Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving at Anne's House

Powell Obama

Powell and I were supposed to leave on Thanksgiving morning for Anne's Town, with the intention of arriving by eleven or twelve.

Instead, we stayed up until three o'clock in the morning watching old episodes of The Simpsons, and, in my case, cleaning up a disgracefully messy bedroom, so we weren't even out of bed until about noon.

Anne, operating under the assumption that my brother and I would arrive in the late morning, or, allowing for traffic, the early afternoon, had started making dinner early and had everything ready by one, which is incidentally right around when we left the house.

Our somewhat-irritated birth-mother put the turkey back into the oven to keep warm as Powell and I made our way north.

Driving Past a Field

House at the Intersection

On the Way to Decaying State

We passed by the empty fields and frozen farmland of Southern State, stopping twenty minutes or so away from our home at an old-fashioned gas station with a mechanical pump reader. I can't ever remember having seen one of these before, and thought it interesting enough to take a picture.

Paying at the Pump

This region of the country is defined by the Old Mountain Range, which unifies parts of a dozen states ranging from the Deep South to the Upper North in a single cultural unit. Be you in Southern State, Growing State, Sprawling State, Decaying State, or any number of otherwise different places, the scenery along the edges of these mountains is essentially the same.

Old shacks, some abandoned, some miraculously holding people, dot a landscape defined more by absence than anything else, by empty spaces and vast, cold skies.

Shack in a Field

It was sights like these that followed us along the whole of our trip, even when we crossed a Certain Line and officially entered the North.

Approaching a Certain Line

Something about this has a certain notoreity for me. There is just a different feeling knowing you are above this Line than there is knowing you are below it. North and South are so different, so incompatible, so opposite one another, that for a person who's spent almost their entire life in the South heading up north is something like visiting a foreign country.

Granted, Native State is not culturally Southern at all and my childhood was one of harsh winters and huge snowstorms. Native State is still, however, like fifteen other states in whose territory slavery was legal at the outbreak of the Civil War, officially part of the South.

I love visiting the North, but my travel there has been very sparse. Powell and I have family in Decaying State who we see several times a year, but beyond that I've been to Largest City twice, passed through Ugly State four times (twice on the way to Largest City, twice on the way back), and stayed a few nights at a hotel in New England State.

That's it. I've never been anywhere in the Midwest, never seen anything outside the highly urban part of Northern State, and, with the exception of a 2007 trip to Independence City with Anne, have never ventured anywhere into Decaying State beyond her immediate area.

I'd love to travel more in that region, be as well-versed with it as I am with the South. I have family in Humid State and Country Music State, once lived in Deep South State, and live now in a state considered by many to be the quintessential embodiment of the South, even if what that means is morphing somewhat.

There were some funny moments along the way to Decaying State.

While roaring up the major interstate highway that takes us to Anne's house, we started to discussing the absurdities of speed limits.

Speedometer During Our Drive

"I hate those gay signs you see on Route Important Area," I said. "The ones that are like, 'Speed Limit Enforced by AIRCRAFT.'"

"Oh, I know," Powell replied as he floored the gas. "I have yet to see a single airplane in the sky."

Powell Driving

"The police would think that would be a good idea, though," I continued. "Waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money to catch someone doing 60 in a 55."

Powell nodded in agreement.

"And even if they did catch you speeding," I pondered. "What would they do, land?"

He and I looked at each other and burst into laughter that went on for a solid minute. Something about the notion of a police aircraft touching down in the middle of the highway had been just ludicrous enough to bring on a fit of severe giggles.

A little ways down the road, we passed by a helicopter that was posed as if coming down.

Helicopter Not Landing

"Hey, look," I said. "There the police are. They must have caught someone."

We were further delayed because Powell decided, purely for the fun of it, to stop at a random porn shop, which thankfully turned out to be closed.

A Fine Establishment on the Side of the Highway

We arrived at Anne's house at around three o'clock, and she immediately took the turkey out of the oven, cautioning that it might be a bit dry after the wait.

We devoured the bird itself, along with mashed potatoes and several homemade pies, including a delicious pumpkin confection that Anne had to make more of because it went so quickly.

Anne Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

The meal was not quite on a par with what we've enjoyed in previous years at Grand Ma Normal Family's house (Grand Ma Normal Family is our father's mother), but very few people can cook like she can and Anne did a good job of it.

The Remains of Thanksgiving Dinner

She did insist on leaving the television on during Thanksgiving dinner, something that grated me intolerably, but she wished it to be and so it was. I don't understand how anyone could possibly desire hearing a TV in the background during such a meal. Maybe I'm traditional in that way.

Powell on the Phone

The rest of our visit was spent mostly lounging around the house and watching movies. Anne sells antiques on e-Bay for a living, which means that she often rises at four in the morning to go to auctions and then spends a good part of the afternoon listing things on her computer. Even when this is done, she must constantly check her account to see which bids are where.

Blogging was fairly impossible during the visit; it was everything I could do to upload the pictures I'd taken without her interrupting every few minutes and muttering about her computer being "messed with."

Like many adults, Anne has limited knowledge of the way that computers actually work and is in the habit of blaming the young people who happen to use them when any little thing goes wrong. For example, her laptop has been running slowly for months, something she attributes to my brother using it one time half a year ago. When I explained that Powell would have done nothing beyond routine Google searches and Facebook and MySpace checks, she shrugged it off.

The truth is that her virus protection is likely at fault, but that is not acknowledged.

Similarly, my mother (Marie) informed me last night that watching YouTube videos entails "downloading." When I attempted to tell her that this wasn't even remotely true, she became irritated and ended the conversation.

A call from my father while we were still at Anne's house went something like this: "BB, your mother just logged into her computer to check her e-mail, and she has 350 [spam] messages. It says in the viewing history that you were on Wikipedia."

Once again, honest efforts to illuminate why such statements are ridiculous fall on deaf ears.

Speaking of ridiculous, I've been banned from using Blogger on my mother's laptop, because evidently it causes viruses.

I suppose that's better anyway, though; were I to access my blog too freely where they can see, they might figure out that I have one.

Powell and I were to return to Southern State on Sunday, but fears of freezing rain kept us with Anne one more night, a stay that we celebrated by ordering out from Pizza Hut.

When we did begin our drive home yesterday, Sunday's mild evening weather was replaced with heavy hail.

Now I'm back at school, feverishly wrapping up all of the commitments I have. Finals are next week, and I still haven't registered for all of my spring classes. Another thing; while I do believe I'll do fairly well this semester academically, I am announcing right now my New Year's resolution to regularly attend class next semester.

I may be getting good grades (I learned, to my total shock, that I received a 92% on my second Anthropology midterm), but I feel too much as if I'm letting myself slide into laxity.

I'll have all next week to stay at home and study. How wonderful that will be.

Now, I have to run off to Major University's main campus and catch a six o'clock vocal recital, which I've selected as one of the four mandatory concert reports for my World Music Class (all of them due Thursday).

Pumpkin Pie

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