Nowhere does time crystalize as it does at airport terminals. This empty space that is neither here nor there. This no man’s land that belongs to no country and to all countries serves only as a point of passage. A step in one direction or another.
Suspended in time, acutely aware of the minutes that pass us by, we wait. Mostly these vacant hours are spent trying to read, sleep or finally organize that pesky desktop folder that grows more convoluted with every new document saved, but sometimes these four walls of interminable waiting are filled by something else.
The boxcar doors were opened, and the doorways framed the loveliest city that most of the Americans had ever seen. The skyline was intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd. It looked like a Sunday school picture of Heaven to Billy Pilgrim.
Somebody behind him in the boxcar said, “Oz.” That was I. That was me. The only other city I’d ever seen was Indianapolis, Indiana.
For my mother and to my grandmother for paving the path that I now follow.
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and he pushed,
And they flew.
Feeding a picky eight year old can be hard. Feeding a picky eight year old visiting her potato-growing grandma is a whole other story. A Tex-Mex and Chinese guzzling eight year old just cannot understand her grandma’s cuisine philosophy. Especially if they are as follows:
- Use only Salt and pepper for spices
- Serve every meal with boiled potatoes and carrots.
- Eat fish every day except Sunday. Then you can eat salmon (No. This is not fish.)
And so after many days of sitting potty-mouthed at the table, and then secretly stealing lefse after every meal. We reached a compromise. My sister and I would eat three things: 1.Mashed potatoes and sausage 2. Meat balls and 3. Fleskepannekaker (Norwgian pancakes cooked in bacon fat)
At 17, I was a bonafide Norwegian fish monger. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite the fishmonger my ancestors would be proud of. There was no hawking of my wares from a gently swaying boat along the harbor to hungry housewives. Instead, I mostly sold to tourists who mostly bought small opened faced sandwiches, and sometimes gave me a hard time for selling whale.
In my booth, there were no foul-mouthed sailors staring out to sea to ensure their safe voyage back home. I sold fish with Santiago from Uruguay, always drinking mate, Eduardo from Barcelona, always smoking and sometimes singing “Singing in the Rain” with me when the weather was really terrible — which was most of the time. Out of 15 employees, there was one other Norwegian.
Let me take you on a journey through Italy’s olive groves.
We’ll start beyond the boot, across the strait of Mesina in Sicily. You’ll step sweating out of a broken-down dilapidated car and follow an old man in a newspaper boy’s cap up a dirt road. He’ll tell you in a dialect that seems more Arabic than Italian that here olives are grown up to 700-800m above sea level and this year alone they have grown olives on 160,000 ha.
You’ll look at the stout twisted porous trunks and the patches of yellow grass surrounded by dirt and wonder at the wealth of olives weighing down the branches to near breaking point. You’ll fix the car and continue. Across the strait in Calabria the rolling hills and huge olive groves continue.