hungry hearted

serving up a healthy portion of pop culture commentary, random infatuations, and introspective ramblings

the bumpy road home

I was so preoccupied and lost in thought that I nearly missed my flight home altogether. Completely aloof, I entered my gate and wandered into one of the stock bookstores to grab a magazine. I felt like somewhat of a smart-ass as I picked up The New Yorker and brought it to the cashier. I buried my face in the pages, browsing through articles as I found a seat to sit and space out in. Oddly, there was no one else around. Like a direct answer to an unarticulated question, my name was announced and I was called to board my flight or lose my seat. I laughed to myself and got on board. Typical.

In route to New York I read my magazine and was especially influenced by an article on light pollution by David Owen, "Can you see the stars?" It reminded me of this star projector machine my uncle gave me when I was young and made me anxious to rummage through my old belongings back at my parents house. I drifted in thought and compiled a quick list of books, pictures, records, etc. that I wanted to find back home. My excitement and anticipation peaked and my mind switched gears from thinking of all I would miss out on in Austin while traveling back east to the nearly tangible adventures I was about to embark on.

I realized I've trained myself to emotionally detach somewhat from my past in order to focus on and enjoy the present. There is so much to love and miss about the places you grow up and the people so inevitable entwined with those settings. I mean, there's a distinctly obvious reason each of us develops a geographical comfort zone. I'm no stranger to this evocation. As I landed at JFK, I was thoroughly ecstatic to be home.

I giggled to myself at the attitude shift from Austin International to JFK. The pace is ten fold, at least. The woman on the intercom sounded nasal and dramatic, strikingly like the voice of George Castanza's mother. Hilariously refreshing. The gift shop lacked the warm burnt orange glaze I had recently familiarized myself with in exchange for NYPD hats and mugs decorated with apples. Thank God.

Of course in the true spirit of New York, I soon found myself totally screwed. My connecting flight to Albany was canceled and I was completely stranded in this overcrowded zoo. I focused on my objective and limited options as I waited three hours for my baggage to be recovered.

The delirium took over as I found myself mingling with a mixed batch of stranded travelers and somehow got lucky. I met an army girl named Jessica who had come from Germany to get married the following night. She had to get to Albany to meet her fianc├ęs' parents that night and proceed with her wedding arrangements. We buddied up and made a pact to get to Albany any way necessary. We figured we'd take a taxi to grand central and a train the remainder of the way upstate, but were approached by another duo destined for Albany and joined forces to rent a shuttle.

It was cold outside as our ramshackle crew loaded into the airport shuttle. We drove on the outskirts of NYC into Jersey and back up into NY. I gazed upon the cityscape, passed Yankee stadium, the Toyota lot where I bought my Yaris, and counted exits on the thruway as we passed New Paltz and continued all the way up to Catskill. Each of these landmarks struck an emotional chord with me making my thoughts pretzel. Only my increasing hunger could overpower and distract my minds focus.

The shuttle left me at thruway exit 21 as requested. I stood outside Stewart's with my enormous backpack dwarfing my frame and a garment bag hanging from my arm, a spectacle no doubt. I definitely missed the dinner plans I had with Sarah & Jessie. Four hours behind schedule, it was well beyond my control. So here I was, a total goon freezing my ass off in the middle of Catskill hoping they would arrive in the next fifteen minutes before Stewart's closed.