: tending to vanish like vapor
we did not take road trips when i was a child. it was understood that our car would not survive a duration much further than a few towns over. we did, however, occasionally travel to the trumbull mall, the more distant and exotic of the two malls in my limited sphere of existence.
the trumbull mall was exciting because it had a discovery store and a cinnabon, two establishments absent from the selection at the post mall in milford. this was often a family trip, my older brothers and i crammed into the backseat (in the years before my younger sister was born), my mom drove, my grandmother sat up front refusing to fasten her seatbelt. she would just drape it over her shoulder, as if that made any difference.
it cuts into my skin, she would complain. i would lecture her on the dangers of belt-less travel. she would launch into an argument about how she has never worn a seatbelt in seventy years, to which my mother would begin to panic and plead, please don't argue, please don't argue.
aren't those pretty trees? my grandmother would say, looking out the window, placating my mother's anxieties.
the drive to the mall is more memorable than the actual destination. to get there, we had to drive on route 15 south, heading toward new york. this meant we were required to traverse the sikorsky bridge, a slick metal grate stretched across the housatonic river. we were often instructed to play the "disappearing cloud" game to take our minds off the potential of plummeting into the cold waters from the slippery death-grate.
i did not understand how this game worked. we were told to pick a small cloud and stare at it as hard as we could. eventually the cloud would in fact disappear, slipping into an EVANESCENT state right before our eyes. the game really convinced me that i had powers, that my stare was able to disintegrate clouds. i did not understand that clouds naturally fade and transform, moving through different atmospheric layers. nobody in the car ever told me otherwise.
i probably believed this until i was about thirteen or fourteen years old. it wasn't science that convinced me otherwise as much as it was the realization that nothing i believed in my childhood held up to reality.