Thursday, June 08, 2006

Welcome To Alaska

A friend's son is celebrating his high school graduation. They included in the party invitation a short essay by Emily Perl Kinsley called
Welcome To Holland

I am often asked to describe the unique experience of raising a child with a disablility---to try to help people who have not shared the experience to understand it, and to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation--to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo's David. The Gondolas in Venice. You may even learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant announces, 'Welcome to Holland.' 'Holland?' you say. 'What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy...
It really is a useful and gentle orientation to give friends and family.

Destinations may vary however. In our case, we were expecting the Netherlands, would have welcomed Florence, but landed in Fairbanks. In winter. And the Polar bears were hungry.

There is much to say in favor of Alaska, however. The Polar bears encourage a heightened state of alertness, and the howling blizzards cleanse the soul. The view can be spectacular, particularly in the context of a particularly challenging ascent.

No comments: