I believe I discovered the enormity of the world at around five years old. While the physical extent of my travel was limited by certain landmarks such as the grocery store, my grandma’s house, pre-school, the beach and the park, my father was routinely sent on business trips to vast amounts of cities in the world. The norm was for him to be in another city for two weeks, but on occasion his trips would last for one month. Those were the hardest months for my sister and I, and to keep our minds off of his absence we would “travel with him.” Our inquisitive fingers danced along the ridges of the globe that sat in our basement and would land in a city he was in, or had previously been to.
By six, I had traveled with my sister to Paris, London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and Italy, using dolls and other artifacts my father would bring home as references to the cultures that distinguished each. Reflecting upon this particular aspect of my father’s travels, I found Wendt’s take on history within his novel Black Rainbow to be a sufficient reference, especially when he writes, “Strange how we see reality through art and the other cultural baggage we carry” (65). Therefore, our reality is in a sense made up of our own stories, our own encounters with art, music, literature, people, traditions and other cultural “inventory.” Our reality is our history, which is to say that Wendt’s narrator is living in a “dystopia” with a rapidly depleting sense of personal human reality or truth because the goal is for each citizen to sacrifice their history, or their substance.
My reality at a young age was therefore distorted like Wendt’s narrator, solely due to my histories limited experiences. My sister and I would therefore glorify his trips, imagining walks through vivacious streets, and interactions with the most dignified and infamous people of the cities past or present. We assigned different dress to the people we imagined, based on the clothing of the dolls, and gave each certain stereotypical occupations, and stories based on what we had witness as customary in our own home town of Wantagh, Long Island. In a way we created a false world that does not actually exist, it could not possibly exist, similar to the world created by the Tribune.
Furthermore, at a young age, I was under the impression that my father’s purpose of traveling was for pleasure. I knew he was going for “work,” but at the time work was just a factor, not the actual journey, or a force briskly pushing him along like the Tribune. Yet, as I question my father’s personal being as he was traveling in hindsight, it is in fact amply correlated with that of Wendt’s narrator. During his stay at each place, I realize that my father, just like the narrator, would not have “worr[ied] about the rooms not having a view” (23). His purpose and motivation for travel therefore transcended from a magical and awakening experience to one that was centered on a materialistic gain, parallel with the narrator and his “Reference.”
With the history, culture, and adventure lost within business transactions my father’s trips became somewhat robotic; flight, hotel, meeting, dinner, meeting, flight. Thus while the Tribune, and the narrator’s relationship is an extreme, Wendt is forcing us to question the way in which we live our own lives. As our paths are continually changing, and we are compelled to move along them are we truly making decisions for ourselves? Do we really go to school, college, work for our own personal experience? Or do we have our own version of the Tribune today, and “…in their Game of Life, we are fulfilling our pre-programmed roles” (235)?