March 21, 2008
simply stated
I’m working on a travel journal. It’s retrospective, I guess you could say, because I was either too lazy to write as things were happening or too young to know that without flash cards I’d soon forget it all. I started with the U.S. If I’ve been to your state, here’s the first thing that came to my mind about it.

Alabama – I-10.

Arizona – Sedona. I had never seen anything quite that color red before, with the exception of the odd clay tennis court in New Jersey, and I thought I would start crying on the spot.

California – The Villa Florence hotel in San Francisco. Cabernet, Aveda, lobby chatter, the creak of the white wood on the second level. I smile just thinking of that place.

Colorado – Being cut off at a bar at the Denver Airport.

Connecticut – I recall physically aching from the envy I felt at the beauty of the waterfront homes there, the ones with windows that somehow escape the sea spit and the manicured kelly green lawns. I reassure myself regularly that the whole world doesn’t live like this; it’s just everyone in Connecticut.

Delaware – Visiting the University of Delaware, thinking that quite possibly I was on a television set made to look like a college, where there’d be one nerdy guy in a sweater vest, one buxom sorority blonde, and a kid in a wheelchair all in one shot.

Florida – A Seminole, I ended up sitting in the UF section at a Florida/Florida State game while wearing a bright blue sweater.

Georgia – First witnessing one of my same-aged cousins call my mother “ma’am.” Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Jersey anymore.

Illinois – Walking riverside in Chicago in the springtime, thinking that there would be no better place to live on the planet. For three months of the year. (Although now, ever being on the river in Chicago instills fear that the Dave Matthews Band might ruin the moment. I don’t even want to link that reference.)

Indiana – Indiana makes me think of a 10th grade Presbyterian retreat at Purdue University. Back in the years before cellulite, when I still had evidence that God loved me back.

Louisiana – Taking a picture of a mammoth David Duke campaign sign to prove to the North that the rumors were true.

Maine – in all honesty, no recollection.

Maryland – Getting our asses kicked by the Terps in 2004 and enduring some serious ridicule as we schlepped to our cars.

Massachusetts – I’m pretty sure “Boston” is olde English for “my tea bags are frozen,” because a few days spent there in January were colder than, well, you know.

Michigan – I loved those stone ducks on everyone’s front lawns, which you’d think I’d hate given genetic snobbery. If I owned one, its winter outfit would include Chucks and quite possibly a pink hoodie, which I’m guessing would less than charm the ladies of the Bloomfield Hills Garden Club.

Mississippi – It will sound ridiculous and just a teensy weensy bit stereotypical, but I remember visiting quite possibly the largest Wal-Mart I have ever seen. There might have been angels singing. Angels wearing flip flops.

Missouri – I absolutely loved the few days I spent in Springfield. I also consider the Branson craze to be one of the more interesting social phenomena of our time.

Nevada – Staying at the Nugget in Reno, I walked out of an elevator at 7:30 am to see a blue hair playing nickel slots in last night’s sequined outfit, or as I now call it, my tomorrow if I don’t quit the Pall Malls.

New Hampshire – Not gonna lie, NH. No memory of it. Nada.

New Jersey – Sitting on the beach with my friend Kevin the night after my senior prom, running my fingers through the cool sand. My hands were very tan and my nails were very white, which I’m hoping was the trend at the time; it was also my only lifetime manicure prior to last week.

New York – I get two! In Manhattan, watching in horror as a street vendor picked chestnuts up off the sidewalk to return them to the open fire. Upstate, going to an Albany River Rats game with my sister. I’m not sure how we ended up there, but I do recall thinking that the entire populous of this capital city was in attendance. The ones that weren’t frozen.

North Carolina – When my grandfather was dying, my sister and I drove to Miami to surprise my mother and grandmother with some much needed support. When we arrived at my grandmother’s home, my mother saw us through the peephole and shouted, “Oh shit!” Stellar. Fayetteville, NC was our stopping point on the way to Miami. We stayed at a Days Inn there, spending Thanksgiving night in our room eating munchies we bought from a gas station down the street.

Ohio – A visit to Muskingum College, where I saw both my first 1) gazebo and b) adult virgin.

Pennsylvania – Ugh. It’s an awful thing to admit, but my immediate memory is of sneaking behind a boyfriend’s back to visit another guy at a college in Philadelphia – a guy I had so very tritely and regrettably met on Spring Break in Cancun (not so regrettably, long before the debut of the Girls Gone Wild series). They don’t make a font small enough to reveal that comfortably to the Interwebs.

Rhode Island – Providence. I remember the name, but the face . . . can’t quite place it.

South Carolina – Driving past South of the Border, screaming at my mother and father to pull over, just as Pedro the Signage Whore had been encouraging me to do since Baltimore.

Tennessee – the Memphis Airport.

– Margaritas on the Riverwalk – extra, extra salt – and the brilliance that is the outdoor mister.

– I don’t think I’ve ever seen landscape more sublime. It might not exist on the planet. Glorious.

Vermont – yeah, New England? I’m not gonna lie. I even called my mom on this one, and she remembers nothing remarkable. We agreed on: colorful leaves.

Virginia – My first week in DC, 1995. Arlington. Driving around my block repeatedly, squeeing each and every time I reached the top of a hill on Route 50, because from there I could see the Washington Monument.

