December 12, 2010

Fragmented Vignettes

I am officially getting old. Not in the bad way, but in the “I don’t give a shit what people think” way. At Reagan airport tonight, I scarfed down a grilled chicken sandwich with fries while a man who looked alarmingly like Daniel Craig stood at the counter next to my table, working on his laptop, with a perfect view into this scene of gluttony. And I did not care. There was a time in my life when I would have been so self-conscious about this that I would not have eaten the sandwich…well, that’s not true, but I would have moved to another table for sure. Or maybe sat in a bathroom stall and gorged myself in the privacy and comfort of a public airport bathroom.

You know, there is nowhere to cry in an airport where you won’t be witnessed by thousands of people. There should be private crying rooms. Right now, I am wedged into a window seat, next to a large, yet pleasant man, and behind a woman who keeps trying to make her seat back recline COMPLETELY. Apparently, she is under the impression that if she just keeps trying, the seat will eventually go back far enough for her to be completely prone in my lap. And I feel like I have to pee. But the large man is sleeping. I want to move to another seat but I can’t tell if one is open behind me. And at this point, I wish this plane had a crying room because I would lock myself in it and wail. I am not particularly sad, just over emotional. It happens when I travel and am on the road for work. I think it’s really frustration. One has limited choices and control during an air travel trip. It is taxing.

No, really lady, why don’t you just lay your head in my lap and I will massage your temples? It’s ok, it’s not like I actually need my knee caps for anything. Same goes for the shins, which are now likely bruised beyond recognition.

I am not traveling next week and then I am off for the 2 weeks after that. I am looking forward to the break, but the holidays bring their own level of stress. First and foremost is the sadness. Christmas Day is lonely without my mother and 2 oldest sisters. It used to be an entire family gathering. The last time the whole family was together at Christmas was in 2004, the Christmas before the storm. It snowed on Christmas Day that year. We all went to Emily’s house and Mike and I joked that Old Metairie had special ordered the snow flurries for Christmas. It was cold. Max and Mark weren’t born yet and Alice and Angelle still lived in Lakeview. Mom was alive and we thought she had once again averted cancer by having her left breast completely removed in October. I didn’t know that was going to be our last Christmas together…I suppose you never know something like that.
The other day, I was taking Max to my Aunt Mary’s house to drop off some Christmas greens she ordered from his school and we drove past the house I grew up in on Blanke Street. I slowed down in front of the house to show Max where I grew up and he asked if we could go inside. I said no because we didn’t live there anymore, but then I noticed no one lived there. There were papers piled on the front porch and the mailbox (which had not been there when I lived there – we had a slot in the solid front door) was overflowing with junk mail. There was even a lockbox on the front door, but no “For Sale” sign out front. We got out of the car to peer in the windows and the house was different. The wall between the front living room and the back den was gone and the shag carpet had been replaced with wood flooring. I couldn’t tell if the dining room was still a dining room or an office. We walked around back and the back wall of logustrums was gone, replaced with a wood fence. The fig tree Mom had planted was also gone, as was the Elmer’s glue art I had created on the driveway one afternoon.  A new driveway had been poured and next to it, a new AC unit. The driveway was curved such that I think each family member hit the AC unit at least once backing out of the driveway. A few of us hit the garage wall more than once.
Peering into the back bedroom, I saw just how small the space was the Emily and I shared. I swear I think the room was barely 8x8. There were always bees outside the window of that room, and they are still there, nesting between the bricks and the siding. The tether ball pole that Emily and Alice dropped on my head one afternoon is also gone, perhaps along with bits and pieces of my brain.

Most notably, I noticed just how small the house was. In my memory, the house was huge. Even though I was 19 when we moved, it still seems smaller than I remember. Maybe because there was no furniture, or maybe because, the majority of my memories of that house are from early childhood.  Even the backyard, in my mind, had been much, much larger than it was in reality. The wall of logustrums had provided hours of fun as we used to have races – who could climb through them from one end to the other the fastest. They were a great hiding place as well. I wish there was a wall of logustrums on this plane. I would crawl into them and separate myself from the world for a few hours.

I don’t write often enough anymore to have clear and coherent blogs. Instead, I seem to produce vignettes of a scattered mind.  Perhaps my New Year’s resolution will be to blog more often, finally crank out a book of some sort, or just empty my head of the clutter.

This flight is never going to end. I am going to be on this plane for eternity, being punished for some crime, unable to unfold my legs or stretch my arms, my laptop cutting into my gut because Miss “I must be prone” in front of me has eaten up six inches of space in front of me.