“Mondo, Mondo, Where Have You Been?”

“Up to Terpville and back again.”

Friday morning, I set out for the airport in Greenville-Spartanburg, in order to spend the first half of my Spring Break visiting the Spawn at her new apartment. The drive was easy enough, and mirabile dictu, I made it through the TSA line without heavy petting being necessary. Mrs. M and I seem to have a knack for drawing extra attention during this process, but apparently the scanner gods decided to cut me some slack.

I was slightly chagrined to discover that my plan to grab lunch before takeoff wasn’t to be. In fact, the restaurant nearest my gate was still in breakfast mode, and would remain so until well past boarding time. “Ah, well,” I figured. “I’ll just get by on the in-flight snack.”

Guess again. There was mild turbulence for the flight’s duration, which meant a refreshment-free flight. On the upside, there was enough space on the flight for me to get an aisle seat with no one next to me. I’m always self-conscious about my size when I fly; I do fit in the seat, but I always feel like I’m crowding anyone sitting next to me, so I scrunch myself up and wind up with sore hip flexors. Not this time, though — I was able to relax, at least as much as one does during a bumpy flight.

Upon my arrival at the BWI airport, I caught the shuttle to the car rental terminal. Given that I’ve taken a tumble at least once while disembarking from the shuttle, I got off the bus rather gingerly — but successfully. I rented from a car service I hadn’t used before, but the process was quick and efficient, and before long, I was navigating my way to the Spawn’s new digs.

The new place is only a few miles from her old one, but it’s in a different municipality. Greenbelt, MD has its origins in the New Deal, one of three cooperative communities dreamed up by one Rexford Guy Tugwell, who in 1935 was Undersecretary of Agriculture (and with a name like that, could he really have been anything other?) The architecture at the town’s core is a mix of Deco, Streamline, and Bauhaus, and the city’s origins persist in the form of co-op grocery and community-owned movie theater (along with a couple of buildings named after Eleanor Roosevelt). It’s seen as one of the first planned communities, and in that regard may be a forerunner of the current planners’ obsession with the so-called “15-minute city.” Because I have an interest in history, I found the place intriguing; because I am deeply suspicious of centralized planning and collectivism, I also found it a little creepy, particularly with places called “Roosevelt Center” and the New Deal Cafe. I didn’t hear anyone praising “Dear Leader,” however, so it could have been much creepier.

The Spawn’s spacious new digs are a few blocks from the historic core, in an apartment complex that looks to date from the 1970s or so. (A quick look indicates I was close — the complex was built in 1967, so it’s two years younger than I am, and in no worse shape.) I was welcomed by the Spawn and Squeeze, but the latter was going to visit some of her family over the weekend, leaving the place for Daddy-Daughter hangout time. Having gone without lunch, I was a bit peckish, so I took the girls to a nearby IHOP for dinner, followed by a trip to a (privately owned) supermarket for a few more provisions. The rest of the evening completed my settling-in process.


The Squeeze left the next morning for points north, turning things over to the Spawn and me. I got lunch at a location of one of my folks’ favorite fast-food chains, a move I’d repeat several more times over the next few days. After lunch, the Spawn and I decided to indulge our inner geeks, and visited the nearby NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Well, the Visitors’ Center, in any case. For some reason, they’re a little reluctant to let random tourists wander around where the heavy business is going down. (“Say, what does this button do?”) The Visitors’ Center had its share of reflective surfaces, which worked well for us.

Unsurprisingly, I had a great time — those who know me know that I’m a big cheerleader for the Space program. Between the Apollo program of my childhood and being a 3rd-generation sf reader, I suppose it was inevitable, and I’ll freely confess to the awe and wonder I felt as I looked at a moon rock the center had on display.

We can’t go back soon enough for me. (Photo by the Spawn)

From there we ran a few errands, listened to some music, and talked into the night. I couldn’t ask for better.


Sunday was another day of relaxing around the apartment — after all, since the Spawn has a 9 to 5 now, she deserves whatever slack she can get. I had supper that night at a restaurant in the historic section of Greenbelt. Generous Joe’s Deli has been in its current spot since about 1964, and is run by the son of the place’s founder and namesake. I can vouch for the meat calzone, and for the friendly service. I love to eat at places like this, and the fact that it’s in one of those historic buildings I mentioned doesn’t hurt.

The deli is in a similar building around the corner.

Monday, the Spawn was working, so I hit a comic book store, where I found a graphic novel/omnibus volume of Astro City, one of my favorite comic series. The clerk was friendly, complimenting me on my Harlan Ellison T-shirt and throwing in a sticker of the store’s mascot, which will soon find an honored place on my office fridge alongside my various stickers from past gigs. The book was a little pricier than I might have liked, but I chalked it up as a souvenir. From there, I had lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Chinese buffet that Mrs. M visit whenever we’re in town. I went from there to the CD shop next door, but I had spent enough money on the book and my knee was starting to bug me, so I made my way back to the apartment, where we spent a quiet afternoon and evening.

That brought us to yesterday. I tried to minimize any distraction for the Spawn as I packed up and made one last lunchtime run to Checkers. I refueled the rental and made it to the airport gate without taking any tumbles, although this time I did get an upper body patdown from the TSA folks. I can only wonder what will happen if and when I get the knee replacement I’ve been considering. After collecting my luggage and making the hour’s drive back to Mondoville, I found myself in my customary downstairs chair by about 7:30 last night, with the second half of my break (and a lot of grading) ahead of me.

So here we are. As always, I treasured the time I got to spend with the Spawn, and wish there could have been more. However, she has her living to earn, and that means we probably got it right, yes? So see you soon, Em — I love you.

And I’ll close this one with one of the songs the Spawn requested on my Spotify as we drove around on Saturday. The track is from the Australian band Mr. Brown, and this is the only song of theirs I know, but Em and I both love it. Here’s “Weird Scene.”

See you soon!

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Education, Family, Literature, Music, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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