Sanders, at Christmas, recalls his parents Dec 29, 2007
Christmas when Sanders was six his parents took him to New York. They admired the tree in Rockefeller Center; they gaped at the lights and the toy store windows; they ice-skated in Central Park. They saw the Rockettes, Joan Sanders’ dream since her own childhood. In half-embarrassed whispers she had shared memories of seeing the Rockettes on television, of wanting to be a Rockette, herself, when she grew up. Young Bunchanan didn’t see what was the big deal, but he understood that it was a big deal, and he, the dutiful son, listened politely, recognizing even at his tender age that his mother, all things being equal, would rather have had a daughter. “You probably don’t understand,” she said, laughing it off, and he shrugged and smiled to indicate that he sort of did, maybe, that at least he wished he did.
But the Rockettes scared him. He couldn’t have said why, but sitting in the darkened theater he began to cry. When it became clear that he couldn’t or wouldn’t stop, his father offered to take him outside, and Joan — Buchanan would never forget her face at that moment — Joan nodded in agreement, smiled at her son to tell him it was all right, but he saw the sadness in her eyes. He saw the disappointment of someone who, convinced that what she has is really too good to be true, is almost relieved to have it taken from her. And — for an instant — a flash of anger at her husband, as if he had planned his escape from the beginning, coaching the boy to cry and practicing his look of patient regret in the mirror, while shaving. Then she turned back to the show, and Paul Sanders led his sniveling son down the row of people who turned their knees to let them pass but arched their necks to keep their eyes on the action. They found the spectacle cheery and Christmas-y and not a bit frightening; little Buchanan Sanders sobbed all the harder in embarrassment. Read more
Sanders takes a walk Nov 12, 2007
From the hotel there was nowhere to walk. After a morning’s prostration before his cinema display Sanders craved movement, but he had few options. Conveniently located minutes from the airport, a short drive from three major universities and a professional hockey stadium, the Belmont RTP Resort and Conference Center was unreachable on foot, bounded by an interstate, a state-numbered divided highway, the golf course, and a private business campus. On two sides an escapee risked being flattened; the others were heavily guarded. The hotel’s brochure boasted a walking trail, but it was a narrow strip of macadam that looped around a small pond a few hundred yards from the lobby before returning to circumnavigate the parking lot. The pond itself Sanders found pleasant enough, but the same pond, the same geese, the same short path — Sanders and Amit, between clients, once measured it at precisely 583.6 meters — wore on him after four and a half years. A walk or two a day adds up: Three, four hundred walks a year, over a thousand since the brother of Amit’s ex-girlfriend became the Belmont’s manager and consented to rent them his extra conference space. A thousand identical walks. It might as well have been a habitrail. Read more
Sanders lunching by golfers Nov 5, 2007
At eleven forty-five, restless and irritable, Sanders broke early for lunch and headed outside to the narrow patch of concrete the hotel’s website designated the “rear patio.” Its umbrella-shaded wooden tables were bolted to the concrete, as were the four chairs that flanked each table at points of the compass: adequate for lunching with one or two or three friends, but more gregarious sorts were out of luck. Accessible only through an unmarked door halfway down a corridor of meeting rooms the patio was seldom used and forgotten even by the maintenance staff, who allowed pine straw to accumulate unswept for days at a time and unseasonable flowers to wither in their whisky-barrel pots. The tables by the pool were nicer anyway, and (poolside tables being, one supposed, a less tempting target for larceny) freely moveable to accommodate social groupings of all sizes. But the desolation of the rear patio was what attracted Sanders; it was, most days, the only place in the hotel he could think. Read more