So the summer of '98 was a real roughie-toughie for my family. Both of my grandfathers were very sick and my parents were coping with the imminent death of both of their fathers. I was living in NYC that summer, staying in an NYU dorm and interning at PS 122. I had just cut my hair and pierced my nose, so I thought I was pretty awesome. But I wasn't living at home and so I wasn't necessarily privy to the day-to-day updates on my grandfathers' failing health; all I knew was that the phone call could come at any moment that one or both of them had passed away.
Sometime in July, my mom called to tell me that my Zaydee Sam had died. He was my father's father. My dad drove into the city to pick me up, because we were going to fly down to Florida that next morning. I was thoroughly exhausted at that point and more than mildly overwhelmed by the whole thing. We caught an early flight down to Tampa and the journey was pretty matter-of-fact. Until we started to come in for the landing and I started looking out the window.
I'm not sure if the flight from Newark to Tampa actually flies over the Everglades or not, but all I knew was that we were flying over what looked like lush, swampy forest-like terrain. And all of a sudden I flashed back to my eight grade English class, taught by the aptly-named Mrs. Frost. That spring, we read "The Yearling" by Margaret Rawling. Perhaps you would like to read the first chapter ? Remember -- Jody makes a fluttermill?
Anyhoo, so we're flying over what I assumed were the Everglades, and all I could think was that the Everglades must be simply teeming with Yearlings. And I said, out loud, "Look, Pa! A Fawn!" Which is what Jody said to Daddy Gregory Peck in the movie. And then, something went ka-boing in my head, and all I could think of was: what would happen if all the Yearlings busted out of the Everglades and you saw them all over Florida? Like, there would be Yearlings shopping at the Piggly Wiggly; Yearlings waiting on line at Disneyworld; Yearlings dancing in the discos in South Beach.
I started laughing hysterically -- the Yearling fantasy was an emotional release; a catalyst of sorts. And I got completely insane, like I went way over the deep end and everyone on the plane was staring at me. "She just lost her grandfather," my mother tried to explain. Although that explanation would have warranted weeping, not insane maniac laughter.
Heh. Yearlings. Heh.
Look, Pa -- a fawn!