The Accidental Tourist

I took an Uber to the airport yesterday, just to make things easier; my daughter lives 5-6 minutes away (minutes, not miles) and it’s a tiny airport in comparison to the monster of SeaTac.

I arrived 90 minutes before my flight, and I was at the gate about five minutes later. It’s really not a very big airport.

So, if we adjust for time zones, I arrived at the airport around 12:15pm and walked through the front door of my house at 11:30pm, just another day at the airports. Considering that I know people who do this all the time, my son-in-law and his fellow musicians being a good example, it feels quaint and kind of rude to comment on waiting and waiting and waiting.

I flew to Phoenix, where my layover was scheduled to be short and sweet, about an hour from wheels down to wheels up. It made me a little nervous, just because I’m used to nonstop flights and not worrying about making connections. I didn’t need to be nervous.

I knew by mid-morning that my flight home was delayed two hours, and that got pushed back even a bit. I was in Phoenix for 3-1/2 hours, not long enough to be interested in going through TSA screening again, even if there was something to do or someone to see. But a long time for me to just twiddle my thumbs and recharge my phone.

For me. I get on a plane 2-3 times a year these days, tops. Travel annoyances get magnified and it’s just a different experience, mostly boring.

And boring just means I scrolled through my phone a dozen times or so, looking for readable material, and walked around, watching people and writing stories about their lives in my head, all good fun.

I also travel light, just a small bag that easily fits under the seat in front, so I never worry about boarding late or waiting at baggage claim. I pack three days’ worth of clothes, since I know how to wash them, a couple of chargers and some shampoo. I have no business even pretending to have travel woes. I’m home.

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Julie and John had choir practice last night, which typically ends around 8:30pm. With the delay, I wouldn’t hit the tarmac until 10:15pm at least, and as it turned out that was in the furthest terminal from baggage claim, the dreaded D. The long walk, no tram, no people movers at all. Just carpet and shoes, and tired travelers. I walked directly from the plane to the sidewalk, and it still took me 15 minutes to get outside.

I suspected the two of them would just hang around church, maybe head out to a restaurant for a late snack, but it turned out friends found out and sent them on their way. One of them, who lives down south closer to the airport, picked me up and drove me home, which made me crazy for a while.

Seriously. I’m not in a place right now where I’m comfortable feeling beholden to people, even people who love me and want to help. It’s a long story and I’m not getting into it, except to say that we’ll muddle through, as people do. For the time being, I don’t want any favors and I was annoyed to have one thrust on me without having an option to make the call myself. I got over it.

On the other hand, it was good to relax and not worry for a week, knowing I had limited autonomy and really just needed to be grandpa and then dad. My daughter filled her refrigerator with grazing food, mostly taco fixings, and psychoanalyzed me three times. It was all good.

Instant tacos for the win.

Instant tacos for the win.

Except for sleep, which was marginal and practically nothing last night, a few hours. Of all the chaos that potentially can affect my life, I’ve got a handle on sleep. It’s a priority, and after a year of taking a medication that had a side effect of drowsiness, I got into a good pattern of sleep hygiene. This mainly involves not letting my head hit the pillow until I’m barely awake enough to make it to the bedroom. No screens for at least the last hour or two, nothing to distract me from zenning out and putting myself to sleep.

A small price to pay. I’m not sure it’s even a price.

Also, I got a haircut from my daughter, who thought I could go shorter and not offend the hair gods, who stopped paying attention to me years ago anyway, I think. My hair puts up a good front but then loses interest toward the back. My grandson would stand next to me on the sofa, gazing down, and at one point he patted the hair-challenged portion of my scalp and said, “Grandpa, from here I can see your real head.” Real enough, anyway.

So she trimmed a bit, not much, and I told my wife, then texted her this picture to prove that I wasn’t buzz cut.

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It’s a funny photo, to me. I was tired—it was a big grandparent day for me, lots of one-on-one, joyful and exhausting. I look goofy.

I kind of like that look, though. It reminds me of how I felt, which was goofy and madly in love with a 5-year-old, who knows and expects it. He can see my real heart from there, too. Anybody could.