It’s the village of Kill Devil Hills now, but once upon a time, this open field and grass-covered sand dune had been part of Kitty Hawk—a place made famous when Orville and Wilbur Wright first took to the air. Hundreds of people mill about, walking the trail to the monument, visiting the exhibition hall and visitor center, peering into the reconstructed hangar and workshop.
It’s hard to feel the history here, maybe because the summer sun makes everything hyperbright and hot, so different from the grainy black-and-white photo taken on that December day in 1903 that captured the Wright’s airplane as it wobbled up into the air. Or maybe it’s because of the rows of cars parked in the lot and the masses of people decked out in full beach-tourist regalia.
The air somehow carries a shared sense of pride, like everyone’s proud of Orville and Wilbur, proud of the brothers’ achievement, proud of the inventive spirit that allowed humanity to rise up above itself and above the earth itself. Continue reading →
When the space shuttle Challenger burst into a fireball of horror and history on January 28, 1986, I wasn’t watching the live broadcast. In that sense, I was like most Americans. But unlike most Americans, I was learning about the disaster as quickly as details became available.
That morning marked the first time I had been trusted to lay out page 1 for the newspaper where I was working. I had worked there for four years and wanted to show the editors I could handle the increased responsibility. Continue reading →
I‘m under the sheets. Light jabs through the window on the near wall. Stand on your tiptoes and look out—go on. You’ll see an alley drowning in garbage. While you’re at it, check out the spray-painted slogans. Nice place.
Sun strikes the hanging fichus I won at Coney Island last summer. Leaves, once forest green, hang limp yellow.
Sky behind the window is teal. A cold blue. No clouds. The bedroom door’s locked. A Wal-Mart phone rests on the nightstand.
The TV’s on the dresser, next to my football helmet. Commercials pass by undetected. An oak table supports a tank of rocks, plastic plants, and gravel. There’s no water.
This morning I got an e-mail from a colleague who’s working with the American Dream Movement. Said friend is all-in with the goals and values of the project, but is stepping cautiously where Van Jones, the movement’s leader, is concerned. It’s nothing against Jones personally, I don’t think – my friend seems to admire him a great deal and thinks he’s exceptionally bright and committed. Instead, it’s more a case of the current boyfriend paying for the sins of the last boyfriend. We all know how that goes. Your last boyfriend – let’s call him “Barry” – promised you the sun, the moon and the stars and then he hopped in bed with all the mean girls in the school. How can you ever trust a boy again? Continue reading →