The Turn Around

Right to left, east coast to west, then turn around and come back again…

I’m finally back on the east coast in my beloved New York City. I was supposed to spend two weeks in California, but plans changed and I wound up staying a third week. After two weeks on the west coast I started to feel homesick, and by the end of three weeks I nearly danced onto the plane to get home.

When we landed at Newark airport, and I saw the city in the window, my heart leapt up to meet it.

One thing that’s surprised me is how short term vs. long term memory works as it pertains to my travel schedule. What I mean is… after being away from home for three weeks, it feels much longer. I start to lose my day to day familiarity with the places I haunt regularly when I’m not there.

I know this because when I return home and go to my regular diner, for instance, they seem surprised to see me. “Hi!” they say, “I haven’t seen you in a while!”

Yes, they sense it too. I’ve been gone just long enough to seem really gone, and when I come back, it is surprising and somehow feels new. My first diner meal when I got home? Greek salad with toasted pita. East coast diners know how to do that right.

And on the west coast, I’m developing a set of go-to places too (a survival tactic). I found a diner, well… let’s call it a diner, but it’s a California diner which is not really a diner but it’s as close to a diner as I’ve found out there. It’s got chrome on the outside; inside it has a counter with swivel stools; a dessert case with eclairs the size of your head; and strange low-slung booths covered in vinyl; plastic plants: all the accoutrements of what is known as “diner.” The menu is decidedly west coast though. Most omelettes come with salsa and sour cream, which is just wierd; and the waitresses don’t call you hon. (I hate that!)

Yeah, Silicon Valley is a massive, sprawling suburb. The towns are intersected by large 10 lane freeways and 6-8 lane expressways and busy four lane “local roads.” The traffic there is oppressive. It is not unusual to be completely stopped on a 10 lane freeway, and when traffic begins moving, you’re doing 10 miles an hour for miles and miles. A trip that should take 10 minutes takes 30 during the morning rush hour. (The price of one gallon of regular gas was $4.35 when I left, incidentally.)

Ahh, it’s good to be home. I can jump on the PATH train for 2 bucks and be in New York City within minutes. I can stroll around my Manhattan and enjoy the early signs of Spring arriving (I’m choosing to ignore the weather prediction for light snow showers tomorrow…)

The thing is, I’ve spent this weekend doing a lot of laundry, paying bills and doing my best to catch up on all the tasks, large and small, that need doing but can’t get done if I’m not home.

For example, the handle broke on my heavily abused suitcase when I yanked it off the carousel at Newark baggage claim. So part of my weekend was spent in the search and acquisition of a replacement.

As I brought the luggage to the checkout, I casually mentioned to the cashier that I had just come back from California and the handle broke, so I needed a new bag, yadda yadda yadda.

She said, You were traveling in California? That sounds so glamorous.

That was the word she used. Glamorous. And I said, well, traveling for work isn’t glamorous, trust me.

But it sounds that way to me, she said.

I asked her, Do you have family here?

She tilted her head quizzically. Yes, she said.

Okay, imagine leaving your family for three weeks and living out of a hotel while going to work everyday, I said.

Her brows creased a little, Oh, she said, I guess I see what you mean. That must be kind of hard.

Yeah. That’s what I mean.

And soon I’ll be hitting the road again. And by soon, I mean tomorrow. I’d better enjoy the minutes and hours I have left while I can…

In the meantime, I’ve got to throw the laundry in the dryer………….


6 Responses

  1. Welcome back, CD, and have a good trip. Glad you got a taste of NYC before departing again. Would love a photo of those head-sized eclairs 🙂

  2. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Love it when your community notices you haven’t been around for a while, then you know you really are home. Loved this post!

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