My Week Without Comics, by Martha Thomases
You may have noticed that my quick wit and adorable charm were missing from this site for a few days last week. From May 11 through May 19, I was away on vacation. It was the first time my sweetie and I have been away alone together for more than a few days since our son was born.
Not that we haven’t been on any vacations. We’ve had great times with the boy (who, riding horses with Holly Gaiman at Walt Disney World, sang the entire soundtrack to The Lion King), and with family and friends. But I hadn’t had any time alone to roll in my sweet baby’s arms, and we needed it.
To be a real vacation, a trip should totally take you away from your regular life. It should provide experiences that are different from the day-to-day, and that help you look at the world anew. We had a few days to ourselves on our tenth wedding anniversary, in 1990, when we biked through the Finger Lakes area in New York. It was so much fun that we explored doing something like that again. Spending a week on a bicycle, riding through small towns and countryside with a group of strangers, seemed about as foreign to crowded Manhattan as it was possible to get. We decided to take the train back and forth, so we kept our energy use down and kept the money in the USA. Less guilt!
There was only one small problem: no comics. We were in Beaufort, South Carolina, on Wednesday, and none of the people with whom we were biking knew it was New Comic Book Day. There was no comic book store I could find in Beaufort, nor in Edisto Island, where we were riding. Cell phone coverage and Internet were sporadic at best, so I couldn’t use the Comic Book Locator.
To be honest, I didn’t want to. I barely knew it was Wednesday. My mind was on my ride, and my next meal. My senses were overloaded. Not only was the food different (why a Jewish girl from Ohio gets so excited about eating grits is probably a subject for a doctoral thesis in sociology), but also the smells and the birds and the sounds were different. A fragrant plant called confederate jasmine grew everywhere, and, so far, is my favorite of any thing confederate. We saw hawks, and storks, and pelicans, and red-winged blackbirds. We saw squirrels so shy they’d never last a weekend in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Being on a bicycle felt like a super-power. Hey, walking around in bike shorts is enough to make anyone feel like her anatomy is super-charged. I haven’t ridden much over the last decade or so because Manhattan traffic scares me. There are these cars that pull over and open their doors without notice, and it can hurt a lot if you smash into them without another car wrapped around you. But, on the open road, a bicycle lets you move really fast without using any other source of power but your own legs. You don’t notice that you’re sweating because the wind dries you immediately. With my helmet, my smooth transport and my speed, I felt like a combination of the Silver Surfer and Golden Age Flash.
The people I was with had no idea what was going through my head about this. When we’d come across a particularly beautiful vista, or the end of a ride, I’d sing out, “Whoo Hoo!” as if I was Homer Simpson. It was as close to coming out of the comics closet as I got. I also went an entire week without talking about politics with anyone, so my elitist ultra-liberal dirty hippieness remained on the down low.
It’s a wonderful way to spend some time off, if you have any. You’ll meet amazing people, and you’ll surprise yourself by what your body can do when you let it. I’m very happy to have a body.
And it’s great to be back in New York.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess of ComicMix, suspects this column alone won’t let her claim her vacation was a business expense.