“COVID-19 VACCINE NOT YET AVAILABLE” read the dual MS Word signs that have been hanging on the doors of our local Walgreens for at least a week, possibly longer. I can only imagine the conversation that sparked them, probably held a thousand times daily:
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…
…which was a pleasant place to hang out and get some exercise, but also oddly had far more signs than the average state park. Someone in charge thought, what better way to liven up nature than by footnoting it every few hundred feet?
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, there was a prologue:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…
We’ve already shared the fun true story of our very first Dragon Con in twelve excessive parts, seven of which were devoted to Best Parade Ever. We have a few outtakes tucked away for later use, but for now we’re ready to move on, a week after everyone else already did.
Before we went to Dragon Con, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
Every empty marquee tells a story:
Once upon a time, there was a community gathering place where citizens and neighbors shared adventure, laughter, heartbreak, tension, jingoism, victory, sorrow, dreams, and amazement in a cozy, rarefied atmosphere bereft of stereo sound, digital imagery, comfortable upholstery, or ads teaching you baseline smartphone manners. Many a childhood memory was born there, many a relationship begun there, many a care in the world set aside for two hours inside a temporary escape hatch offering inspiration or respite.
Something something something, and then it closed forever and now it’s an eyesore, and did you hear about the acrimonious lawsuits raging behind closed doors as we speak, but hey, at least we have a Redbox kiosk on every other corner. And they all lived in isolation ever after.
The name of the town changes like a Mad Libs answer. Sometimes the part about the lawsuits is redacted because no one cares enough to sue anyone else over its demise. But the rest of the story is frequently the same.