Twenty-Five Observations…

Twenty-Five Observations While Travelling Back to Salt Lake City from San Jose, After Three Weeks Away, in February of 2002
  1. I am too warm in my black turtleneck sweater, standing outside the airport, watching Jed's car pull away, waiting to be checked in at the gate.
  2. I ask the gate attendant for a fragile sticker -- perhaps this is a mistake, as he makes me then sign a waiver for my box (full of sewing machine and clothes) before tossing it onto the conveyor belt.
  3. My backpack is so light with my new computer and only two books.
  4. Starbucks chai is hot and sweet and milky and I must admit, just the way I like it.
  5. At the security checkpoint, I read while waiting, Jonathan Carroll's The Wooden Sea.
  6. When it is my turn, I put down book and chai, remove laptop from backpack, remove ID from wallet, remove tall black boots, and smoothly place all relevant items on the conveyor. The lady says, "You've done this before, haven't you?" We smile.
  7. For two hours, I play computer games, until I feel a little queasy and it's time to board.
  8. On the plane, I go back to my book. It's not worth pulling out the computer for such a short flight. This is what books are for.
  9. When we land, I stand in the aisle, waiting for the doors to open. A white-haired old lady catches my eye, then turns quickly away without smiling. Usually they smile. Perhaps it is the black sweater, black skirt, black tights, tall black boots. Terrorist chic? Or just more stylish than I normally attempt.
  10. I can't walk quickly to baggage claim; the terminal is thronged with departing tourists, departing athletes, and arriving athletes in wheelchairs. Several Russian athletes smile broadly at me. They must like my boots!
  11. It's less than 30 degrees out, but the sun is shining very brightly, and I am comfortable.
  12. At the taxi stand, the woman calling taxis says, "You have time to read?" When I tell her that I'm a grad student and seem to spend my life reading these days, she says, "I never used to like to read, but lately, I love it. But I've spent the last two weeks trying to find the time to finish one book."
  13. At my door, there is no mail in the mailbox.
  14. Upstairs, all the mail is spread out on the dining table, and my various apartment-sitters have left notes.
  15. My plants are mostly okay, and all seem still alive.
  16. My fish are all alive, though the tank is only two-thirds full.
  17. I have no food in this house.
  18. There is sunlight in my sunroom, and the cable modem is working.
  19. I am so glad that I cleaned before I left town. The sink is free of dishes.
  20. I leave town again on Thursday; there's no point in trying to grocery shop or cook. Let the sink stay spotless a few days longer.
  21. I will go next door to the Italian cafe, buy milk for tea and a sandwich for dinner.
  22. When I come back, I will finish my book.
  23. Tonight I'll watch Angel, and try to figure out what I've missed.
  24. My fingers are itching to open mail, to water my plants, to trim the wilted leaves away.
  25. It's good to be home, even if home is here.

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