Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Hello gentle reader.  I started jotting things down for this project way before I figured out a blog software, so the first several posts will be "anteposts" with actual dates earlier than their apparent ones.  

Here's how they start— most posts will be much shorter than this one, but I wanted to leave this intact because it was, you know, a moment.

SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2013

OK.  I'm writing this having just drunk a scotch on the rocks and a pint of Smithwick's, taken a "muscle relaxant" pill that my doctor told me was really good for sleep and to seal the deal, two of those over-the-counter buddies that used to be called Sominex.  It's 8:42 pm and I'm in the departure lounge, waiting to board the red-eye.

I'm not writing this into any blogging software-- I expect very soon to be too sleepy to figure out anything like that-- and in any case I'm too cheap to pay for the airport's boingo™ wireless.  But I have been thinking that maybe it would be worth keeping a blog of this adventure, spurred on by a handful of different folks who quite flatteringly proposed the idea (without, BTW, my having proposed it first.)  So why not start it already, here in EWR?

The kinds of non-usual experiences one hopes will accompany a half-year like this have started.  I spent a weird 24 hours in New York from 3pm yesterday to 3pm today (when I lugged my stuff onto the Newark Airport train at Penn.)  It was wonderful, really-- it's hard to love NYC when it's 94 degrees, I don't need to tell most of you that-- but everything I did during that 24h had a lovely valedictory feel to it.  (Is that the word?)  Like, one last morning iced coffee and muffin from the deli.  One last slice of eggplant and basil pizza from the corner shop.  Ah, what a nice block kind of thing.  The potency of that familiar feeling -- turning off the lights in the apartment and locking the door behind, everything squared away -- was multiplied by quite a bit given the longer absence sprawling ahead.  And yesterday, as I pulled into New York on the bus from Ithaca, I did feel a surge of love for that skyline seen from Jersey-- high downtown and midtown, a valley where the Villages are (and Chelsea)-- a real mountain range made from people's ambitions (or maybe I should say dreams? or maybe I should just admit it's been mostly naked greed).  In any case, it sure looked beautiful then.  And same thing leaving it on the train to EWR-- from that vantage point, the new World Trade Tower seemed prominent in a way that felt right.  I don't like the building-- not because it's such a monument to capitalism, no, it's that given the void it's meant to feel I think somehow I wish it were taller or more interesting or awesome.  But it just capped off, and from the train it looked tall and awesome enough.

I got to the airport very early (extremely early, by my standards) mainly because I'd done everything I needed to in the city, and my huge suitcase was burning a hole in my soul.  I've liked being here in EWR for a few hours -- ate, drank, and remembered how much I've always loved airports.  They still seem romantic to me, full of people going to amazingly far-flung places.  I develop a strange envy for the people who work there-- who talk casually every day about Milan and Tokyo (and Buenos Aires) with real immediacy-- even though I know whatever romance of those jobs probably wears off fast and those gorgeous global words must start to feel exactly as utilitarian as "file this" or "fries with that."  But to me they still sound gorgeous and global, and all the more this time, going somewhere far away myself for a while.  

It must be producing a kind of heightening of sensation, because I've been in this airport countless times and it rarely makes me feel like an important character in a glamorous movie.  I hope that heightened-ness persists-- I suppose, in the end, it's a way to describe the main reason one travels, though it's not until now that I'm thinking that, and heaven knows I've spent a lot of time thinking about what, exactly, I'm hoping to achieve during this time away.  My feeling of the romance of airports goes way way back to childhood, and I can't help but wonder if it had something to do with being gay, and of growing up in a small community with a different culture than my own-- the thrilling feeling of other things being out there, the feeling of escape.

The queue is starting, boarding soon.  Wooooo, I just sat up, no joke, these pills are starting to hit.  Ha, airport Ben and Jerry's, there you are across the way.  I'm about to board without having succumbed to your siren call.  Annnnd… here we go.

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