‘Don’t put ONE MORE THING into that suitcase!’
With a pout, my sister reluctantly lowered the lid and drew the zip closed. There were thirteen muffled thumps as she pulled it down the stairs and to the car. Rushing past her, I grabbed my bag and a couple of cds and bustled my way to the front seat. Within seconds I had strapped myself in and was beaming at Ma as she turned the key.
The hours slipped by as we zoomed along one long road after another, speakers humming with music and dashboards burning in the heat. There was something in the air that afternoon – a heaviness – a mugginess that was electric with the promise of cool winds and thunder.
A flickering at the corner of my eye stirred me from my stupor. A dandelion seed was dancing in the air, skipping and twirling on the breeze that whispered through the crack of an open window.
When I was young I used to believe that these seeds were wishes. I would catch one on the wind with my chubby fists, crumpling it in my haste, and tell it my wish, lips barely moving so no one could guess what I was asking for. When I let it go, I would blow it out of my palm and watch it floating to the skies, where it would carry my wish to some place magical. And down on the concrete, in my summer school dress, I would squint at the sun and wait for it to come true.
And here it was again. I hadn’t caught a wish for years and yet I held one now in the cage of my hand, on my way to a place with real magic, a place throbbing with it. With a smile, I put my hand out of the window and let it go. I had nothing to wish for.
Further on and I saw a field of gold. Weaves of amber waved in the breeze and mimicked the shine of a sun beam. A lone rider with a graceful arched back and pointed chin guided a magnificent white horse. I glanced at the endless stream of cars all around me and wondered if I were the only one to have seen the pair, knowing I was.
The journey slowed as we neared our destination. High pitched squeaks of excitement came from the back seat and eager fingers pointed to the sky, picking out planes and speculating which one we would be on the next morning.
One more stop before the journey begins: an overnight stay in a local hotel. A palace of marble and thick fluffy carpets, with rooms of endless sleigh beds and sinking white pillows. Complimentary birthday bottles of wine sent to the room to fuel the laughter and send us into a deep snooze before the alarm, shrieking at 5am, woke us to a new day. The cold grey of early morning stung our noses and clawed at our warm, sleepy bodies.
But we didn’t care. Because we were off.
We were going to New York City.