I’ve been gone for somewhere between 24 and 48 hours. As the plane touches down at MCI, I think “home.” For two seconds I feel a hopeful calm. I’m overcome with the thought of my house. My living room with its bright red couches and teal curtains excite me and I have the urge to lie face down in the middle of the floor and make carpet angels, happily claiming “mine.”
During one of my last trips, this one several days instead of overnight, I updated my office IM with “I miss my cats.” It’s become a bit of a joke at work, but mostly it’s just a simple truth when I travel. I miss my cats. My cats with their insistent meows and contented purrs – my cats who claim me as home.
My journey started in Fort Lauderdale slightly before 3pm (local time.) Glad I didn’t have to run to make my flight, I still felt the anxiety of waiting – my journey home would mean a stop first in New Orleans and then another in Chicago. In total it would take about seven or eight hours – most of them in the air to make a trip that takes closer to 3 hours on a direct flight.
Finally home in Kansas City and sucking in familiar air, my impatience once again builds as I wait for the Parking Spot shuttle that will take me to freedom. I’m frustrated and annoyed because I know I do not have any cash with me and won’t be able t tip the driver who will help me with my bag. The drivers all seem to be slightly older, grey men with classic names like George and Charles. Tonight, it’s the white haired Jake who helps me. I’ve ridden with Jake before and hope that I hadÂ cash for a tip them. I am a very inconsistent tipper. Most times I forget to break $20’sÂ or simply forget to get cash. Skycaps and drivers have received tips of $5, $3, $1, or no dollars depending on what is available. I vow that next time I will have cash and if Jake is my driver, I will tip big to compensate for tonight.
As I sit on the shuttle staring at my long, black shellacked fingernails – hmm, definitely over grown and time to be cut and re-painted – I feel trapped. If Sartre and Beckett were to create a video game this would be it. A group of tired travelers, an old man who should be retired in his lounge chair and a bus. In the buss small dim lights cast a blueish hue on our skin. A loop of cheesy muzak grates our ears as the bus clunks along the scarred road. I am scowling quizzically wondering if it is the road orÂ a flat tire creating the disturbance. The muzak crescendos and lulls, the lights steadily shine, and the people look away trapped in their own thoughts of freedom from the machine that is not coming fast enough. Soon I am back to my fingernails – waiting to soak away the color and admiring it.
I will be in my Nissan soon. It will take me down the dark highway towards home. In the round-about there will be a deer. Sizable too and she will turn and run from my headlights. So many deer out lately. I will just be happy this one lives.
When I walk in the front door the carpet angel is forgotten. Instead, I will focus as I would any night on my pre-bed routine – feed the cats, turn out the light, and go upstairs where my soft green pajama pants are waiting. As I crawl into bed I wait and hope for that plonk next to me and then the rhythmic purr and weighty warmth of a kitten settling next to me for the night – home.