Just before his grandmother died, she told him stories about her grandmother. Her grandmother had gone across America in a covered wagon, traveling from the Appalachian Mountains to Seattle. It’d been a long and bumpy journey. She didn’t remember how long it took. She didn’t like it there, so she took the train back. It was hot. Black smoke and cinders filled the car whenever they opened the windows for a breeze, so they kept the windows closed and dripped with sweat.
His father heard the story and and remembered his father telling him about driving a Chevy station wagon across the United States. They’d started in Indiana, where it was raining, and drove across the flat plains of corn to the towering Rocky Mountains and up them, and down into California. It took five days to reach San Francisco. They stayed in motels every night. There was a swimming pool at one. Gas was less than two dollars a gallon.
His father’s brother remembered flying from San Francisco to Washington, and how it took almost a day to get there. He remembered looking out the window and watching the ground roll past as the engines roared and the plane climbed into the sky. He remembered the clunk of the wheels going up into the aircraft’s belly, and the change in the engines’ whine, and the wisps of clouds slipping past the windows. They’d had to be at the airport a few hours early, and then they stood in line to check their bags, and stood in lines to go through security, and stood in line to get on the plane, and stood in line to get off and get their bags.
He’d asked each of them, what’d you do when you traveled like that? Well, they said, we sang, and ate, and talked, played games, read books, watched television, listened to music, slept, looked at the scenery, and met people.
He remembered all these things in the time it took him to teleport from his home to the teleport center and out the other end at the moon colony. His last thought before he glanced out at Earth and went into his meeting was, what he would tell his children in his old age, and how they would be doing what he was doing now?