(A present-tense tale from June 22).
Today we soar above eagles, hawks and giants. Though frightened, we step onto the cloudtops as if propelled by God’s right hand. It is not a smooth journey as our chariot rides the rickety rails toward heaven’s destination.
Today we walk on the wings of Cindy, June’s tropical storm that washed the Gulf Coast clean. The shades of gray range from drab only to dull near the terrain. Sunny days are not the norm until you clear the storm horizon. However later today we will touch down where Blue Jays play, where winter dominates and where french lessons are free.
But tonight’s slumber takes us on a magical mystery tour beyond the Fab Four, beyond the channel and south of the tower. From this aerial arc against the clock, we will settle near a perfect sunrise on the shores of the great sea that touches the founding countries so often discussed in history books: Egypt and Italy.
As I spy Evansville, Bloomington and brickyard, my heart flashes to a fallen family member who was in many ways my twin cousin. Victoria and I were nearly the same age and shared amazing summers together with my brothers and her sister. Despite a variety of ages, Victoria and I, the youngest pups of our generation, blended well with the teens and their troubles.
Because of our parents and grandparents in nearby Richmond, Indiana, our generation thrived on outdoor events, including family baseball, tennis, golf, hide-and-seek and the famous strawberry picking expedition that Aunt Mert organized for us. Among those I love dearly in the Samuels family, Aunt Mert holds a special place because of her selfless attitude and consistent generousity.
My love for Gordon, Mert and their wonderous daughters, Susie and Victoria, may never bring back the loss of my twin. But love continues to pour out to them because of the love and quality they have displayed in good times and bad. Victoria’s unexpected death on Aug. 3, 2014, broke my heart and left my soul crying for months. She remains a Samuels legend who will be praised and missed forever.
My apologies for not being in your daily life at that time, Vickie. I so wish I could have given you the missing ingredient to win that day. In my mind, you and our grandmother Lucille Samuels held many common characteristics, including a boldness, inner strength and massive skill set. Your spirit lives on in your outstanding sister, Susie, and many others in our family. They now pursue goals with you in mind. May they be blessed and reach their goals and dreams.
After this, our rocket ship continued northeast over the scrappy towns of Marion, Anderson and Muncie, all of which hold stature in the lore of Indiana history. Muncie Central High School has been a powerhouse athletic program and probably won more basketball championships than any other school in the Hoosier state.
Marion is rumored to the sacred site when this tiny farm town defeated Muncie Central and many larger basketball powers some 60+ years ago in a tale that eventually became the movie Hoosiers. And Anderson is famous not for its roundball footnotes, but for the birth of my brother.
But it is the home of the Red Devils that calls me home, and I will return soon to share my love and hope with the great elders who settled along Route 66 and farther east to Dayton. Though this industrial town calls me home, I must resist for now to chase Spain’s golden legacy.
By late afternoon, Blue Jay country reigns me in as we refuel for an overnight puddle jump. The maple capital regales us with superb culinary samples, delivered in a crowded box unable to contain my traveling co-horts. A new friend from Alabama gladly how his home in Huntsville had grown into another Silicon Valley, thanks to NASA and its enormous contractor base.
The night was spent spiraling ng into dusk and midnight’s darkest hour over the Atlantic fishery. Six hours of cruising toward a single goal despite the formless waves and islands. By dawn’s birth, french vineyards gave testimony to another productive season. The oranges and yellows of the day’s stunning arrival shocks the sleepy-eyed laggard lumbering through the night unprepared for the dawn’s knock.
Finally Spain’s homeland comes into view, and we set our sights near the Mediterranean coast and the history built of stone architectural masterpieces dating to the birth of Jesus Christ. With a kick of the gear and a call to idle the engine after nearly 7.5 hours of cutting a hole at 32,000 feet, we step on terra firma once more, eager to start the journey of life, death and flight.
And we completed day one with a step onto Barcelona’s precision soil, home to soccer legend Lionel Messi, history and the home of grand, new type of education founded this year. More on that soon.