I was eight and a half and it was 1989.
We piled in to the back of my mom’s brand new forrest green Buick Skylark with the tan seats and the power windows. And we hit the road. My mom and my grandma and my bad perm and me. We were on our way to Seabrook, New Hampshire, which by the way and in case you didn’t know, is famous for only two things: its nuclear power plant and dog racing.
But those were the kind of vacations we took back in those days. And I loved every minute of it.
I sat in the back with my brand new, crisp Rand McNally road atlas and a fat yellow highlighter pen. I loved the sound the pages made as I turned them one by one, and dreamed about what new adventures each state would hold for us. When all was said & done there were 10 states that we would pass through on our way to Seabrook, NH and I studied them one by one. Maryland…. Pennsylvania….. NEW JERSEY! And ten glorious opportunities for adventure. I took my fat yellow highlighter and I charted our progress onward.
Because I didn’t want to miss a thing.
At every state sign, declaring “Welcome to New York- The Empire State” or “Connecticut-Home of the Nutmeggers,” my mom would coast that Buick Skylark over to the side of the road. And I would scramble to unbuckle my seat belt and find a nice place on the guard rail to sit & pose with my new state. Because see, they were ALL my states now. And I Ioved each and every one of them. Sometimes I would throw my arms up like Vanna White, sometimes I would sit and grab a knee in a very New Kids on the Block-esque manner. But I always got my picture.
Because I wanted to remember that I was there. And that… at least as far as me & my bad perm were concerned… it counted.
And I guess deep down, that’s why I’m still like that today.
So I will have Justin coast the trailer off to the side of the road so that I can pose Vanna White style by a cactus, make Julia & Shyla pretend to be attacked by a giant metal rattlesnake, have all of us go in search of the center of the world. And they do it because they are the world’s best friends. And I am so lucky to have them along on this adventure with me.
Because they understand that I don’t want to miss a thing. That I want to remember that we were there. And that…at least as far as me & my scraggly hair that’s very much in need of a trim & color right now are concerned…it counted.
It always counted.
On the border of Arizona & California just as you cross the state line, there is the small town of Felicity, CA. Population 6. And it has been declared the official, honest to goodness Center of the World.
The man who founded Felicity (and later went on to be elected mayor) named the town after his beautiful wife (pictured right). She is a Wellesley grad. And he went to Princeton.
The official center of the world is marked by a small plaque on the floor in the center of this 20ft tall pyramid. Some other interesting sights at the center of the world are a sun dial in the shape of God’s arm from the painting in the Sistine Chapel and a spiral staircase to nowhere from the actual original steps in the Eiffel Tower.
When you set foot on the center of the world, you receive a handshake, a certificate and permission to make one wish. I’d tell you what I wished for, but then it wouldn’t come true.
The town of Felicity has one church for its 6 residents. But because they wanted to make it a place of reverence, they brought in 150,000 TONS of dirt to create a hill to build it on.
Perhaps the most important goal for the people of Felicity, is this project that they are working on to carve the history of humanity on to these giant marble slabs so that future generations will always have it as a reminder. I have to be honest, that when we went in search of the Center of the World we were expecting a cheesy tourist trap. But as soon as we started exploring these marble slabs, everything changed.
More on that to come…