The Seattle Chronicles: Epilogue
"Parting is such sweet sorrow..."
...but it's never stopped me before.
I was up at 4:30 on Friday morning. I said goodbye to Jack -- or "Doc," as I had taken to calling him -- and with that, Shirley drove me to the airport. I remember crying the night before, at the thought of leaving loved ones and new friends behind. But there is no escape from reality. Besides, I gotta pay
for the next trip.
I performed the unusual step of checking at least one bag, comprised of items I had acquired during the trip. It was mostly clothing (a depressed economy making for great bargains at thrift stores), and so was my largest bag for the journey home.
The security measures at Sea-Tac (Seattle-Tacoma Airport) were a little more strict than at BWI. After setting off the alarm, I was sent to a chair and inspected more closely. Since the metal in my shoes set off an alarm as well, I was instructed to remove them (a measure never taken at BWI), while they were run through a scanner separately. They discovered at least one culprit among my belongings, a harmonica in my parka that I had forgotten to put in a tray.
For all their vigilance, they missed the other culprit, a little Swiss Army knife attached to my keychain, which I didn't discover myself until I was over Indiana. (Gee, do you think I should tell anybody? Nahhhhh!)
The sun had arisen over the eastern portion of Washington state by eight in the morning Pacific time. I adjusted my watch for landing in Chicago -- ten o'clock Central time. The hours were quickly flying by as we made our way "from sea to shining sea." I thought of my son Paul, and of how we were planning to return to Seattle together late this coming summer. (Note to Paul: the buses all over Seattle carried ads for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
. Sounds like kindred spirits to me, eh?)
We encountered some turbulence, no doubt caused by the wind blowing off the Continental Divide or thereabouts. But there was cloud cover, and little to see outside the window...
The night before, my cousin Theresa brought her three-year-old son Paul over for one last visit with me. He wanted to pretend he was a puppy dog and I was the owner, and told me to play fetch with him. We gave each other big bear hugs as we parted. I was going to miss the little critter. He reminded me so much of my own Paul as a little boy. One last look at the pictures on the wall before drifting off to sleep. My family was far flung across three thousand miles, yet so close to my heart, and with an open door to their own. I remembered what Gretchen had told us in her "reflection" at Mass the previous Sunday: "Family are those who, when you knock at the door, they have to let you in." Even so, Shirley said I pretty much took care of myself during the nearly two-week stay...
The sky was clearing, as we flew over northern Wyoming. Before this trip, the farthest west I had ever been was Denver. There was so much of this country yet to see. The turbulence had cleared by the time we reached South Dakota. I would have loved to see Mount Rushmore.
I witnessed the simple grandeur of the prairie lands below, as I read from my morning office of that day, with the words of Psalm 23(24):
"The Lord's is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm..."
It was a nearly two-hour wait for my connecting flight to BWI. If this had been O'Hara, I would probably be hoofing it across two or three terminals. Fortunately, this was Midway (see Chronicles: Day One
I struck up a conversation with Karen, who wore a lapel pin in the image of a paintbrush, and I learned of her work with Habitat for Humanity
. She was headed from this, her town of origin, to her adopted home of Baltimore (where I wish I could one day be headed). We sat together on the final leg of my journey. After listening to the dry wit of the flight attendant ("If you have brought any small children aboard for this flight... what were you thinking?"), we were off.
But not before listening to Southwest's version of Sophie's Choice
: "In the event of a drop in cabin pressure -- do not
grab the person next to you in a state of panic. Instead... If you have more than one child with you, you must quickly decide which of them will make the greater contribution to humanity when they grow up, and then..."
Coming into Baltimore, the clouds gave way to rain and overcsst skies, and the expected turbulence ("Alright, kids, sit down, you're shaking the plane."). Upon departing, I gave Karen a card with the Bon Temps Relay
website. I'm always scoping for new talent. Finally, we were given the appropriate sendoff by Southwest Airline's finest:
"We love you, you love us.
We're much faster than the bus.
We hope you enjoyed our hospitality,
But if you were married to one of us,
You'd ride for free."
As we disembarked from the plane, I had to say to her what was in my heart: "Excuse me, ma'am, I think I'm in love -- but it's the third time this week, so don't worry about it."
Cheap flights, and
an attitude! I'm gonna love flying Southwest again. You can too.
For nearly two weeks, the server at Johns Hopkins was apparently down, because the Bon Temps Relay
site was unavailable, as was Gary Hayman's Cajun/Zydeco
website. So I called my dance instruction partner, the lovely and talented Bonita, and asked her what the hell was going on. "We're having dinner right now, David. Why do you wanna know this now?" "Because I might wanna stay up here to catch some action, like I haven't had enough
, you know?" Well, I only learned what was going down at the Cat's Eye
when I got home.
And so, the adventure ends quietly, in my little place in Arlington where I hang my (black) hat. "Be it ever so humble..."