3:30 A.M., I wake, shower, and hope on a shuttle to the airport. The driver is talkative; he tells me about a sub-culture in Asia that is little off the local. He collects and posts Asian cover art of American Pop music cover songs. “What?” Yes that is my actual response; check out David Greenfield’s Gallery. Probability, you never know how, what, when or where you’ll intersect.
I am flying to Boston on a fact-finding trip. How does it compare to SF and would I consider relocation? I love SF, but on the company dime, the trip is hard to resist; and I think SF may be tired of my love. Boston is not a place I ever considered except for college. I went to TAMU and UT instead. I wasn’t a blue blood; I had to work 25 to 30 hours a week in a grocery store (12 to 5 A.M., 5 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., or a short shift, 5 to 11 P.M.) and carry a full load at school, 15 hours. After 90 hours, I got so sick I had to be quarantined for a week. I not only missed extra-curricular activities, like athletic games, clubs, and politics; I burned my ambition and my youth; the latter is lost to time. I transferred to UT and finished in 3 with a part-time school load, and a fulltime job at a quick print shop; BS, Math/CSE, English minor, and here I am chasing this crazy dream/nightmare that remains in the shadows, over the shoulder, out of the corner of my eye, just out of reach, but it will not leave me alone.
At my stop in Atlanta, my flight is cancelled because of weather in Boston, fog? Summer is the season of fog in San Francisco, but the delay must be a flip of the company dime or Karma. Passengers are to proceed to a customer agent at a gate a half a mile away. This airport is huge; it even has a faux underground tram to push you between the gates. I walk to push the clock, and between tram stops, the airport is a feckin’ mall. Dress stores, shoe stores, fetishes, and a full on food court, it’s been a while since I passed this way, but I suppose it is true. The greatest American Midwest architectural contribution of the last hundred years is the strip center shopping mall. I fall in behind a couple of business people with their roller bags and briefcases. I am drafting as they scramble, duck and weave, through the crowd ahead. The airport is shoulder-to-shoulder full.
“WKRP in Cincinnati,” the airline routes me through the Blue Chip City (blue chip because a cookie franchise swallowed its parent or it is a hub of cheap, blue chip, retail.) The flight to Cinci leaves in three and a half hours which puts me in Boston around 11:00 PM, instead of 6:30, damn. I converse with the agent to find a faster route, but with out enough bully in me, I sigh, roll my eyes and my shoulders, typical, OK. I walk to my new gate, a mile away, and purchase a bottle of water to go with a sandwich from home, my last two bologna slices with mustard, havarti cheese, and spring greens on an onion/cheese roll.
I have an hour and a half layover in Cinci, so I’ll try the Skyline Chili. It’s my first 4-way: it’s chili with a beef and cinnamon base over spaghetti with onions and cheese. I am tempted with a 5-way, add beans, but since weather is an act of God or something, and not my seatmates or stewards fault, a 4-way will do.
The chili is good. It is sweet with a smooth bite. I would have never thought of using cinnamon. As I relish the last twirl of pasta, the clock is running. I check my watch. I am fine, but when I arrive at the gate, the flight is almost finished boarding, yikes, and I don’t have a seat assignment. In my laissez faire brain cloud, wide-open eye, go with the moment, I forgot to check-in. I hope I am not bumped. I scramble to the counter agent. As she assists a young man work out a thorny reroute on the next flight, the gate agent calls final boarding. I don’t have any time left. The counter agent notices my desperate nervousness and interrupts her focus. She assigns me a seat. My Cinci chili break was almost an over night romp. I am the last passenger to run down the ramp to the plane.
I wait at baggage claim for an hour, but my bag took an alternate route. It is already off the conveyor and in full view, DOH! I hail a cab to the Fairmont in Copley Square. As we dive under the harbor, I ask the cab driver about the weather. In an Jamaican accent, he says the heat is bad in the dog days of summer, and the humidity will kill you. The winters are tolerable if you don’t go out too much, but it can drop below zero. “Ya mon.” I ask about automobile plates and smog check. He says the yearly is about $50 and the inspection is $29. He drops me at the front door at Boylston and Dartmouth. The Fairmont is diagonal from an 18th century gothic Trinity Church, and on the opposite diagonal, the public library, and the Fairmont is next to a 50 story modern skyscraper, the tallest in Boston. The reflection of the Trinity in the first five floors of the scraper is eerie. A metaphor for the new and old of the right and left coast, my journey from SF, “Go West Young Man,” to the past, Boston, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.”