West Virginia – the outlets in Martinsburg. Anyone ever been? You can buy Pyrex bowls and a blue suede miniskirt all before 9 am. Genius.

Wisconsin – I was there for a wedding with my ex, a man who is now long married to another woman from my graduate program. The day after the wedding, he and I drove behind the groom to his family’s home in Appleton. I remember the beautiful green countryside and rolling hills, and thinking just how unbelievably lush it all was, and how I was glad I didn’t live there, because all that quiet and open space might just kill me.


Blogger Gwen said...

You've been to a lot of states, girly. I concur about Utah. It is grotesquely gorgeous.

I used to row (as in crew) on the Chicago river. Dave Matthews notwithstanding (what does notwithstanding mean, anyway? oh well, I'm using it.) This was better than the other crewing spot in the city, where they occasionally fished out dead bodies. That is not an urban legend.

When will BlogHer be in Vegas? I'm voting for that next year.

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

New York: Stealing an ashtray from our hotel room at Le Parker Meridien and sipping a frozen hot chocolate while eating a foot long dog at Serendipity with Walter Mathau at the next table.

Oh, and no wonder you won't visit me in Philadelphia. How on earth can I top that memory (she asks while lifting her shirt up and flashing the office monitor)?

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

New York: Stealing an ashtray from our hotel room at Le Parker Meridien and sipping a frozen hot chocolate while eating a foot long dog at Serendipity with Walter Mathau at the next table.

Oh, and no wonder you won't visit me in Philadelphia. How on earth can I top that memory (she asks while lifting her shirt up and flashing the office monitor)?

Blogger Mamma said...

Frankly, I'm shocked there aren't more airport bar cut-off memories. ;)

And for the record, yes all of us who lived in CT did live like that--even those of us in the western part of the state.

Blogger Chantel said...

You need to come to Oregon. I won't give you any more information as to not sway you're own impression.

Blogger HKW said...

Great list. Indiana resulted in laughter out loud.

Hip hip horray Texas! Recommend you return and visit Austin. Ritas here too and much more.

Blogger Mia said...

I think Texas sounds the best :)

Blogger kitkat said...

I love the South of the Border reference. I've driven up 95 a couple times seeing a giant sign for it every mile. It's not still in operation, is it?

I'd write a similar list, except that most of the states I've been to I have little memory of (lots of driving time).

Blogger t2ed said...

No Nebraska? All the cool kids are doing it.

I have never been cut off at an airport bar, but a friend and I did drink them out of Michelob Light one time. And in Denver too. What a big coinckidink.

Muskingum College in Ohio? You made that up. When you stump the locals, that's saying something. I'll bet they don't have hurricanes though.

Blogger Ulysses said...

Travelogue eh? Well, if you're gonna leave the torturously honest and detailed self analysis gig behind, I guess we could trade.

Blogger Meg said...

Oh there is so much more to Tennessee than the Memphis Airport! And if you visit Mass, never go between November and April, too cold!! That is why I migrated South. I too relate to the South of The Border reference.

Blogger The Red said...

Shame that all you remember of Colorado is that particular instance in the airport. What a beautiful state... you might want to try getting drunk and kicked out of an airport bar in North Dakota. At least then you won't miss anything.

Is there an airport in North Dakota?

Blogger WildbillthePirate said...

I just can't wait for the European version..

Blogger KB said...

South of the Border- we went! It sucked! You had to pay 50cents to go to the bathroom, too. I mean, to use the facilities, anyway.

Utah - oh I couldn't agree more.

You've been to almost as many states as I have. Let me know when South Dakota makes the list ;)

Blogger MereCat said...

That was fun. I felt like I was in a virtual station wagon a la Griswold.

Blogger Beth said...

What about the 51st state: Canada? You have a standing invitation to visit me in British Columbia, you know.

Blogger KlevaBich said...

Chantel beat me to it. Why no Oregon? Or Washington, for that matter. It's beautiful out here, and we have wineries up the wazoo. I'm just sayin'...

Blogger Anna said...

Man...shot through the heart! I'm a Vermonter. You couldn't find anything remarkable but the leaves? It's ok...we are a sleepy little state. ;-)

Blogger Jorge said...

Remember, the proper suthun' way to pronounce it is "GAZE-BOH".

Say it with me now...

Hilarious..but wouldn't Utah qualify as the place with the MOST adult virgins? Given the Mormon church and all.....

Blogger Just Dawn said...

OMG! I LIVE in Appleton!

Blogger thesciencegirl said...

Your description of Chicago is perfect. It's THE BEST place to live for a few months: great weather, free concerts, beautiful downtown area... and then everything freezes over and you start asking yourself why you live here.

Blogger kristy said...

Connecticut really is that pretty, and most people there do live that way. It's kind of idyllic, or at least was until about 1928, when everyone in the state realized they had nothing left to talk about.

Blogger janet said...

I adore this post. Can I go all Winona on you and steal it?

Blogger kris said...

Take it Janet! As long as you promise to have a drink with me, given that we're neighbors. (Which I just realized. Like real neighbors, not just we both live in the area!)

Blogger bandick said...

Speaking of Winona, you need to come to Minnesota which is where she was born (and named after the town of Winona)...

Luckily, you know someone in Minnesota!

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