Category Archives: Adventure

Clubius Incarnate Part 25 – Play School (September 1959)

“So I think it’s good that Khrushchev and his wife came to tour the U.S.” mom said, as she drove the car down Main street on a windy Monday morning with those big white puffy clouds like giant islands in the sky, “He seems much different than Stalin.”

“Not THAT different Liz”, dad said, sitting across from her in the front seat of the car, his brown “briefcase” thing on his lap, “I still don’t trust the man. He’s like one of those slick PR guys who says whatever he thinks will achieve his goals in the moment. He’s just another Stalin with a Madison Avenue twist. You yourself said on more than one occasion that you prefer a straightforward adversary to a weaselly friend.”

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Clubius Incarnate Part 24 – Nursery School

I was in the backyard of this house I had never seen before when mom left me here this morning, now sitting at this long table with a bunch of other boys. Some were my age and some were a little younger. The girls were sitting at another long table next to ours, not because they had to, but that’s just where they wanted to sit I guess. The grownup women in charge had given us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut up pieces of apple, and milk in these small boxes for lunch for lunch. Those grownups said they were “teachers”, whatever those were, but they said things and did things like they were moms.

Mom said it was a “nursery school”, and before we got here this morning, I figured it would be some big building like that giant “school” down at the other end of our street from the park. Or like that “college” place where dad went which he also called a “school”. But instead it was just a regular house with a big sign in the front yard that I think had that “school” word on it.

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Two Inch Heels Part 4 – Solo

Victoria Station, London

[This is a rewrite from August 2021 of the first half of the original “Solo” chapter, now broken into two chapters.]

It was Tuesday September 25th as I walked alone now, my big red backpack on my back, through residential streets of west London to the subway stop that would take me to Victoria Station and my train to the Continent. I felt the locals I passed were looking at me like I was some sort of oddball. If Angie were still with me, they would have seen instead just another couple young “hippie Yank” travellers, a matched set. I was an unmatched set of one.

At several points along the way I almost turned around and went back to Angie in the hotel. This grand adventure with my comrade Angie was now something utterly different, a solo odyssey that was feeling like it was going to be an ordeal. But I could not bear the sense of defeat I knew I would feel if I gave up. The most painful thought of all, was like it or not, for my own still tenuous self respect, I had to continue. I knew at some level I was throwing myself into a hugely developmental “deep end”, that I was pretty sure I wasn’t ready for, but couldn’t NOT do at this point. So somehow I had to traverse this journey so I could return home transformed, the triumphant European traveler.

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Two Inch Heels Part 3 – Angie

[This is part of a rewrite in August of 2021 of my autobiographical novel “Two Inch Heels”. It is the second half of what used to be “Part 1 – Angie”]

The next morning was Friday September 21, and after breakfast with the Clays, we said our goodbyes, repacked our backpacks, and Bill drove us back to the Oxford bus station. We were catching the bus to Salisbury, which had been on our planned itinerary. Angie wanted to see Stonehenge. I had seen it, three years ago, but was happy to go again to a place of great gravity and historical significance. There was also an official youth hostel in Salisbury, and we had called ahead and confirmed it was open and should be able to accommodate us.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 20 – Spring (March 1959)

When I woke up this morning I knew something was different. It FELT different. David was standing in his crib looking out the window across the room from my bed. The sunlight was coming in that window and shined on him. I couldn’t remember the last day when there was sunshine and not just clouds. I looked out the other window, by my bed that looked into the backyard, and the grass where the sun hit it looked extra green, like it was glowing. I heard birds chirping outside.

I got out of my bed and ran out of the room in my pajamas into the living room. The front door was open and just the screen door was still closed. All the windows in the living room were open and I felt a little cool breeze on my skin and the air smelled like flowers. Mom appeared at the doorway to the kitchen.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 18 – Christmas

It was still dark in the house and out the window in grandma and grandpa’s backyard. I so wanted it to finally be morning, Christmas morning, that I could hardly sleep all night. I just kept having things that I had to think about or just wanted to think about over and over. I knew I was going to get to open my presents. I had looked at them carefully and had ideas about what they might be, at least which ones were likely to be toys, the thing I wanted most.

