Sunday, July 13, 2014

R&R

I am writing this on a four hour lay-over in London. I love London already, though I will only see the airport. I am sitting with an ice Americano from Starbucks, my first Starbucks coffee in eight months, looking out over the tarmac, at giant jumbo jets taxing down the runway, taking off and landing, and can’t help thinking how much Pete and Sam would love to see this, then remembering that they have already seen this when they flew through London five weeks ago.

I have never had a four hour lay-over before and don’t really know what to do with myself. I am used to rushing from one connection to the next. As I ponder my next move, I remind myself that I have a five hour lay-over awaiting me at LAX, so save some for later. I might have a late-lunch/early-dinner, grab a salad. I know that sounds lame, but you have to understand the lack of lettuce in India causes one to just crave something crisp and fresh. Though I just walked past an advertisement for juicy hamburger that looked pretty good, too.

I don’t even know what time it is. Airports are timeless, places outside the normal time continuum, places where time stops, and morning, afternoon and night all become one. Airports are one of the only places it is okay to drink something other than a bloody mary at eight in the morning, so I think about having a beer when realization washes over me….I’m on vacation!

The flight from Chennai was uneventful, except I was a minor celebrity on the airplane. My job in India is to facilitate travel to the United States, and half of the passengers recognized me from recent visits to my office.

In my half hour in Heathrow I already recognize it as the intersection of the world. I don’t think I’ve heard so many languages spoken in one place or seen so many people from different spots around the globe. It is fascinating and amazing and makes me love my life even more, that I get to see some of them.

A friend confided in me recently that he “doesn’t believe in borders”. I found this an interesting sentiment given our line of work, but not one I can’t appreciate. Especially as many borders are meaningless lines on a map and do nothing to demarcate one place from another and especially as so much time, money and effort is used in patrolling and protecting them, one can’t help but wonder what a world without borders would be like. Certainly, there would be an initial period of chaos were the world to decide to capriciously and spontaneously remove all borders, but after an initial settling out period, I wonder if natural forces wouldn’t take hold.

I don’t know what the free movement of people would bring. Most of the people I know growing up haven’t strayed from their hometown. I imagine most would want to stay in a place that was familiar, where the food, the language, the customs and norms were comfortable. I some level I know this is fantasy and a na├»ve ideal. Of course, as natural resources become scare or climate change affects the world in new and unpredictable ways, the free movement of people may bring conflict, but war already has the ability to destabilize entire regions despite borders. For now, borders are good job security, if nothing else.

I have already traveled nearly ten hours and have just under 24 to go. It already seems like a lifetime ago when Sundar was maniacally ringing the doorbell while I was in the shower, panicked I’m sure that I would miss my plane. I didn’t have the energy at three in the morning to argue with him, so I let him take me to the airport at an ungodly early hour to only sit around for another hour waiting for my flight to board. I was so tired, I didn’t realize I hadn’t given him overtime for the ride to the airport until a few hours into the flight. Oh well…he knows where I live.

The first flight went quickly and I hope the next one does, too. I am beyond excited to see the kids but also nervous to parent again. Will they listen to me? Will they be the crazy hellions Elise has been describing to me over Skype? I don’t want to have to yell at them. I just want to play with them and read to them, make them breakfast and play in the pool. I am cautiously optimistic that if I do those things with them that the listening will fall into place. We’ll see.

I am also nauseous with excitement to see Elise. I can’t wait for her touch. I know that sounds weird, but when she does it is like sticking your finger in a light socket. I am all of a sudden alive again.

Less than 24 hours. 


Friday, July 11, 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy 5th of July!

As the rest of 'Merica is celebrating the birth of our nation, it is July 5th in India. No watermelon. No fireworks. No BBQ. I am currently longing to be in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and fortunately for me I have only to wait one more week until I board a plane to London then Los Angeles (don't ask) then West Palm Beach to be reunited with my family.

As far as July 5ths go it has been a pretty good one. The end of July 3rd brought a wave of relief. I volunteered to be the lead coordinator for my office's July 4th reception held on Thursday evening. No one volunteered. So far, all of my responsibilities at work have come in the absence of anyone else wanting to do them. Maybe this is a bad precedence to set: "Hey, we need someone to meet with an Afghani warlord then take him on a cage dive with great white sharks and hike an active volcano....."

After months of logistical preparation, the event was a success. The band--an Indian blues band--was awesome and loud. The food, including Maryland crab cakes, was delicious. The decor, which took every second from six in the morning until thirty seconds before go time, was stunning (if I do say so myself). I received compliments from my bosses. Of course, I couldn't have done it without the help and support of my committee. But I accomplished the biggest task at my job since I lead the Environment and Science section in Brasilia and I'd be lying if it didn't feel good.

As the official program was winding down, really the last piece of the evening to truly fret over (in the middle of which someone told me that the Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry's armed guard force was asking if they could have dinner, to which I responded, "Shit, I don't know. Ask the Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry. He's sitting right there."), I thought to myself, "I can do this job. I hope I get tenured." The last job I was really good at was lifeguarding in high school; no one drowned on my watches.

Next up? Vacation. R&R in the parlance of my office. I can't enjoy vacation unless I know it is earned, deserved. I remember when we visited Elise's parents in Spokane with Sam as the real estate business was crumbling around me and it was so hard to enjoy it, because I hadn't closed a deal in a year and a half and I was transferring money from one account to another to stay solvent. Not the case now.

One week until I get to see Peter, Sam and Clementine. One week until I hold Elise in my arms again. One week until Mexican food, nachos, juicy burgers and Fat Tire. One week until Starbucks (though I entered a contest to be invited to the Grand Opening of the 1st Starbucks in Chennai July 8. Keep your fingers crossed!!), One week until R&R. Earned and deserved.

One week. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014