On the Road Again

After a relatively calm four weeks, I was back out on the road by the 13th.

Truth be told, I had been tearing my hair out with the calm, even though I am still getting my bearings back being home.  I feel almost like a stranger in a strange land; a repatriated expat; a woman enduring a welcome homecoming, but someone who still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of waking up in her own bed every morning.

In other words, have a wallet full of receipts, postage stamps, and foreign currency.

When I was told I should head to Atlanta, I was so ready to get back out on the road that I found I was looking forward to domestic travel with an unprecedented enthusiasm.  A fervor that was probably something that I should be talking about in therapy.  Fear of intimacy, or commitment.  Or something.

Anyway, the 6:00 a.m. flight to Atlanta somehow seemed like…Christmas, and I left my house at 4:30 am for LaGuardia unable to control my beaming smile.

LGA was the usual; the same ordinary lines and bustle.  The flight was ordinary.  There was a crash and a bang, though, and suddenly someone was ill.  The stewardesses were throwing around oxygen tanks and yelling in the aisles.  They’re trained to be calm, but this was probably serious.

“Is someone dying?” the tiny man next to me asked.  The flight was continuing to Cancun after a stop in ATL, and his English was not good.

I shrugged.  I’d seen so much on planes.  Death and birth, and death and birth and life.  Oxygen masks from ceilings; fights and shouting and drunks and proposals.  I’m young, but I’ve seen an awful lot on planes.  I’ve been flying since…infancy…maybe.

Someone was dying; sick; maybe (s)he had already died.  I don’t know.  It went quiet after that.  After all the frenzy, we didn’t land in a hurry.

It seems weird to me, in retrospect, that my life has become one where a medical emergency on a flight down the Eastern Seaboard has somehow become mundane.  Just another ivedonethisbefore.  Maybe I’m callous.  Maybe I’m just a frequent flier.

I wonder, idly, sometimes, what I’ll do for excitement when I’m 60.

Post meetings and calls and day in Atlanta, I decided to take the MARTA train back to the airport.

I have this abiding love of public transport.  Er.  Public trains, maybe.  Commuter trains.  Buses scare the bejeezus out of me.  I once rode an LA city bus, and that nearly did me in…Los Angeles City buses are like meandering buggies to nowhere.  University students deep in the throes of their black-wearing, cigarette-smoking pseudo-French existentialism phases should have to ride Los Angeles city buses–they’ll be disabused of their romantic, Godless notions quickly, I promise.  (Do university students still get that way, or do they all get hung up on the Ayn Rand in these Glenn Beck times, I wonder?)

(For what it’s worth, I went through both phases–the objectivism and the existentialism.)

Then, when I was doing DC Public Schools special ed advocacy, I took a bus into Columbia Heights (this was back 8 or so years ago before Columbia Heights was…all gentrified…), alone, and nearly got killed.  That was the end of my desire to take buses anywhere.

I digress.

I took the MARTA train from Buckhead to the Airport.  Years of riding the subway have made me largely indifferent to anything that happens on a train.  Commuter trains look the same everywhere outside of New York, I’ve decided.  Bombardier–or whoever knocks off that same design–must make a killing.  They’re all the same; almost everywhere in the world, the same.

Men in pinstripes with trashbags full of their belongings, well-chewed cigars hanging out of their mouths; mothers and fathers and children huddled in corners; women with headrags and colorful hair; families and crazies; students and doctors.  Me, the lawyer, the affluent white girl.  A study in class and race and economics and history…all in one train car.

The doors burst open at the airport, and I was sucked back into the world of commuters on the South to North route.

The plane bumped and bounced into Washington, the next stop on my route.  Meetings, meetings, meetings the next day…where we were headed; where our plans would take us.

Then…home.  The lights of the city beneath me.  Up the Hudson on a USAirways plane and into LaGuardia, my home away from home.  Glory, glory.

Taxi over the Triboro and on to the Drive.  Dinner with a friend over the strains of Ray LaMontagne and then a long, hot bath in my single girl apartment.  Bath salts and oil by the light of my Jesus nightlight, pondering why I always need to leave before I get too settled.

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