Yesterday as I was zipping down New York City’s Westside Highway in a cab, we passed the Intrepid and I thought about the night before when I’d been on it for the first time at a Random House BEA party. How magical, I thought dreamily, to have finally been on that remarkable vehicle I’d passed by so often, a real-life sea-based version of how I imagined Philip Reeve’s Traction Cities.
“There’s the real one.” my driver pointed out. And indeed, just beyond the museum aircraft carrier where I’d watched the sun set, was the still-active USS New York which had just arrived for Fleet Week; I could see all the sailors in their dress whites standing formally at the rails. Two of these massive “islands” of the sea (as my driver termed them and I concur) next to each other — wow was my inarticulate reaction.
“I was picked up by that one,” my driver went on. At age twelve, he told me, he’d been on a boat along with his younger sister and 100 other people fleeing Vietnam in the early 80s when the carrier picked them up. It was like an island, he kept saying, bigger than the ones they passed on their way to the Philippines. His parents? Oh, they came a few years later, he told me. After a few more gentle exchanges I was at my destination and we parted ways. But boy oh boy oh boy.