Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First Trip

Was thinking of ‘my first trip away from home’ about going to New York, but that’s not right. Or about leaving and going to California; but that wasn’t it either. My first trip away from home was when I was two. My mother was getting divorced and she took us kids, me and my sister, left Georgia and went back home to Sweden. This was in the mid-fifties so we took the boat of course, no airliner service for poor folk.

I remember on the upper deck it was sunny, brilliant sunshine, and breezy. My sister’s (she was four) flat white hat with the red ribbon blew off and we could see it down there in the blue water, in the wake of the ship. I went up to this great big guy (when I was two, every adult was gigantic to me). Anyway, this guy is all decked out in shiny white uniform with gold buttons and hat and insignia. I imagine he’s the captain. I tell him about
the hat in the water, and ask if he can turn the boat around so we can go get it? I don’t believe he did though.

That’s all I remember. I have little recollection of Sweden, grandparents, whatever. Grandpa’s ( Moorfaar) name is Ernst, he’s a bus driver I guess. I vaguely remember a little fat guy in some kind of tacky half-uniform, dark sweater on over his bus driver pants,maybe he took us for a ride on his bus onetime. And mother’s young brother Klas-Joren has a motorcycle, noisy; and a kayak in the cold water.
That was scary to me, not something I wanted to do. But that’s about it. There are pictures of me and my sister in a park, playground equipment. Don’t remember that. I vaguely remember there were other kids our age we played with. Neighbour kids I suppose. Moormoor and Moorfaar have a dog, Pookie-Mooken. It’s a great big Boxer type, I think, with the cut, stilted ears.

I guess we were gone for months. I mean, you don’t boat over to Sweden, and stay a week or two, not like flying to Paris for a week. But time isn’t real at that age anyway, not ‘til you start counting to Christmas or birthdays and such. I Don’t remember coming home but the story is that the boat comes to New York pier and Dad is there to meet us and we’re not there. Mom had slipped by him somehow. Imagine that, waiting these months and months wondering if you’d ever see wife and kids again. Then they come back and you go to pick them up, wait hope-filled hours and agonizing hours on the pier and then finally everybody’s gone and they’re not there.

And Dad’s panicky but not that time I guess, because he remembers that Mom had stayed at the YWCA before she’d left, waiting on ticketing and what not. So he goes to the Y and presto, there we are. Apparently Mom’s got those awful decisions running through her head, like she knows she has the return ticket...but is she going to take the kids or leave them or what?

I’m thinking there was a bus or train that’s pitch black inside except for small blinking overhead corridor type lights. And Mom’s going back to Sweden and we’re going home with Dad. It seems that you don’t really emote about things like that when you’re two or three. I had my third birthday in Sweden.

So, when we get back to Georgia, to my Grandparents house - they have this room that appears to be filled with toys. Sorta make up for not having a mother, I suppose, but I never really thought about it at the time. I did notice that the shiny silver and red tricycle had one of those push to ring type bells on the handlebars. That’s cool. And of all things, these folks have a tiny little toy Pomeranian dog. I don’t remember it from before, been gone awhile. So I say to my sister, in Swedish, since we don’t speak English anymore “these people have a pet squirrel in their house.” Later Dad tells me I told him that unlike the pom, Pookie-Mooken was a stura hundt, a big strong dog.

Mikael Covey

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