Friday, October 26, 2007

Remembering Déja Vu

Back in Texas. I like Dallas in the fall / winter, when it's not so blasted hot.

As we ride in the van from the airport, I'm reminded of some history here. For some reason, I've spent time in Texas when training on two of the airplanes I've flown in my career. The first time was almost a decade ago, when I flew a simulator in Houston for training on the Embraer E-120 Brasilia for Great Lakes. My next job was at Air Wisconsin, and I did my simulator training for the Dornier 328 a couple years later here in Dallas.

I have distinct memories from that second training period. I had moved from a miserable company to a much nicer and more professional one, and that professionalism extended (naturally) to its training department, which was an absolute breath of fresh air after the corporate spanking machine of Great Lakes. Simulator training for the Dornier was enlightening and challenging and fun--this was something new for me.

That comparative light-heartedness (training is always a bit arduous and stressful) enabled me to take a day here and there to do some exploring. I was able to visit a church where my favorite single CD in my whole music collection was recorded, the Complete Organ Works of Maurice Duruflé recorded on a medium-sized Schudi organ at the St. Thomas Aquinas church here in Dallas. I drove over one day and was able to look closely at, and to play on, this instrument which I knew so well from the recording. Call me a geek, but this was an absolute thrill.

On a different day, I was driving around downtown with my training partner, trying to get to the Meyerson Symphony Center where a new and magnificent C.B. Fisk organ had been recently installed, and from which I had several hot-off-the-presses CDs. In that instance, we were not allowed in, but there was an ancillary payoff: As I drove away from the Meyerson and tried to feel my way back toward the freeway system, I rounded a corner and suddenly felt myself overwhelmed with a sense of deja vu, something that isn't a usual occurrence for me. I knew I had never been in Dallas before, so I was doubly puzzled, almost panicked at some throbbing but ill-defined sense of moment.

After a couple seconds it hit me: I had inadvertently stumbled upon John F. Kennedy's route through Dallas on that fateful day in 1963, and I had just turned in front of the famed Book Depository and was passing the Grassy Knoll. Though I was familiar with these events, of course, the subject was nowhere in my consciousness at that moment (or during my the whole of my visit to Dallas, for that matter, until that instant). My deja vu was from three decades of photos and TV shows and movies which showed this small area, enough that it had a ghostly familiarity about it in spite of my having never previously set eyes on the place. We promptly pulled over--my buddy had no idea what I was suddenly babbling about--and spent half an hour marveling at the serendipity of our being there so unwittingly. The sense of history was palpable, not least because the site seemed so random and so real, so not primped or disney-fied in any way. It's just an on-ramp by a warehouse.

We drove our rental car back to the hotel and treated ourselves to a Texas-sized steak and one-pound baked potato. Texas may be a fucked-up place, but lordy, they know how to eat.


No comments: