It was a big event in my life when the National Geographic came every month. I can’t recall ever seeing my mother reading one, or my dad. I suppose they did, or maybe the subscription was just something they did for the kids. I didn’t come home from school to video games or online chats. I came home to snack on pretzels and apples, maybe some peanut butter spread on whatever was handy (just the tip of a knife if mom wasn’t looking) and avoid my homework by either making up dance routines involving chairs and stools in the living room to the accompaniment of Rogers and Hammerstein or reading my mail. How much mail could a 10 year old kid get beyond the $5 card from granny on my birthday? Let me tell you — boxes. I got mail almost everyday.
On the one day a month when the National Geographic came I’d snatch it up immediately. I’m sure I gleaned some educational benefit from the magazine. I looked at the pictures of the volcanoes and hummingbirds, the camels with flies on their eyes and oh yes, the naked indigenous people. It was there that I read about the space shots which lead me on a wild goose chase to find space food at the grocery store. That was before you could find your wildest desire on the Internet and Kroger’s had yet to stock food in flavor saving pouches.
After a quick flip through, I would get down to studying the last few pages in the magazine where there were columns of 1 x 2″ ads for countries all over the world beckoning American tourist dollars. They wanted those dollars so bad that they offered travel brochures, maps, coupons and other enticements to anyone for (get this) FREE.
Free was just what I could afford. Some of the poorer countries asked for a self addressed stamped envelope, but stamps were only a nickle and I could sneak one of those out of the middle drawer of the desk easily enough. I’d spread out my clipped coupons from the back of the magazine on my bed and slip them into envelops, guaranteeing a continual stream of mail. I dreamed of traveling to all those places.
Last night Micheal reports that once again I was dreaming of travel — spouting numbers in my sleep. We have three big trips in various stages of planning: Kazakhstan in Jan., Jakarta in Feb., and Istanbul in March. Figures and itineraries were dancing in my brain all night.
One thing I never dreamed when I sat down at the kitchen table to write poems for Katie and Kelly was that those poems would take me to places like Vietnam, China, Italy, Croatia, Sumatra, Vancouver, Toronto, Bahrain and Tell City, Indiana — to name a few.
All I know is that this travel dream has been with me since I memorized every word to South Pacific. I just never dreamed it would come true. And I NEVER dreamed that the coupon that would get me there would be a poem.