13 March 2009

Full of dreams to last the years

It was a quiet shift last night. I have a book with me - at the moment it’s Paul Theroux’x Ghost Train to the Eastern Star - but I rarely read in the cab, even if it’s such a rattling good railway story as this.

Instead I succumbed to my romantic side and watched one of my favorite movies, reduced to a splinter of its original self on my iPhone, but still as grand a love story as you can get. In fact, just the thought that I had it ready to play when I got a spare couple of hours had inspired me to download a song to match.

Perry Como, my patron saint of sentiment, singing with the aid of a bass-voiced backer:
You pray that you will find
Someone warm and sweet and kind

I’ve met her on three continents now: child of New York, English language teacher in Japan, intrepid Greyhound explorer of Australia. She’s as much in love with travel, the world and its people as I am, and she is the sort of someone Perry Como would have us find.

I staid with her in Japan, sleeping on the couch in her tiny living room at night while by day we explored Hiroshima and climbed up to the pagodaed peak of Osaka Castle. I took a picture of her smiling out over a smoggy city. She had been there several times before, but was happy to guide yet another visitor up.

Cari atop Osaka Castle

I’ll be forever catching up to Cari, I think. She’s seen more of my country than I have, and she’s off to Antarctica later this year. My travels usually involve revisiting the same places, and I’m only half joking when I say that I have a favorite luggage trolley at all the great airports. My last world tour, there was only one new destination for me. But what a place!
The bluest skies you’ll ever see are in Seattle
And the hills the greenest green...

So I watched Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle when I had time, and listened to Perry Como when I could only sneak a couple of minutes.

There were a few people I wanted to meet in Seattle, and the thought of visiting the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field was a bonus to an aviation nut like me, but mostly because it was a place I’d always longed to see ever since I learnt how to pronounce it properly. And to check out those blue skies.

The movie (and the song) were a way of revisiting this fascinating place, and I cherished the scenes where I could recognise landmarks. The Space Needle, of course, and Pikes Place Market, where Tom Hanks discussed the cuteness of his bum with a coworker and some years later I posed Ringbear for a night shot.

I loved Seattle. The Museum of Flight was all I could hope for, and I got to board a Concorde. The Space Needle was delightfully hokey, one of those Sixties visions of what the future would be like, but it had the most stunning view over Seattle. Forests, lakes, mountains bordered the corporate home of Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks. At one stage I looked out and there, just clearing itself out of the clouds, was the biggest mountain I’d ever seen. It was so much a part of the sky that at first I thought Mount Rainier was a cloud. I stood goggle-eyed.

I loved Seattle. So the song and the movie brought back some happy memories.

At a couple of points in the movie, a little map of the USA appeared, and a planetrail of dots showed the characters flying from Seattle to New York. That was me in October, and Cari was there to meet me that evening, sharing a dinner before I cabbed it back to my Harlem hostel.

The next day we did a bunch of touristy things, including a visit to the Empire State Building, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan began their shared life together.

Get this. Cari, born in New York, lived there for most of her life, at home on the viewing platforms of towers across the world, had never been to the top of the Empire State Building. She actually called her mother while we were there to report the fact!

Cari on top of the world

My day in Seattle and my guided tour of Manhattan: days to sparkle in my memory.
Never knew a day so fair,
It makes you feel so proud that you could cry!

I’ll admit it. There were tears in my eyes when the closing credits rolled, reflecting those when I hugged Cari goodbye before boarding the long evening flight to Sydney.

Back to my everyday world of cabdriving. Back to my days of smiling dreams of wonderful people and places.

I wonder if there are any sweet romantic films of New York?

1 comment:

G.S. said...

How about "The Clock" (Judy Garland) or "Serendipity" (John Cusak)?