Saturday, August 25, 2012

Night and Day

So, there I was – at the Philadelphia airport with a first class ticket on a flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The next morning.

You didn’t expect me to spend the night at the airport did you? 
Brother to the rescue.

Now, don’t get to thinking that he’s a prince among men and all that stuff.  In fact, through my whole travel ordeal, he was sending me texts and calling me saying such supportive things like – “You’ve been to London, you should be able to handle this.”  “You’re a world traveler!”  “Are you hangry?  I bet you’re hangry!”  “I’m trying to be supportive…like a jock strap!”  “Still hangry?” 
Granted, he did play a crucial part in translating for my parents who don’t do very well in the communication department in times of crisis. 

I think my brother realized that I was at the end of the rope when I was trying to make sense of the SEPTA train timetable and was crying again realized I had justmissed a train and would have to wait another god knows how long for the next one.  So, he said the magic word:  “I’ll come pick you up and we’ll go get dinner.”  Dinner being the magic word, of course.
My tears dissipated, everything became right in the world again, and I remembered that heroes do walk among us. 

And that’s the story of how I flew to Philadelphia to have dinner with my brother. 

When we were kids my mom used to tell people that my brother and I were as different as night and day. 
He was artistic. I was not. 

I was a reader.  He was not.
He was athletic.  I was not.

I was a good student.  He was not.

He was intellectually gifted.  I was not. 

I was a morning person.  He most definitely was not. 
Things haven’t really changed in 30 odd years.    

We’re still pretty different. 
I believe strongly in punctuality.  My brother lives life according to his own clock which seems to be in a time zone that no one has quite discovered except for him. 

My brother’s house is decorated with a discerning eye towards detail.  The fact that the screws in my light switch plates aren’t aligned the same way makes him bonkers. 
I can’t smell an ashtray on fire right next to me (yes, it really happened).  My brother can walk into a room and get sick from the smell of cigarette smoke.   

My brother whips up amazing meals for family and friends.  I offer family and friends the bounty of my take-out menu drawer. 
As we ate dinner that night and he told me a story about work, I realized that, in some respects, we’re not so different after all. 

My brother is an HVAC guy…he installs heaters and boilers and big stuff like that and he’s very serious and very meticulous about it.  Sometimes, I get the sense that his tendency towards perfectionism might drive his coworkers crazy.  I wondered aloud if he was being a bit tough on them.  He got very agitated and said things had to be done a certain way – his way – so that it was done right.  I thought he was on a very high horse, indeed.
And then I chuckled because really, when it comes to work, I’m the same way.  My brother flips out about ductwork.  I flip out about improper records arrangement, crooked labels, and people not spell-checking their work.  Sometimes, I ride a pretty high horse myself.     

Yeah, we’re still as different as night and day. 
But every night has some light and every day has its darkness. 


(This morning person is eternally grateful that her not-a-morning-person brother got up at 4:30 to take her to the airport the next morning!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Class

It got dicey, folks.  I could’ve ended up in Chicago.  Or Detroit. 

But you remember where I was stranded, right?  Philadelphia. 
You know – where I’m from in a close enough kinda way.  Close enough to where my parents and brother still live in towns with names that nobody really knows so we just say we’re from Philadelphia.

Yep.  I was "stranded" all right.
So, I actually had somewhere to spend the night if I needed to.  Didn’t stop the tears though.  I’ve been told that I can be a little over the top sometimes. 

Did I mention that I was going to Minnesota for a wedding reception on a riverboat?

The wedding was on Saturday at 1:30 PM Central Standard Time.  As of 8:08 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday night, there were no departing flights to Minneapolis that would get me there on time.
Until my mom got involved. 

By the time my mom got off the phone with whomever she was talking to I was booked on an early morning flight from Philadelphia to DC to Minneapolis.  I was scheduled to land in Minneapolis at 12:05 PM Central Standard Time.  Plenty of time to make it to the wedding on time.   
Oh, and I was in first class. 

That’s what happens when my mom gets involved.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Travel Baggage

Two Fridays ago, I set off on an epic travel adventure.  I mean, it wasn’t around the world in 80 days epic.  Or even sail the ocean blue in 1492 epic. 

I was just trying to get to Minnesota. 

When I was in 5th grade, on the way home from school one day, the school bus driver forgot to stop at my stop.  I was terrified.  And I did what I always do when I’m scared.  I panicked.  And I started to cry.  Those tears were embarrassing because 1) I was a big 5th Grader and 2) I was sobbing in front of my elementary school crush Greg Tarlo whom I was 97% sure was going to be my future husband one day. 

But as the bus rumbled past my stop, thoughts of my future marital bliss weren’t on my mind.  I was more concerned about where I was going to end up.  Even more concerning than that though was how I was going to communicate with my mom to tell her where I was once I ended up where I ended up.

This all happened before the age of the cell phone.  Before the car phone, even.  It was a time when people saved their quarters to pay Ma Bell for the privilege of using one of her phones.  Which worked great.  Unless you couldn’t hear on them.  Like me. 
The fear of being stuck somewhere without any way to communicate with my mother ship runs deep.  And usually results in lots of tears. 

Two Fridays ago, at 3 in the afternoon, I set off on a trip that would end in Minneapolis at 8:00 Central Standard Time. 
By 3:45 PM, I ran into my first travel obstacle, a delayed flight from Baltimore to Philadelphia.  But I wasn’t worried…my flight from Philadelphia to Minneapolis was delayed too.  Travel Karma was on my side.

By 6:43 PM, Travel Karma had bitten me in the ass. 
By 7:05 PM, I was in full-scale-the-bus-driver-didn’t-stop-at-my-stop-and-what-if-I-never-see-my-family-again panic mode.

And then I started to cry.
I had no idea where I was going to end up. 

Two Fridays ago, it wasn’t Minnesota. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

Looking up at the Chrysler Building
A couple of years ago, a friend from work came back laden with gifts after a visit to New York City.  I received a mug emblazoned with the bold proclamation “I [heart] NY” to add to my already sizeable – and much loved – mug collection.  But whenever I used that particular mug, I didn’t feel legit.  Certainly not as legit as I felt when I sipped from my #1 Sister mug.  ‘Cause, while it’s a well-established fact that I am indeed a #1 Sister, I never exactly [hearted] NY.   

I’m not exactly a fan of “the city”.  And by “the city,” I don’t mean a specific city; I mean cities that are really big and noisy and filled with really tall buildings.  I prefer my cities to be slightly smaller.  Or suburban.    
Last week, I spent three and a half days in New York City.  This was really my first time spending a significant amount of time in the heart of the Big Apple.  To be honest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it.  It’s just so big and noisy and crowded and there are all those really tall buildings.  I was filled with anxious trepidation.  And an overwhelming fear of getting swept away and lost.  Luckily, I was going with two friends, one of whom really, really [hearts] New York City.  And who knows how to cross the street like a true city girl. 
On my trip, I learned that New York City is many things.
It is extremes and in betweens.
It is hustle and bustle and moments of serene solitude. 
It is skyscrapers and shrines.
It is food carts and ice cream trucks and the Russian Tea Room.
It is bright lights and dark alleys. 
It is Upper and Lower.  East Side and West Side.  Downtown.  Midtown.  Uptown.
It is the city that never sleeps.  Except for that guy on the church steps. 
It is past, and present, and future.  All in one city block. 
It is the citiest of cities.
And I survived it.  With a little help from my friends. 
I [heart] NY might still be too strong of a sentiment for me; however, I can honestly now say that I [fondly appreciate] NY.
I wonder if that’ll fit on a mug.