The Faded Glory of Route 66

Posted on
Oct 4, 2017
 
Posted in: Uncategorized

My immigrant parents, while bestowing upon me the gift of worldliness, with their accents and many passports and the ease with which they code-switched, yelling at one another in English, German, Italian, and Russian, left a glaring omission in my childhood: there was no Americana.

It was not that America itself was absent from my formative years – indeed, it couldn’t be. I was an American, and my home was here. But my parents’ version of this country always had a European slant: my father telling me to go to Katz’s delicatessen, my mother’s knowledge of strange pieces of American pop culture that somehow had made their way across the pond. There was always something missing, some element of the heartland that wasn’t present.

Westward expansion fascinated me, but did not run in my veins.

When my husband first mentioned that we visit part of Route 66 while we were in New Mexico, I was confused. I couldn’t remember if it was real, like The Enchantment Under The Sea dance that I keep thinking is part of historical record and not simply a plot point from Back to the Future.

Later in our trip, at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albequerque.

But that road exists – like Marty McFly it may have faded at bit over the course of its adventures, but it never fully disappeared. It is not what it once was. Then again, none of us are. Roads, at least, can be repaired.

 

When I first saw this iconic strip of land, one that had been immortalized again and again in song and film, it was under repair, choked with traffic. The businesses along it had signs from the road’s heyday that now expressed disapproval of an impending rapid transit system.

 

There were nods to the people who lived here before a belt of asphalt ran through it.

 

There were signs that hearkened to the atomic age, which shaped New Mexico’s past.

 

Later, as the sun set and the sky grew dark, I went to a diner with the most handsome man in the world, and he regaled me with stories that I don’t remember under neon lights.

I think we were talking about Back to the Future. We are almost always talking about Back to the Future.

 

Later, I tried to take a photo of the two of us and failed.

 

Twice.

Some of us are Americans, but we feel excluded from our country’s history for a variety of reasons. I’m lucky enough and privileged enough that I can try and reclaim it. I interject myself into settings that are foreign to my family, and I make them part of my history. It’s a gift. There, on Route 66, with him and those damn eyes of his, I unwrapped it slowly.


Also published on Medium.

Leave a Comment

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • Here it is, folks. The paperback edition of my book is out today. The hardcover came out more than two years ago, so it's wonderful to know that this story of mine still has life and is, gasp, still selling copies. Don't miss the book that Lauren Graham called "the travel companion you'll be happy you brought along" and that some guy on Twitter said was "immature and stupid." It's available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. #bookstagram #summerreading #bookworms
  • This lady. ❤️❤️❤️ So proud of her.
  • HAPPY LAUNCH DAY!! I really want to curl up in bed with this amazing novel today, but I can't - for an amazing reason. Because I'm going to be at the Lake Forest Park location of Third Place Books tonight, discussing it with the author, my dear friend @andreadunlop. Lady, I'm so proud of you. ❤️ ❤️❤️ #bookstagram #summerreading
  • Baking in an AirBnB is always an adventure. I didn't have a measuring cup for the flour so I eyeballed it, and had to use a wine bottle as a rolling pin to make these handpies. Not my best work, but @demeritt and @randderuiter seemed cool with the results, so I'm going to accept that sometimes good enough is, well, enough. 🥧🍴
  • "I hit the jackpot." That's how I once heard Michael J. Fox describe his marriage years ago, and it stayed with me. I've never found a better way of describing our relationship than that. Bells ring. Lights flash. Coins spill everywhere. Now, where's my complimentary breakfast?
  • Someone sent Rand socks with his face all over them, and he's really bothered by this but I'm gonna rock the hell out of them.
  • I told him to stop looking at the camera.
  • Eating junk food on the ferry with this guy right before dinner is kind of the dream.
  • Does it still count as photobombing when you love it?
  • Some hardcore stuff happening in the studio today. #muglife #ceramics

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.

BE AWESOME. BUY IT.