It's Probably The City That Never Sleeps Because Everyone Has Jetlag

Quick, think of the most annoying thing you could ever possibly hope not to find in an airport departure lounge. You thought of a xylophone, right? I mean, obviously.

Okay, maybe you didn't think of a xylophone, but you should have. A xylophone, it turns out---especially a xylophone played tunelessly at the hands of a bored five-year-old---is probably the most irritating sound in the world, and it's not just irritating but it literally makes you anxious, all that high-pitched plinking and plonking about. Do you want to be anxious before a flight? More anxious, I mean? No. No, you do not. You probably also don't want to have charges of homicide brought against you (so inconvenient), but whoever decided to install two xylophones at gate 54 in the brand new Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport didn't think of that, did they?

Look, I even took a video to show you how annoying it was. Please use this as my defense if I am ever convicted. Alternatively, use it to torture any hostages you might have. I think you'll find you can get them to talk.

The rest of the terminal is gorgeous, by the way. I know we're not all airport nerds like me---What? No, I wasn't stalking Virgin America's Facebook page for pictures before it opened! You must be looking at someone else's browser history!---but it is, xylophones aside, one of the most pleasant airport experiences you're likely to have. The policemen ride bicycles inside! There's a Pinkberry and a store that sells Cowgirl Creamery cheese! One of the TSA agents bought me dinner first before she groped me at the security checkpoint! Okay, that last one's not true. But she did smile apologetically. It's a start.

So I'm in New York all week for work, which is very exciting for me because I love New York. Also, I get to work my way through this list of eats again, systematically, until none of the pairs of pants I have brought with me fit in a comfortable manner. My dad, coincidentally, is also in New York for a few days this week---he retired, if you remember, but he now does a bit of ad-hoc consulting---and so we met this evening at my hotel, which has a very pleasant complimentary wine reception, and had a drink like two important businesspeople. Then we walked to Shake Shack and had cheeseburgers like two ravenous tourists. 

There is something about seeing your family in a situation where you're not entirely expecting to see your family that is immensely comforting. All day long, I'd been holding it together like a responsible professional---meeting partners, making decisions, giving out business cards, being "on"---and then there was my dad, familiar as ever, walking through the hotel lobby to give me a hug. Man, what crazy things the world throws at us sometimes, huh? What a coincidence. What a gift.

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Apr 18, 2011

Two summers ago I had that same experience in Boston. I was out there interviewing for a job, taking a qualifying exam and generally getting myself around the city on my own for a couple of days. And then my mom showed up and I almost burst into tears because my mommy was there.

Nothing But Bonfires
Apr 18, 2011

Exactly. You've been a grown up all day and the minute a parent shows up, you don't have to be a grown up anymore and it's such a relief. I wonder if that ever goes away.

Apr 18, 2011

Wow. That was like the soundtrack to a horror film. Did the kid have a pasty complexion and glassy eyes that stared off in the distance as he played? Because if he did, I would have bolted.

Camels & Chocolate
Apr 19, 2011

I think I would be extremely delighted if your dad were to walk through my hotel lobby right now (in Waikiki, not NYC, that is). He is one of the nicest men I've ever met, and his smile and his energy are simply contagious. Enjoy your time there!

Apr 19, 2011

This is great! The link to 'What you ate' not the cringe-inducing video. I'll be in NY next week and this is a great list.

Apr 19, 2011

What kind of person approves (AND PAYS FOR) two noisemakers to be installed in a public place? I mean, I could understand the oddball piano since there are a great deal of people trained in how to actually play said instrument, but a xylophone? TWO OF THEM?

No, no, no.

Apr 19, 2011

Sometimes when my mum comes to see me at university I feel like telling her to just take me home and look after me again. Lame.

Apr 19, 2011

Once when I was in first grade I was trying to run to be first in line to go in from recess. I ran into one of my friends and bounced off her like one of the playground kickballs landing squarely on my chin. I did not cry the whole time until my mom came to take me for stitches. Then I cried for the rest of the day. I was so relieved that she was there to take care of me.

Also, I thought you might have been exagerating a tiny bit until I played the video. Then I decided you did not do it justice. There just aren't words for that bad decision.

Have fun in the big apple!

Apr 19, 2011

I ran into my brother in Seattle one time (we both live in Durham, NC). I was there with my then-boyfriend and his sister and husband on a little mini-vacation and my brother was there for a medical conference. They day I bought my ticket we had this "WAIT WHEN ARE YOU GOING?!" moment.

