Gateway for Dana

November 6, 2005


It’s Friday. And we’re on the road from Overland Park to Carbondale, Illinois. Well, alright. We’re not on the way. As I write this, I’m in a hotel in Carbondale. And it’s not Friday. It’s Sunday. But let’s willingly suspend our disbelief – just for a moment.

When we drove across Missouri, CJ and D wanted to stop at the Gatewar Arch in St. Louis. Since we knew we were going to be way ahead of schedule, I thought the Arch would be a great rest stop. So before we left, CJ bought tickets for the tram ride to the top of the Arch.

When we arrived, the weather was beautiful. the sun was shining and the park was lined with trees in their full autumn colors. It was magnificent. That’s when I played stupid at the entrance.

Since the Arch is a major monument in America, they have installed sensors and detectors to prevent terrorist incidents. Well, I forgot to consider this an airport. So I walked through the sensor array without even giving it a second thought. The fact that I did this is amazing. It means that I fully trust the gizmo in my chest. Actually, it means that I mostly forget about it. That’s a great place for me to be (vis-a-vis my defibrilator). Of course, I really shouldn’t walk through magnetic sensors. The alarms sounded and the guards assembled while they gave me a pat-down search. Oh well. That’s the price of not paying attention.

Fortunately, there was no harm done – although I got extremely nervous. I thougght about what might have happened. And my last thoughts as I fell asleep were meandering thoughts about my ICD. So when I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night, I thought I felt a shock. I didn’t. But phantom shocks aren’t unusual. And the mind plays some funny tricks on you if you’re not careful.

Back to the story…

We rode to the top of the Arch. CJ and D were impressed – at least, a little bit. And the ride and view made me remember when I first rode the tram to the top of the Arch over thirty-five years ago. The view was beautiful – albeit through tiny window slits. CJ and D got a little claustrophobic on the ride down as there were five of us crammed into the little tram car.

When we got to the bottom, we took pictures and goofed around a bit. And I started musing. With the fall leaves on the trees, I thought about changes. And since we were going to D’s official visit at SIUC, I thought about the changes in her life. As she stood under the Gateway Arch, she truly was at a “gateway” moment in her life. She will be moving from high school to college in a matter of months. And the St. Louis Arch was an immense metaphor for the decisions that she will be making.

On Wednesday, she will sign her NCAA Letter of Intent. And then she’ll be committed on a path for the next four or five yealrs. And just as she walked under the arch, she will pass through her other transition point. The change will be almost unnoticeable. She may never even recognize it as a “point in time” event. But the Arch made me see a fleeting point in time in a very graphic way.




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