The Seattle Chronicles: Day One
Walk on boy,
Walk on down the road.
There ain't nobody in the whole wide world
Gonna help you carry your load.
Walk on boy...
(from a traditional folk song, as sung by Doc Watson)
They say that when God closes a door, he opens a window. At 10:30 this morning, I closed the door of my home, suitcase and guitar in hand, and didn't look back.
I walked the usual half-mile to the Orange Line of Metrorail, as I would on any work day. Except this time I headed across town to the eastern terminus at New Carrollton. From there I took the MARC train (Penn Line) to BWI Airport just south of Baltimore. Since I hope to move to Charm City in a couple of years, this was a good logistical exercise for trying out a future commuter route.
The big question for me was, what would airport security be like after "9/11"? Well, at least at BWI, it's just a little more thorough, with Federal
security this time, from the (newly created?) Transportation Security Agency. My ticket didn't have a "checkered" pattern on it, so I didn't get my bags opened for the full treatment like that one guy did. Whew!
While we waited to board, I was doing a medley of Christmas selections on my guitar with the volume turned down low. Southwest is a pretty good airline, if you can live with an "open seating" policy. Why does everybody leave the middle seat open when they get on anyway? I just have to be in their face while I store my luggage.
As usual, I always pray the Rosary when the plane takes off. Call me sentimental.
I had to connect to another flight in Chicago. One nice thing about Midway Airport; it's not O'Hara. The second leg of the trip was about twice as long, and twice as much fun. I got to sit next to a two-year old named Gavin. He and baby Melissa and mother Connie were from Indianapolis. Gavin was fascinated by the lights of Chicago as we took off. He was less impressed with my rendition of "My Kind of Town." Then we played games like Mr Potato Head (including when I said, "Hey kid, wanna see a real
potato head?" and took off my hat), and back-and-forth games like Yes-No-Yes-No. You had to be there...
My thoughts went back to the night before. I found I had enough time after packing, that I called my son Paul up, and we high-tailed it to a barn dance outside of Newark, DE
. It was quite crowded, with Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners providing the music. Paul found the whole scene (as he always does) rather amusing, and my female friends couldn't get over how "adorable" he was. He does
take after his father's side, of course. One woman wanted to take him home. We couldn't agree on a price. Most important, I got to give my friend from Philadelphia her present, in return for her hospitality while I was there a couple of times -- two pairs of little sleigh bell earrings, to match the ones she wears on her shoes to ring in the holiday. Well, she loved
them, put them on immediately and shared her tune with all who would hear, including a girlfriend who wanted to borrow the other pair. Sometimes I get it right.
Paul wouldn't dance, for all the begging women would do with the guy. I learned later that Louise "The Queen of Relay" got Paul on the floor. Good thing he knows a command performance when it happens. Her Majesty reports that he shows great promise. He dragged me away to the car at one point, to give me my gift. He got me a little knick-knack for Christmas, a model of the Last Supper. I will put it in my kitchen. I got him a manual with CD-ROM on video game development.
On the long ride home, we talked of many things. It was a great chance to spend time with him, and we agreed to try it again when the opportunity arose. When he was little, I used to sing and play guitar for him before he went to sleep at night. One of the songs I used to do was "Walk On Boy" (see lyrics above). It seems almost prophetic in the current day. His being seven months in recovery, I discovered just how proud I was of him. For all his trials as a child of "a broken home," my son is becoming my hero...
The scene outside the window of the plane was dark, as we passed over the Dakotas. I looked down upon the lights, little clusters of them amidst the dimly lit square patterns. I wondered what it was like, living on the endless prairie, under the big sky.
Mother Connie had a white wine; I had a cola. We shared a toast for a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Then it was story time, and we read from Doctor Seuss. Gavin was getting a little fussy, as little boys are likely to do when they don't get their nap. They passed out boxes of snacks. I gave her my extras: "Ma'am, I think you're going to need them before I will." She readily agreed.
As we passed over Montana, I looked forward to seeing the Big Sky Country in the light of day on the trip home. The pilot told us we would arrive at 8:00 pm Pacific, 25 minutes ahead of schedule. Early arrival; now that's a first!
By the time we reached the state of Washington (why they named this state after the Nation's capital I'll never understand), mother and children were fast asleep. Soon we began our descent. By 7:30, we passed over the lights of the city. With the Space Needle in the distance, the flight attendant began singing "Silent Night" over the speaker. I couldn't resist adding harmony. At the end, everybody clapped, presumedly for her
. The mood was always there on the plane, and for a moment, all my cynicism about the holiday season was forgotten.
I was playing my guitar in the lounge area of the terminal, near the drive-by entrance, when the '82 Nissan pulled up, and a familiar face smiled and waved. Aunt Shirley looked great, even with grey hair. Some gals just know how to pull it off. We drove through town, pointed at the usual landmarks, and got off at the exit for Montlake. Around the corner, and up the block, was the gingerbread house that would be my home for the next ten days.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I suddenly have the urge for tomato soup. That, and I thought I'd visit with my aunt, being as we're related and I haven't seen her in a dog's age. Stay tuned...