walk. Jack never objects to being outside and Scarlett joins in; she joins in, because someone is doing something she is not. Scarlett does not abide.

Where we are right now the sky is not bludgeoned into a schmear of grey, lit up street-light yellow from the city below. The sky is an inky black-blue which lets the stars stand out precisely and pristinely. We stare up at the white-bright moon and Jack tells me, ‘I see the moon, daddy.’ Scarlett then tells me the same thing. We stroll down the sidewalk next to our house, clearing the walk of small branches and brambles blown down by the recent, strong winds from the West.

This is about Jack, finally.

Jack enjoys these walks. He should; his feet are built for it. Large for his size, they stick out like planks and further accentuate his reediness which Arnæzs’s are not known for. His feet look tougher and more weathered than our circumstances would indicate: We are not holler-ed in hill country nor dust-bowled on the Plains. His life is not hard-scrabbled to explain the lack of excess in body and action he exhibits. Unlike Mac and Scarlett who’ve developed a propensity for flourishes in body and mind, Jack’s acts are efficient and clear. His body is already athletically lean and his movements are steadily practiced. If he wants that cookie, he acts only toward that end without fail. Be it a cookie in a cabinet or fifty feet up on a ledge.

It is this physical self-dependency that I think explains Jack’s lack of speech. Until very recently Jack was mute. I’d like to believe it’s because he had nothing to say. If he needed something and he could see it, then physically he could do whatever necessary to get it. The times he couldn’t act but needed to communicate some mental-state, his perspicuous grunts and gestures demonstrated to me1 how caveman got along during most of the Holocene until true speech evolved. But I’m glad to say that in the past few months surrounding his third birthday, his speech has improved immensely and he is quickly coming up to par with his sibling’s verbosity and while it’s still hard to understand him, if his speech develops anywhere near his physical abilities, I will be a bit scared about getting into arguments with him. Also, I’m afraid he’ll just beat me up.

Some more about Jack.

Jack is cautious and adventuresome. I’ve yet to see him repeat the same mistake or be fooled twice. However, this doesn’t mean he is reticent; he’s the least timid of our kids. At parks, he has climbed higher than a little-kid’s parent ought to let him. It’s nerve-wracking to watch. Frequently, another parent will move in and hover around him, until I tell them not to mind and that it took me a while to relax and get used to seeing Jack teetering on the edge, up high and looking down at the rest us and usually smiling because he knew he was making us nervous. But this boy is not rash. He knows he’s up high and knows it will hurt if he falls. He’s fallen and cried, but unlike Mac and Scarlett who will make sure we know they’ve fallen, he will brush himself off, especially his hands, wiping them—surprisingly fastidiously on his pants—and get back up and go at it again, knowing full well what made him fall.

He is unceasing motion from the moment he gets up: climbing, jumping, running, indefatigable until about 6:30 pm when he will ask for his pooh-bear and his binky. Being only minutes from falling aseep, he will climb into your lap and nestle his head into your left shoulder. You will take him up, put him in bed and say ‘go to sleep, Jack’ and he will reply, ‘Oo-kay’ and then pass out, the on-switch finally being switched off.

Feb 3, 2013 6:08pm gea

  1. see Gestural theory on the origin of language []

brief update 25Oct2010

24oct2010 5:33PM CMT BKGY

Jack has been climbing up the stairs. To the top. And Sits there with a big wide grin. His arms wide, each one holding a remote control, which he blinks on and off. He has fallen a few times. Not for lack of trying, we have tried to prevent this. We have up gates and he wormed his way through them. Already outsmarting us.

It is thundering outside. Haven’t heard real lightning in a long time. It goes on for far longer than I remember and longer than I thought possible out here in the MidWest, like dropping a rock down a very deep well, the crumbling thunder keeps rolling on and on, reminding me of a Finnegans’s Wake passage:

The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy.