At two AM this story seemed to be very important for me to tell; everything is different in the middle of the night, sometimes better, sometimes depressing!
Rafe looked at me the other night and said:
“you’re ageless. You don’t look a day to older to me than you did 20 years ago.”
Nor does he to me.
Nine years ago today I was in Torquay, England. Its pronounced Tor–key. Loved finding that it because now I understood why all the Key’s in Florida are named that. Never knew before that I had been lacking that knowledge or really cared about learning it.. I have been to many British seaside resorts, but Torquay was the only one I watched Brits with bad teeth line dance. It felt as if I were in a 1950’s or ’60’s mystery; I have read all the mystery sub-genres and this was classic post war England.
The English I knew all had great teeth; the wife was generally American and a friend from home. Or they were people I had met through friends, and were just like me. I didn’t know anybody in Torquay. Going to British seaside resorts was a weird hobby of mine. But if I would go to Scarborough, I would stay in York or Harrogate, where I felt at home. Do love it-especially Cornwall.
I called Lucia on the 19th and she was hysterically crying:
“the plane…so many people…Rafe…”
“what are you talking about?”
I hadn’t known that Flight 800 had crashed off the coast of Long Island, and that Rafe’s next door neighbors and good friends had been on it. They were exceptional people. I knew some other people, much less well, but still….
I had to take a bus 30 miles to Plymouth to get The International Herald Tribune. None of the people I met in Torquay cared. They were on holiday and what was the crash of an American airliner? Couldn’t really blame them. I left for St Ives in Cornwall which has the most exceptional light, many artists, and, most importantly, I knew people who did care.
Six years ago tonight it was exceptionally hot. I was sitting in the Boat Basin Cafe with a friend. We admired the sunset; it was fierce shades of oranges. I had never seen a sunset quite like that. John Kennedy, his wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister were missing in a plane.
Everybody in New York seems to have a John Kennedy story. I don’t. Knew his cousins, Joe and Bobby during my Cambridge MA years. But this isn’t the place for that story.
Their Uncle Teddy has his fateful car ride on July 19, 1968
A year to the day later, the astronauts landed on the moon. The next day was the first Moon Walk. I was more interested in my personal life. My father spent the day yelling at me. I was young and had a complicated love life. That took priority. My father couldn’t believe it. I had always been so passionate about the world, and this was probably the most important thing to happen in our lifetimes.
But I had always known the moonwalk was going to happen. It seemed pedantic next to my life which was oh so important to me. When the Challenger exploded, (not in July) it was very important to me; fortunately my father was still alive. When the last space craft went down, I watched endless replays in airports.
Hate airport CNN passionately; I have seen (supposedly) Bin Laden come out of hiding to threaten us; again it was played over and over. Incredible feeling of security when traveling.
Flight 800 was a harbinger of things to come. It’s good to have friends like Rafe who still think of me as young, and hopelessly optimistic. Rafe know’s that I still am the later.
Life can be depressing but it’s a hell of lot better than the alternative.