dimanche, septembre 11, 2005

On Our Way

Airline travel causes my Dear Wife great anxiety. Always eager for a trip, but never happy to hear the announcement that our group is now boarding, she will sit silently as the plane begins to back away from the gate, craning her neck to look about for the source of every new sound. Once in the air any rustling of the fuselage (esp. those sharp hydraulic throbs and jabs) causes her to leap. If not totally discombobulated, she certainly has a hard time remaining combobulated. When the turbulence becomes stronger, she will resignedly fold her upper body forward and literally rest her head between her knees, all without complaint. It is actually very touching. I have always wished I could help her. And now I have a found a way.

Move to Europe.

We've been so long preparing for this trip, on every front, logistically, financially, and emotionally; and then, unable to rent our house, we decided to put it on the market two weeks before leaving. I would say all this craziness kept us so occupied and preoccupied that after weeks of racing just to finish as many tasks as possible, we were glad to get on the plane--but we weren't even glad. We were just out of body.

Trying to figure out what we should bring for a year living overseas left us boggled and baffled. I surrendered to the overwhelming sensation and let my hand be guided by a sort of instinctual attraction. A suit? Yes, I like suits. I think I'll take three. Heavy wool sweaters? Um hmm.

"If we need (BLANK), we can just buy it," Dear Wife and I would shout to each from different rooms, packing the morning of our flight.

Now that we're here, a soft fear has risen in my chest that inevitable calamities begotten by our inevitable oversights shall soon be visiting us. Did I cancel that service? Did I properly enroll for online bill pay with all of my outstanding accounts? We even changed banks three weeks before departure. Total chaos.

We left behind the printer/scanner. We brought software. We left music CD's (I'd barely copied any to my hard drive before leaving--just didn't have time to get much beyond "The Mellomen" and "The Firehouse Five plus Two"). We left DVD's ("I regret this most", Euro Chino and Dear Wife, in unison, Oct. 29, 2005). And our largest suitcase wound up dominated by anatomy books and drawing gear.

In the short drive to the airport, Dear Wife's father (aka, Respected and Feared Father-in-Law), had been given packages to mail, pages of instructions for front door reassembly (lavishly illustrated by you-know-who), garage door openers, a begging request to go get my fabulous fancy ladder from my old studio (I left it behind!), and still more keys. His head full of all these missions and admonishments, he stopped at the terminal curb and we said our goodbyes (no tears, it's a positive thing afterall), and then we clambered (yes, clambered) out of the minvan, faced our obscene amount of luggage that still felt like half of what we needed, and waved "Au revoir, et à bientôt!"

And after all that, Dear Wife didn't really seem to care what happened to the plane.

Striking Northwest mechanics were picketing the terminal entrance, one with a memorable sign "Hope You're Feeling Lucky." Dear Wife shrugged apathetically. I wanted to explain to them, to say we bought the tickets months ago, and we hope there is a quick resolution they find satisfactory. I didn't. The ticket counter representative said she couldn't talk about the strike with an expression that could have been mocking our concern or signalling her sympathy with the mechanics, I couldn't tell. We were unnervingly delayed on our first flight by "maintanence issues" for an hour and a half. Dear Wife was unfazed. Still perfectly combobulated. Our late arrival in Detroit made for a tight connection, but when we checked the gate, people seemed to be milling around, waiting to board, so I thought picking up some quick Mc Donald's to bring along would be OK. But the counter workers at "McDo" (as the french call it) weren't feelin' it, and gave me a good blast of Detroit vibe while failing to fill my simple order in less than (seriously) 15 minutes--with all the items I'd requested just lying about in their little slots, waiting to come with me to France! I tried kindness, (smilin big, "Thanks!")--I tried authoratative calm ("That McNugget right there? I believe that's mine...."), I contemplated imitating Peet's urban cred, ("Hey yo'--them's my Nuggets, man"). Nothing. I kept looking back at the gate, watching everyone board, and soon everyone was gone, with just Dear Wife left alone, looking uncomfortable. I plead one last time to be handed the entirety of my order, grabbed what I could when refused, and ran to our gate.

And then stood in the jetway for the next 20 minutes along with 50 other people waiting to board the plane, my food getting cold.

One other food note: I try to order the Kosher meal whenever we fly, which has offered two benefits: I'm the first to be served, and it is usually damn good. The fact that it might put me in the front line of any hijacking situation by Jihadists is just a bonus ( TERRORIST: "Give me the list of everyone who ordered the kosher meal! Line them up here!--next, all the people that ordered the ham sandwich!!"). But aparently anti-semitism is becoming pervasive, because these meals sucked. Maybe it is a slyly anti-terrorist ploy, since those boys keep as kosher as any Orthodox Jew. I recall a frightening cabbie in Boston, circa '99 (the Sargent Retrospective at MFA) detailing how he and his "room mates" insisted on ordering their pizzas uncut, "So that we know it is untouched by the blade of the pizza cutter, which is defiled because it has touched pork."

"But you don't have any pork on your pizza," I said.

"But it has sliced other pizzas WITH PORK," he says with a menacing look in the rearview mirror.

We had a very nice flight attendant on the overseas leg who was from Germany and said I was cute. I fell asleep for a while until jostled awake by some turbulence. I looked over and Dear Wife had silently folded over and placed her head between her knees.