We visited the Pike market Starbucks together, as any coffee-loving brother/sister pair would. It was quite a moment. I told him if I was Mom I would say he needed to be wearing "real shoes not flip flops". We bonded.

Apr 19, 2011

Yes, yes, exactly yes. I went to visit my sister a while ago and the whole way there I navigated O'Hare like it ain't no thing, made polite small talk with the person on the plane next to me, picked up my rental car and found the hotel no problem. Once my parents arrived? Pure relief. I'm tired and really hungry and my mom and dad are here so they can make decisions now. I don't think that feeling ever goes away.

Apr 19, 2011

I still feel that way and I have two kids. Or maybe I feel that way, even more so, *because* I have kids. When my mom comes for a visit it's like "phew, the real parent is here now, she can take over and I can stop pretending like I know what I'm doing." :)

Pretzel Thief
Apr 19, 2011

Dude, I so would have lost my cool with that xylophone "soundtrack" "playing" in the background. Pah! Egads!

Your dad story made my heart ache. Having lost my beautiful father -- with whom I was indelibly close -- 17yrs ago, I love when I hear/read stuff like this because I imagine (nay, know) this is what I would have had with my dad had he lived. I am rapt that you're blessed with it and may it continue for many, maaaany more years yet!

Apr 19, 2011

Hi. Your post reminded me of some lines from a favourite poem that always fills my heart with joy, the way a good day or a pleasant surprise often can do too.

World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural.

Louis MacNeice

Apr 19, 2011

Ah, enjoy the visit to NYC and with your dad. How special! When I lived in D.C. my dad visited me a few times and it was always so special. We did things together that were part normal (my every day life that he rarely got to see from CA) and totally NOT normal (an expense account dinner at The Palm curtesy of my boss). Thanks for reminding me.

I see my parents all the time now since we live so close, and the feeling of relief that adults are in charge when I see them has totally faded. I'm a mom, and my mom cares for my son while I work. Instead of relief that she's arrived, I usually feel a tiny bit of dread that now my kid is going to work me over until Gramma gives in. ;)

Shut The Folk Up
Apr 19, 2011

I keep watching that video and I keep cracking up. I love the way the kid pauses for a second near the start and you think, phew, he's finished...and then he launches into another rendition of his discordant pre-flight lullaby. He probably works for Delta.

Apr 19, 2011

Try one two-year-old playing a xylophone in your living room. That's pretty bad too.

Apr 19, 2011

I have an official request....I'd like your parents' advice on child-rearing, since you all seem so well-adjusted and loving toward one another. Go ahead and get on that, will ya?!

Apr 19, 2011

I just had the opportunity to see my dad at the end of a whirlwind 5 city work tour. It was just so grounding to not have to be the one in charge of the whole world for a few hours.

Unrelatedly: Have you been to Singapore? I'm going on my first trip there in June and any travel pointers would be AMAZING.

Apr 19, 2011

LOVE these last two sentences:

Man, what crazy things the world throws at us sometimes, huh? What a coincidence. What a gift.

Apr 19, 2011

Parents are the best thing in the world. The end. I always love your family post because you seem to love your parents as much as I love mine. Those relationships are special.

Apr 20, 2011

Hey Holly, I ABSOLUTELY know what you mean. I'm an actress, and sometimes it's so tricky switching between Professional Face and Personal Face. The one thing that pulls me through on all accounts, keeps me grounded, and always reminds me of what blessings I have are the people I've known since childhood always popping up and being RIGHT THERE at all my critical moments. They're so wonderful. They're so comforting!

Glad you're enjoying NY!

Apr 20, 2011

I would also like your parents advice on childreading, please. I have thoughts of asking many times before, but i thought it might be creepy. Now that someeone else has inquired, i feel it's perfectly suitable. haha. . .

No, really. Can your parents do some guest posts on their parenting philosophies/styles/beliefs please? Also, you and your brother (the one who writes about music) are both excellent writers. What are the odds of that? Two writers in one family? What did you parents do? Was this the luck of the draw or did they recite poetry to you while potty training? I need to knooooooooooooooooooooooow.

Guest posts, please.

Your whole family is adorable. Mine is crazy, so I so appreciate how cute and wholesome and lovely you all are.

Apr 20, 2011

You are such a beautiful writer. I thought this would be a funny one, but instead it was such a heart one. Sometimes they are both, but that ending was just exactly right. Lovely.

And a toast to parents!

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