You know what I don't really want to see again for a very long time? I don't really want to see another airport. In the last five days alone, I've walked through, waited in, and shaken my fist at six---San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Charleston, Charlotte, Orlando, and Denver---and now they're all starting to blur together in a terrible montage of Wolfgang Puck Express sandwiches and endless moving walkways. As if that weren't enough, I'll be dragging my bags through terminals in Hong Kong and Singapore next week, and then a few days after I get back from that trip, I'll be slipping my shoes off in the security line at JFK, Dusseldorf, and Berlin airports*. And then after that, I'm not traveling for, like, six hundred years. In fact, I shall lock myself in my house like Brian Wilson and turn into one of those people who have their groceries delivered.
(*Yes, Berlin! I'm going to Berlin for work during the second week of June, and just between you, me, and the rest of the Internet, I'm so excited I could scream. Do you know what Germany has? Only the best gummy bears---or gummibärchen---on the planet, that's what. Plus, I'm going to take a bike ride on the trail of the old Berlin Wall, and eh, you know, I guess that'll be pretty cool too.)
(I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to the breakfasts in Germany, by the way. When I was sixteen, I went on a German exchange program to a small town in the south called Schwäbisch-Gmund---try saying that five times fast---where I stayed with a lovely family called the Fuchslochs, and the breakfasts they had at their house, MY GOD. There were pastries and tarts and pies and buns and warm rolls and cheese and cold meats and a neverending pot of strong, dark coffee with real cream, and I was all, um, wow, a bowl of Special K would have been fine, but this? This is like an amazing dream. Please, Mrs. Fuchsloch, don't ever wake me up.)
Anyway, you don't want to hear about Germany, you want to hear about Charleston, or actually, maybe you don't want to hear about Charleston at all, maybe you want to hear about Matthew McConnaughey or quantum physics or how I stepped in my cat's puke WITH BARE FEET this evening, but Charleston it is, I'm afraid, although there isn't really that much to say about Charleston, really, because Charleston was great, and you were all right: I was being nervous for no reason. Nothing had changed and no-one had changed, and everything slotted right back into place just like it was supposed to.
At several points during the weekend, in fact, I totally forgot I was visiting and kept thinking I was going to go back to my big old pink house on Charlotte Street when the evening was over, and climb up the creaky wooden stairs and open the front door to find Sean lying on the couch under the whirring ceiling fan, a cat perched on his tummy. Of course, a bunch of students appear to live in our old apartment now---or else just people who think decorating with old license plates and empty beer bottles is hilariously tongue in cheek---so that wouldn't have been possible at all, but still, slipping so comfortably back into my old life there did make for some fairly surreal moments.
(Also, my spray tan? Kind of a letdown. I mean, don't get me wrong, it looked fairly excellent on Saturday morning---I was so tan I'm sure I confused people at the airport when I came off the "just landed from San Francisco" plane rather than the "just landed from Aruba" one---but it faded after a day or two, and I guess I was just expecting it to stick around a little longer. Also, I'm not sure how long it will take me to get over the trauma of having to run through the spray tan positions with the spray tan attendant before stepping into the machine: there are four moves, and we practiced them in unison a good three times before he'd let me get in the booth and try them myself. Honest to god, we looked like we were rehearsing for a Backstreet Boys video.)
(If you'd like more of a mental image, here is a hilarious French sort of....anime version of it. It's the best representation I could find. You actually do have to do all of those moves, although in very quick succession. In fact, I think I might pioneer it as the next dance craze. Look out for it at a discotheque near you!)
After Charleston, I headed to Orlando where, did you know, there are about seventy million hotels, and right now I could probably tell you pretty much anything about any of them. Part of what I was doing down there involved driving between a lot of different properties, and I tell you, I was so scared of being behind the wheel---in a strange car, in a strange city---that I had nightmares about it for weeks beforehand.
I've talked a little before about my (newfound) fear of driving---I do it so infrequently in San Francisco that the last time I got in the driver's seat of a car, I had a panic attack, with actual shaking and sweating and hyperventilating and tunnel vision, and I really thought Sean was going to have to throw a glass of water in my face to get me to calm down---and so it was with great relief and surprise that I found myself adjusting fairly quickly to driving in Orlando. It helps, of course, that it's wide and flat and they're used to tourists taking the wrong exit, but I was particularly proud of the fact that I only had two near-miss accidents, and that I only called the female voice on my GPS unit a bitch twice.
Also, I very nearly ran over someone dressed in army fatigues---one of the hotels I visited was hosting some sort of military convention, so there were lots of army personnel wandering around as I was leaving---but I'd like to believe I get a free pass on that one because, hey, he was wearing camouflage and standing near some trees, and so I didn't see him alright? That shit works, is all I'm saying.