There also had been a lot of other things yesterday that were hard to stop thinking about. There had been a party at the house yesterday with lots of people that I didn’t know but some of them said they knew me, from when I’d been here before. All the grownups had that colored liquid stuff in those strange shaped glasses and they got all excited and laughing and even being silly which was not what grownups usually did. Except I guess at parties.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 17 – Westwood Court

It was still dark but mom and dad said it was morning. I wondered if in this “Binghamton” place it was dark in the morning. Mom had David in her arms, and he looked around trying to figure out this new dark place too. Mom just kind of stared in one direction, blinking her eyes a lot, which weren’t open as much as they usually were. I heard a person calling out.

“Sis! Sis! We’re over here!”

I turned and saw the person who was yelling and waving her hand in the air. She looked familiar but it was a memory from a very long time ago. She had on a long blue coat and shiny black boots. Her hair was like mom’s but a little bit shorter. She looked kind of like an adult but her energy was more like a kid like me, which was what made me remember her. She also reminded me of Margie who would come and play with me and David when mom and dad went to parties.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 16 – Roomette (December 1958)

Pullman Roomette

[Note: Having finished my backpacking through Europe memoir, Two Inch Heels, I’m returning to writing a more imagined “memoir” of my life starting at age three. This is chapter 16. If you’re interested, you can see the first fifteen chapters by clicking here.]

I was so excited! Today we were going to take the train to go “back east”, wherever that was, to visit my “grandparents”, whatever they were. I did know what trains were, because I had seen them on TV, on cartoons and other shows. I had also seen them for real when we were in the car and we had to stop and wait for a train to go in front of us. But I had never gone on one myself.

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Two Inch Heels Part 45 – Home

It was still Tuesday December 11 and I sat in the front passenger seat of our old Buick Skylark that my mom was driving home from Detroit Metro airport. My brother was in the back seat and my backpack was stowed in the trunk. The car was technically mine, given to me by my grandfather, my mom’s dad, but was now our family’s only car. Her ‘old banger’ of a car finally died a year ago and was sold for parts for fifty bucks and hauled off by a tow truck. She did not have the money to buy even another used one. She at least, while I was gone, was paying the insurance, the gas, and what little maintenance it got.

It was dark already so it was hard to make anything out. I-94 from Detroit to Ann Arbor was familiar to me, having driven into Detroit and back, maybe a dozen times or so in the past few years, mainly to go to the airport or to see a Detroit Tiger baseball game. Particularly when we got near the big auto plant outside Ypsilanti, all lit up just off the freeway, I knew I was getting into familiar territory and close to home. I felt really tired, my day having started fifteen hours ago after little sleep, and since then the four Chivas on the rocks. My mom got a kick out of it when I told her what I had drunk on the plane, commenting that I had become a “sophisticated drinker”, though I did not tell her how much I had drunk.

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Two Inch Heels Part 44 – The Coopster

It was Tuesday morning December 11, 1973. I awoke with a start, Kevin calling my name, and it barely felt like I had slept at all. My mind had buzzed late into the night with anticipation, it being my last night after eleven weeks in Europe. It was nearly six o’clock and I had a 7:15 AM bus from the downtown Oxford bus station to the London Victoria Coach Station. From there a walk across the street to the BOAC office where I would check my backpack and take another bus to Heathrow for my 11:15 AM flight nonstop to Detroit. Kevin had volunteered to drive me into town.

My last two days had been pretty mellow, just hanging out here at the Clay’s with whoever was home. That is except for a trip to the village pub last night with Kevin, Madge, Bill, and Nana, where they took turns treating me to pints of Watney’s for my final sendoff, each with a toast. Kate was out studying with her friends. Before heading out she had found a moment with me when the others were out of earshot to say goodbye and say that Mackenzie wanted her to pass on a big thank you to “her cousin Spike”.

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