Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thelma and Louise Go Riding - on Tricycles

Courtesy  Mad Penguin Creative

The breeze lifted the curtain. Images and impressions filled my senses. First would come a dull roar followed by a sense of movement. I'd feel my body begin to sway back and forth ever so slightly even as I fought the urge to jerk forward and backward. Acclimating to the balancing act, I became aware of an arc of light swinging and swaying around me. The light seemed one of those tinted bulbs folks on the coast use to illuminate their way without inviting bugs to the party. I'd look up, and there it would be, the yellow light bulb, bare of a shade, swinging above me. Faces looked back at me in the dim, swaying light. Everyone wore a dull, stunned expression. I try to make out where I am before the memory slips away. I am defeated.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Over the years, I tried to convince myself that the memory was only a dream or maybe a clip from some long forgotten movie. I didn't feel particularly haunted or concerned. So, if it was a dream, it surely wasn't a nightmare. I could never anticipate when the multiple sensations would erupt. Over time, I dismissed them as my overly active writer's imagination begging me to tell a story. One day, I'd have to sit down and figure out the story I was supposed to tell.

I guess you could call it serendipity that my brother was around one day when the roaring in my head began again. He saw me slip away, I guess, because he asked what was on my mind. Hesitantly, I began to describe the sights, sounds, and proprioceptive input crowding my brain. I heard him chuckle. He's 7 years older than me, so my vague impressions are clearly defined memories for him. His reaction startled me because it meant my descriptions resonated with him as well. I caught my breath.

What?” I asked. “Do you know what it is? Do I really remember something like that? Is it real, or did I just make it up?” The words spilled out so quickly that my tongue was almost tied.

Oh yea,” he says, “It was while we lived on the Outer Banks. I can't believe you remember. You were so little. They were evacuating us. One of the few times it happened. There had been a storm. The island had been cut in half. We were in a military transport vehicle of some sort. You've described it exactly.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Oh,” I say, and I think about those days of long ago. There was no bridge to the mainland. Ferry boats were the only access. There were no streetlights. Nights were so dark that, in the absence of moon or stars, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. The sound side harbor was directly across from our front door. I could see the Atlantic Ocean from my 2nd floor bedroom window. On a good day, I could see the Hatteras Island lighthouse. The famous barber pole-stripped one. The wind always blew, and the fish always smelled. The sound of the waves was so ever present that you didn't hear them anymore. It was a magical place.

All those years ago, the land was mostly wilderness beach. It was a place where 2 tiny girls, 4 and 2, could ride tricycles down the main thoroughfare of the island village. We'd expected to keep that jaunt a secret since no traffic ever came by. The fishing boats had not yet come in for the day. The coast was pun intended. Sometimes I crack me up...just in case you wondered.

The way I sized it up, what mamma didn't know wouldn't hurt us. Given the slow time of day at the harbor when we launched our caper, we shoulda been A-OK. I hadn't heard of Thelma and Louise, but I think I might be pretty sure where that writer got his inspiration. Our plans were foiled when we looked up to see a traffic jam trailing along behind us. We probably created the first and only traffic jam in the village before the bridge made travel to and from the mainland easily accessible.

Imagine my surprise when a peek over my shoulder alerted me to 3 cars and a DUMP TRUCK shadowing us at a safe distance. The dump truck driver is seared in my memory even now maybe 50 years later. He's hysterical and not in a bad way. I can almost hear his waterfall-like laughter spilling over the cars between us and onto me. Yea. Good times. Good times. I was the queen of my world.

Inspiration for Thelma and Louse, doncha think? .
At least, they were good times until I realized that the dump truck was hiding one more vehicle. My dad's. The ferry had docked. He was home from a business meeting. His car was was creeping along in my impromptu parade – bringing up the rear. I'd like to think the dump truck driver pleaded our case as 'innocent on account of being too cute to be in trouble'. Whatever he pled, it didn't work. We were toast.

The scene fades out at that point. I think I coulda used one of those military vehicles to transport my hide outta there right about then. I blame it all on my baby sister. She should have known better than to let me go first down the village street. Anyone knows the leader always gets the blame. So, if you are the oldest and the leader of a traffic jam in a world where no such event ever occurred before, you are bound to attract some negative parental attention.

I think about that little girl tonight..the brave one who thought it was a great idea to ride a tricycle down what would have been Main St. if there had been such. How did she get to be such a fraidy cat? Can she get in touch with her inner tricycle rider again? And, if she does, what kind of force will she be to reckon with? What kind of force indeed?


  1. Trouble maker! At least you didn't end up sleeping on the floor on the trips to Mammaw's. Oooh no! Precious Halloween Queen slept up on the nice cushy car seat!