Richmond, Indiana

It took longer than I had hoped to get around this morning — a few last things to throw in the moving container — deposit some checks in the bank in St. Charles — a few last-minute things to clean in the apartment. At last everything was done, and I went and celebrated by having brunch at Egg Harbor Cafe on Third Street in Geneva: three blueberry pancakes with lots of butter, two eggs over easy, and a side of bacon. A good midwestern breakfast. Then I drove over the Fox River one last time, headed east on State Street, headed for the Atlantic Ocean.

Driving was pretty horrendous. The Tri-State Tollway was all backed up from the construction south of Chicago. And Interstate 70 is down to one lane in three places from Indianapolis. Fortunately, my sister called me on the cell phone and told me how to avoid the construction on I-70 around Richmond. But even so, I spent about two hours today crawling in traffic. Which is unpleasant in a car that has no air conditioning.

But at last I made it to Richmond, Indiana, where my older sister Jean lives. I chatted with her and her husband Dick, catching up on the latest review of Jean’s new book, the state of Dick’s new photography studio, and talking about the drive east.

Just in passing, Jean said something about cars and air conditioning. “Jean,” I said, “You know what kind of air conditioning I have in my car.”

“What?” she said, giving me a kind of deer-in-the-headlights look.

“465 air conditioning,” I said.

“Danny,” she said (she is the only person in the world who can get away with calling me “Danny,” so don’t you try), “You mean, 4 windows down at 65 miles per hour — you mean you don’t have air conditioning?” Her voice was rising a little at the end.

Dick walked in at this point, and when he was filled in, he laughed. But my sister doesn’t let these things get to her.

“Actually, in some ways I like it better without air conditioning,” she said. “You really feel like you’re driving, not speeding along in this hermetically sealed — thing.”

Dick rolled his eyes and walked out. There’s only so much brother-sister talk you can stand before it gets cloying. Then Jean said, “Do you have some good music?”

“Well,” I said, “The cassette player is kind of dying, so –”

That was too much for Jean. 465 air conditioning is one thing, but cassettes? I promised I would get a portable CD player, which we can plug into my antiquated car stereo.

“Cassettes,” she muttered, shaking her head.

Whereas I don’t care so much about cassettes, or CDs or DVDs or iPods. What I want to know is where I can get free wifi access. Jean’s laptop doesn’t even have a wifi card! — that’s where I start shaking my head.

Actually, I think what all this shows is that we both have the same father, an electrical engineer and quasi-audiophile, and someone who would talk to us about good writing and about journalism when we were kids. Do I even need to add that, like Dad and me, Jean has a wireless LAN in her house? — which I think is cool.

By such strange things do we sometimes define our relationships.

(By the way, Jean, “wifi” (proper acronym is “Wi-Fi) does stand for “wireless fidelity.” How do you like that?)