Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Thoughts - The Travel Edition

Google Maps told me it would take 53 minutes from the kids' house to O'Hare. They weren't counting on the drizzle, I guess. Going uphill when the roads are slick seems to touch a slow down and take care button in certain drivers, which wouldn't bother me if they slowed down 5 or 10 miles per hour. Tooling along in the left lane at 30mph in a 55mph zone makes no sense to me.
And then there were the gawkers. A sedan rear-ended a sports car. The tow trucks and the police were on the scene. All the vehicles were on the shoulder, lights blinking. The officers were taking information as the mechanics were attaching hoists to undercarriages while the drivers were waving their arms and trying to stay dry. How do I know all of this? Because traffic slowed to a crawl, delaying progress for miles.

I zipped past as the road opened up in front of me, otherwise I'd have been able to tell you the make and model of the vehicles involved. I let the other cars dawdle and gape; I wanted to get to O'Hare.
I-pass is the Illinois Toll Road's E-Z pass system. If your vehicle is not equipped with such a device, as my rental was not, you exit and pay cash to the toll taker and then re-enter the highway. That way, there's no messing with the flow of the on-going traffic, which zips right through the extra-wide booths designed to calculate the toll and add it to your account. It's a perfectly lovely system, when there's a human inside the booth.  Unfortunately for me, my exit was un-staffed. It required $1.50 in coins, of which I had none.

Feeling naive and unprepared, I pouted and felt put-upon. But the lovely lady at Hertz told me how to pay it on-line without skipping a beat or judging me.

It seems I'm not the first to be flummoxed in this way. It was comforting to know that I was not alone.
The Hertz bus was huge and empty and we had to wait for more passengers before we could depart. The driver and I shared travel sagas and limping stories and the time went by quickly. Still, waiting for anything is not my preferred option; I found myself tapping my toes and drumming my fingernails.

You can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New Yorker out of the girl, it seems.
Puddles pooling at the bottom of the curb cuts seem to defeat the entire purpose of the ramp, don't you think? I was glad for my cowboy boots; my Chucks would have been sodden by the time I got inside.
Security lines still make me nutty, even when the attendant directed me to a much shorter wait at the far end of the concourse. Certainly, the line was not as long. Equally as certain is the fact that I had to trek an extra quarter of a mile to save not so very many minutes at all.

I know she was trying to help; I wish she had recognized that pulling a suitcase, a purse, a coat and myself requires attention to distance as well as time.
It's always a toss-up: do I sit down and dine or grab a bagel and go? Poppy seeds in my teeth versus hot scrambled eggs and toast with jelly is a dilemma I am forced to resolve each and every time I travel in the morning. I had plenty of time, but not much of an appetite today, so I opted for cream cheese and a personal dental examination at the gate this time.

Now, two hours later, my tummy is wishing that I'd chosen a real meal.
I take advantage of my unstable gait and ask for pre-boarding these days. I have no interest in being bumped – intentionally or not – by the guy behind me on the jetway. No, I didn't need a wheelchair. I just needed more time and no distractions.

Wheeling my rolling suitcase down the jetway, negotiating over metal connecting panels every few yards, was challenge enough. I was delighted to have the path all to myself as I tried to avoid thinking about the reason I was so slow. I'm rarely angry about it anymore; traveling seems to open the box in which I have those thoughts securely stowed.
Securely stowed.... those are the words the flight attendant used to describe how we should place our bags in the overhead bins. Why would anyone stow it insecurely, I wonder?
There are half a dozen empty seats on the flight, and one of them is next to me. Having the use of both armrests makes a big difference as seat widths shrink and leg room vanishes. Watching the basketball-player-sized passenger behind me fold himself into a middle seat touched my heart..... but not enough to offer to trade places with him.

Am I selfish? Perhaps. I'm also old and broken... or so I tell myself to assuage my guilt.
The flight attendant and I had a lovely conversation about gun control and the lack of political will on the subject. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been after me to join their ranks; the craziness the issue raises keeps me publicly silent on the subject. I did, however, give him the name of my contact there. His ire was deep enough for the both of us.
I'm glad I'm out of touch and unable to listen to the talking heads dissecting last night's debate. The radio on the drive to the airport made me nutty enough, reminding me that foreign policy was not the issue with which most undecided voters were concerned. There's a comfort in the cocoon up here above the clouds. I wish I could take it with me when I deplane.
I'm sitting in the rear of the plane, across from the galley; soda was offered before the cart began its journey to the front of the aircraft. There's an advantage to sitting beside the trash cans, it seems.
I'm being ferried further and further from my girl and her boy and her dog and her life and I don't like it at all... not one little bit. True, TBG and G'ma await me in Tucson, but a big piece of my heart is still in the Midwest. Phone calls and emails and texts and tweets are all fine and wonderful but there's nothing like her arms around me, my nose in her hair, her murmuring “I love you, Mama” in my ear.

I don't think I'll be able to stay away for very long. No, I do not.  


  1. Isn't it the best when your kids tell you they love you without prompting from you? My little man leaned over last night and said, "I wub you mommy". And I know it's wrong of me to like it, but all three of them fight to lie next to me in bed. It's sometimes a big battle.

    Can tell you are missing Little Cuter something fierce. :( I hope when my kids are grown-up that I have the great relationship you have with yours.

    Welcome back home.

    Megan xxx

  2. I love reading your travel stories! Especially when they bring you
    back to your old stomping grounds. Sorry I've been away for so long,
    life was happening. All in a good way :)


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