Saturday, January 2, 2010

Travel Blog II .... and a quick update...

Hey everyone,

I'm back in Lenox for the next 12 hours or so, then make my way to Long Island tomorrow to begin a month-long residency in the Hamptons.

I left Calgary last night/this morning ... my flight was at 1:00 a.m., though we sat on the tarmac for an hour, waiting for bags to be loaded. I was crying into my window seat, trying to sleep, and not sob too loudly at the same time. Don't get me wrong, it was a FABULOUS 15 days. But leaving is getting harder and harder; especially when it involves leaving my loved one for months at a time, and therein, leaving my home. It's been continually surprising to me that I abhor leaving Calgary as much as I do. I mean, I REALLY hate it. And this is coming from a creature who thrives on traveling, and going to new places, and having new experiences. I'm accustomed to a certain buzz whenever I walk into an airport. When I leave Calgary, the buzz is non-existent. In fact, the buzz turns into one of the worst heart-hangovers imaginable; increasing in pain with each departure.

To add insult to injury, I was subject to Homeland Security's most recent creation: personalized pat-downs for every man, woman, and child to enter the airport. Not only do you get your very own Homeland Security guard, it's suited to your specific gender! The problem with this system (besides the embarrassment of being *majorly* felt-up in public, NOT by your consent), is that there tend to be more male security guards than female. So the male line, much like any public restroom ever built, tends to move very quickly.

And the women stand and wait. And get really bitchy.

I stood there, for 45 minutes, unmoving - watching the woman in charge radio desperately for more female security guards; and smiling smugly when the other women in my line started to call her out. Now, the woman was only doing her job. I realize this. The poor management isn't even her fault, since Homeland Security clearly didn't stop to think about the details related to instigating full-on security pat-downs by gender. It was an eventful morning.

Things like this bring out my inner-rebel. My first impulse was to volunteer to get searched by a male guard, but my better angel told me that that course of action probably wouldn't get me very far. When it was finally my turn, arms at full wingspan, casually watching as the female guard took her middle and index fingers to search the outline of my bra (and thereby, my breasts), I really really REALLY wanted to say, "You know, you're not NEARLY as good as my girlfriend."

Again, my anti-jail voice kept my angry inner-monster at bay. It did almost slip again, however, when she then informed me that she would be searching inside the inside of my jeans, at the band. I was very nearly ready to physically stop her hand.

Jail, prison, trial, more prison ... being banned from entering Canada ever again, let alone becoming a citizen ...

I have one sharp grasp on the bigger picture.

After my public physical abuse, I was made to board a bus that took me to the smallest terminal I've ever seen (especially for a major international airport like Toronto...). In fact, the thought that entered my brain as we approached was, "This must be where they keep all the reject planes." And indeed, that's kind of what the terminal was. A panoply of tiny, 18-seater aircrafts bound for the shorter destinations in the US, like Allentown, or Cleveland...or Albany. This flight was also delayed ... again, because of baggage, and also because the plane hadn't been turned on. That's right. The plane needed to be charged and ready to go before they were prepared to let passengers on. And because of that, there was no heat on the plane. In Toronto, it was -13 Celsius. So I will repeat again,


Not only that, but we had to walk outside to the terminal, Carey Grant style, walk up the built in steps that also served as the plane's door, and sit in seats that felt like plastic fold-able picnic chairs. The plane also had propellers, which I think is becoming more and more of a novelty in flying these days. I don't think I've seen one in awhile, and I'm fairly certain I've never flown in one. To give you an idea of how small it was, when we hit turbulence (and oh BOY, did we hit some turbulence) the plane didn't just do the normal up/down jump. No, it also skidded side-to-side, as though it were skating really badly on the clouds. Airplanes should not remind one of four year olds trying to play peewee hockey.

I really had no other recourse than to put my head down and try to sleep some more. I found this incredibly difficult, however, because it was so cold. My legs in particular were quite cold. Being the resourceful traveler that I am, I thought, "Why don't you just put your head down over your knees, and let yourself keep yourself warm!" Brilliant! I thought to myself (we get along very well, myself and I). And I did just that. And it worked! I was tightly wrapped in my fleece and car-coat, hugging my alpaca wool-wrapped hands across my stomach, my hood-draped head bent low against the seat ahead of me (in case you didn't know, I'm 5'10.5" - small spaces are not my forte). And I slept.

I woke up to my ears popping as we started to make our descent into Albany, NY. There I was, quite snuggly and warm ... and drool all over my coat. Apparently my whole head-against-the-seat-ahead-of-me idea to keep my legs warm came at a price. There was no one sitting next to me. Thank God.

So we arrived in Albany. My bags made it (which they did NOT do on my initial flight to Vancouver), my friend was there to pick me up. I had some coffee and the smallest egg/bacon/cheese wrap that Dunkin' Donuts has ever made, and was feeling quite proud of my major accomplishment of making back to New England alive and (somewhat) intact, when I realized that I had forgotten to arrange housing for myself ... for tonight. And while S&Co. has plenty of company housing, the January month-long training intensive started on Monday. So there's no room at the inn. Have no fear, dear reader. I have commandeered a room in a house off the S&Co. campus. Yep. I'm officially squatting in the house I lived in all Fall. Thank God no one in the Berkshires locks anything.

I rock.

[Someday, and I'm hoping someday soon, I'll be less spastic and slap-dash. Until then, a bear's gotta do what a bear's gotta do.]

So, here I am, sitting at the Lenox Coffee house, listening to music that makes me think of my love, an empty tea cup with the remnants of Earl Gray, looking out a cold, snowing Lenox. And for the first time, I'm not happy to be here. I'm hoping that my trip to Long Island tomorrow will yield some adventure and excitement, especially neither me nor my partners knows where the hell we're going, as none of us have ever been to the Hamptons ... but somehow, until I'm able to throw myself head-long into the work of Shakespeare and children of greatly varying ages, I think I'll go mope around in the snow, and be incredibly indulgent in the lonely coldness that seems to have infused itself into my bones. (Cheerful little thing, ain't I?)

I will not, however, end with that. Here are the highlights of my trip to Calgary, that was so lovingly, so awe-inspiringly made possibly by you. Yeah, you. You know who you are. Especially that funny little blonde who calls herself my best friend.

1) I got to see my first Canadian hockey game. It was a dirty game, but I will NEVER forget it. All thanks to the best sister-in-law-to-be ever.

2) I met Liz's parents for the first time. And I love them. Of course.

3) I met Janis, Liz's bestie, for the first time - which is bizarre, because we've had several lengthy facebook chats over the course of the past four months or so.

4) I played Buck Hunter for the first time...and didn't do too badly!

5) Canadian beer. Mmmmmmmmm.

6) NYE with one of my all-time favorite families ever. Including three cats, two mice, a dog, and an axolotl. And more beer.

7) Hockey highlights at 6:00 a.m. BOSS AWESOME.

8) Walks in the snow, holding her hand.

9) My first white Christmas. EVER.

10) Getting to spend half a month and two very important holidays with the woman I love.


"I dream a highway back to you, love."

[Okay, okay, I'll stop.]
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