When I was young

When I back in New Orleans for Mardi Gras–my first in twenty years and the kids first ever–my mother insisted that we go to the Lakefront airport.  When I was a kid, I was fascinated with planes trains and automobiles just like every other kid that had the giant Richard Smiley books.  My mom (or maybe my dad or both) used to take me to the observation deck at the lakefront airport so that I could watch the planes take-off and land.  I remember this vividly and what’s incredible about this memory is that what really makes it stand out isn’t the airplanes themselves which, if I’m being perfectly honest don’t really stand-out after all these years.  What is crystal clear in my mind 40 odd years later is the drive to the airport over the high bridge over the industrial canal, into the parking lot of this structure with these monolithic white walls and through the lobby of what I would later find out was an art deco masterpiece.  I saw that building in coutless dreams throughout my life in fact.  It was the keystone image for my internal idea of what the future was supposed to look like.

As time passed, the vision of that art deco hall mutated into many other things, but it was always a symbol for the comings and goings of people and things.  My own Kings Cross station or better yet, (if I’m going to use an HP reference) its been my subconscious’ room of requirement, always ready to morph itself into a familiar place but somehow always retaining it’s distinct character as remembered through the eyes of a small child.  Last year I dreamt that we were living in New York and the Grand Central of my dream where I would change trains was a childhood remembrance of the Lakefront Airport.  A few years before that I woke from another dream when I realized the lobby of the Lidmar hotel in Stockholm (gone for easily 10 years now) bore a striking resemblance to the Lakefront airport.  

So of course when my mom suggested we go and look around after the post Katrina restoration I felt a surge of excitement punctuated by a wave of fear.  I cherish the vision of this place I’ve had locked in my head for all of the years.  I know it’s not real but I never needed it to be real either.  Curiosity got the best of me in the end and we drove out there.  I can’t fully explain why visiting this childhood place of wonder–this magical place subconsciously kept under lock in key deep in my memory and released every once in a while over the last four decades–this whisper that breaks into a thousand pieces the second I open my eyes–would have caused my heart to ache.

But there I was, walking though this fragmented memory turned reality and a singular thought began to spin in my head as I watched Ester peer out at the airplanes on the runway.

I want to be a kid again.  I want a do-over.  I want one more shot and I promise, if I get the chance, this time I’ll play harder.  I promise I’ll dream bigger.  I promise I’ll build more.  I promise I’ll give my mom more kisses.  I won’t pick fights this time and I swear I won’t ever watch tv.  It all went all wrong at some point last round and it went way to fast and I think I deserve a do-over.   I had a sense of wonder when I was young.  I was curious and I was good and I thought anything was possible when I was young.  Can’t I have that back?  I promise I’ll be good.  

Mamiya 6MF at 50mm on Tri-X at 800.  Processed by the Icon. 

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