My First Trip

Chris Andersson, a friend and former professor of mine, is studying travel blogs for his final project in a graduate-level class on blogging at Trinity College, and he’s asked for readers to contribute stories about their first trips. Check out his blog here, and leave a comment with your stories to keep the discussion going and give him some good material to work with. I’ve left a comment there, and will also use this post to more fully flesh out the first trip I took - a road trip from Las Vegas to Disneyland and then further south to Tijuana, Mexico before returning home.

I was very young - a child, even. Five, maybe (though my parents might dispute this). And thinking on this further, I couldn’t have been five, unless my brother was only two years old. This means that the experience I am about to describe could not possibly have been my first trip. Because I know for certain that I traveled to Cape Cod when I was actually five (during winter break from kindergarten).

So, well, I guess what I am saying is I find this trip down memory lane to be problematic.

How can I know what my first trip was? By accepting that I couldn’t possibly remember details from the real first trip, I am accepting the fact that whatever story I tell will ultimately be something of a lie. I end up picking a trip that I remember a little more clearly, or one that is to a more exotic location, or has a funnier story that reinforces some interesting and admirable aspect of my personality - which could even be humility or self-deprecating humor (telling a story about diarrhea, for instance. For the record, I am not calling Chris’s story out as a falsehood, just using it to illustrate this last point).

It’s the same with other “firsts” - first kiss, first sexual experience, first movie, first concert experience (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out of Their Shells Tour is always my answer to that even though it happened in 1990, and I had definitely been to concerts before then).

Even when we ask others the question, “What was your first...?” we tend to qualify it with, “Well, it doesn’t have to be the first, just, you know...”. Because on television, in movies and books and plays, the characters DO have these memorable firsts - these transformative, memorable, hyper-real experiences - and we think we need them, too. And so, in the interest of constructing a perfect narrative out of the chaotic tangential truth of our lives, we pick and choose memories to turn into events and highlight as important. Sometimes we will combine a couple events, change the years, add even more famous people or incredible happenings, in order to be able to share a story rather than something as mundane as the following:
My first trip was when I was one and a half years old. My parents took me from New York, where I lived at the time, to Massachusetts to visit my mother’s parents. I don't really remember it.
Instead, I choose to tell about a trip to an exotic location (Tijuana), that conveniently is also cool to laugh about in popular culture because of its decrepit-ness-osity, right after a trip to a really magical place (Disneyland) that actually sucked (because it was raining), so I can say how (surprisingly!) I liked Tijuana better because Disneyland was just standing in line in goofy trashbag ponchos, and Tijuana was fully of people that smelled bad and cab drivers that ripped you off and Tequila and scorpion-filled lollipops and little children (I guess even younger than my five years!) trying to sell Chiclets. And then I would tell about how, even though my parents spent a bundle on souvenirs from Disneyland (including a photograph from the Space Mountain roller coaster - which I hated! - but somehow was allowed on even though I was five!), the best thing I brought home from the trip was a cheap (mere pesos!) marionette I named Pedro Hernandez (just this second), and which I immediately destroyed by tangling the strings past the point of no return.

All of which is extremely interesting and funny. Some of which is true. And my memory of this trip is complicated by the fact that I have a very strong recollection of watching Captain EO (starring Michael Jackson, who I adored at the time) in 3D, which was released in 1986 (I was born in 1983).

I should say seems to complicate things, however, because the “truth” is, this movie was shown at Disneyland until 1997. And now, in the interest of bringing this story to a close, I have embedded Captain EO at the end of this post for your viewing pleasure.

Of course, this is not to say there is anything at all wrong about lying to people and to yourself to make your life easier to comprehend, but isn’t it all a bit curious?

And isn’t it a little, well, peculiar that in a post entitled “My First Time,” Chris writes about pooping on an airplane.

I mean to say, what if that story is a metaphor.

I mean, really. What if?

Perhaps these stories hide more truth than is first evident, after all. Hmm.

As promised, Captain EO (3D glasses not included, sorry).

Captain EO on YouTube