I've felt a little out of sorts ever since getting back from Iowa last month on the 19th. The weird feeling started at my parents' house, where they've undertaken a large and long-awaited construction project. For the most part, they're trying to get the house back to the way it was before it underwent a series of disastrous mid-20th-century remodels. No more logic-defying floor plan, no more pointless dropped ceilings, no more fake beams, bizarre sparkly white bricks and green shag carpeting -- woohoo!
Except that, well, the thing is that those sparkly bricks and shag carpeting, as ugly as they were, were home. They've been part of my life since I was born. And I know the house is going to be really, really great when it's done, but remodeling is one of those worse-before-it's-better deals, and right now it's all sheets of plastic and piles of scrap baseboard and nothing where I'm used to having it. My parents have taken over Maya leadsynth's old room until their new bedroom is done, and my old room is piled up with stuff from the soon-to-be office and dining room, so we slept on couches and the floor while we were visiting. It was wonderful to see my family, but I left feeling like we hadn't really been home.
After my parents dropped us off at the Minneapolis airport on the 18th to fly back to our respective cities, I was struck by a powerful urge to not go back to Portland, but to just go to Chicago with Maya instead. I wanted to be close to her, and I wanted early fall in Chicago, and I wanted to not be on a plane for four hours -- but I especially missed and wanted her house. Strange, right? I think that it was the not-being-home thing. I'd had a concept of what "home" would be, I'd been expecting it, I hadn't gotten it, and now some part of me was demanding it -- or the closest substitute available, anyway. When I finally stopped hugging Maya to let her get on her plane and walked across the airport to wait for mine, I actually considered it for a few moments. If my flight was overbooked, I thought, I'd volunteer to fly to Chicago instead. Why not do it, just for a few days? I could work from anywhere. Hell, I could get up at 10:30 in Chicago and still be on time for work on Portland hours.
Then it turned out that my flight was overbooked. Once it was actually in the realm of possibility, the Chicago thing didn't seem like that great of an idea after all. How and when would I get back to Portland? What if my boss wanted to meet in person? But, feeling spontaneous, I volunteered not to fly anyway. In return they were offering a $300 voucher from Northwest Airlines, a boarding pass for the same flight 24 hours later, and a free night at the nearest Ramada. Wi-fi, solid water pressure, Adult Swim -- these are things you can't get at my parents' house, and they were sounding good. And an actual bed after two nights on the couch: not such a terrible thing, either. It wasn't a very difficult decision.
I still had to work the next morning, though. My plan was to get to a place where I could work by eleven, which was nine in Portland. I packed up my stuff bright and early and walked out of the hotel around eight, thinking I could walk to a bus stop, bus it downtown and everything would be cool. Unfortunately, it had been dark when we had gotten to the hotel the previous night and I hadn't realized where I was, namely, between the airport and the Mall of America. Walking is practically against the law there. Still, I saw a big "MetroTransit" sign on the building across the howling freeway to my right. Ah, that must be where I was supposed to get on the bus! I walked over there. It took a long time. There were people and buses, but it wasn't a bus stop, it was the public transportation office building, and a MetroTransit guy in front of the building took one look at me and said "Hi, you need help." A statement, not a question. He ended up pointing me in the direction of another bus driver who actually let me on his bus before his route had started and took me to a different place, where I got on a different bus, which took me where I was trying to go. Midwesterners, man. They're really, really nice. In a really blunt sort of way. I'm allowed to generalize about them because I am one.
Needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot done that day. I did manage to start work on time, but it was hard to concentrate, and I still didn't feel right. Having played the what-might-not-have-trans-fats game with the hotel vending machine the previous night probably didn't help a whole lot, either. Finally, I got back to the airport (on the light rail! it was swell) and made a Starbucks purchase for the first and only time in my life. (A bagel and a medium Earl Grey tea. I refuse to use their size names.) I had thought that I might try to work on the plane, but the table at my seat was kind of broken and there was no place to put my laptop, and it was a bumpy flight, and oh, hell, why am I making excuses? Who can ever get a damn thing done on a plane anyway? Flying sucks. I need to remember that. I always try to romanticize it, or think of it as a brief vacation from life, or even (as so many pop songs would have it) as a transformative experience -- and then it just ends up sucking so much harder because I had expectations.
Right, so I got back home a day later than expected, which just sort of added to the weirdness. At first I thought that I felt out of sorts because I hadn't been to the gym for several days. Then I thought that I hadn't been to the gym for several days because I felt out of sorts. When I finally went, I discovered that my gym was closed for cleaning until the 30th. I was disappointed, but it was a relief to actually know why I wasn't going to the gym. Because it was closed, of course! I finally made it back this past Friday, after letting altogether too much time slide by, and my plan since then has been to make up for lost time by going every day for two weeks. That and I'm going to make myself study for the damn GRE every day. I already screwed up by doing neither yesterday, but that's because I got home at 7 a.m. yesterday morning from the party I went to Saturday night. (And then went back last night!) I feel like I lost a day in there somewhere. I don't know. But I got to play at a house party and a bunch of people liked my stuff, I think. Or two house parties. Or actually, the same party on two different nights. That was a first.
Wow. I'm tired. Reading Hofstadter counts as studying for the GRE...right?