One If By Land

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.

1
HouseofJules
May 15, 2008

So glad you had a fabulous trip! I think those spray tan moves might be put to good use on the NKOTB tour. Not that I have tickets, b/c I don't... but it seems like it might be right up their alley.

Wolfgang Puck has been dead to me since I was flying back to Chicago from L.A. a few years ago. I was at LAX waiting for my departure flight after spending a weekend there for one of my friend's 30th birthdays, and more hungover than I'd been in a long time. The combination of a 2-day hangover & the fact that I hardly slept did not go well with the Puck caesar salad I ordered. I should have known, but it's a lesson learned.
Jules
House of Jules

2
Marguerite
May 16, 2008

Holly,I can't believe you are coming to Berlin! That's possibly the best news today (and it's only 10am HERE IN BERLIN)! Hmm, how do I put this without sounding like a stalker... Do you need a live-living-in-Berlin-person to give you tips on what to do, where to go, what to eat?

Because, I live in Berlin and could totally be your live-living-in-Berlin-person
person giving you tips and inside scoops on what to do (and where to shop for that trenchcoat if you're still looking for one...). Okay, enough with my excited gushing, I'm gonna calmly go back and read about your Charleston trip now!

3
Heather B.
May 16, 2008

Dearest HB 1.0, I happen to think that German gummy anything is amazing so if you happen (hint) to bring some back for me I might possibly adore you even more than I already do.

4
Ursula
May 16, 2008

I'd really like the muscle definition of the girl in the strange French video, please.

5
ellbee
May 16, 2008

Ha! You only called your GPS unit a bitch twice? On a recent work-related trip to Omaha (Motto: It's Not Really That Hard to Get Around Here) our GPS started our as "Abby", progressed through "Hooker" and quickly became "Dirty Dirty Whore". Because my friend and I are klassy like that. Kudos for being able to drive in an unfamiliar city...especially when you are out of practice.

6
kellilu
May 16, 2008

Haribo macht Kinder froh,
und Erwachsene ebenso!**

picture a bunch of 19-year-old university students singing that in unison! my German prof taught us the Haribo ad jingle not long after my brother welcomed me to the Hamburg airport by storming to the nearest newsstand to pick up those most marvelous of Gummibears! he insisted it was the only way to get over jetlag. Enjoy the rainbow-colored goodness!! (and the plethora of other lovely things to be enjoyed in Germany. (c:)

**transl., Haribo makes children happy, and grownups, too!

7
Scarlett
May 16, 2008

Oh real gummy bears are the best! Totally jealous and so totally excited for you.

Also, did you know you can change the voice on the GPS unit? I changed mine to a male British voice and it's as if The Bachelor is giving me directions. Cracks me up to no end. It also keeps me from telling off the female voice and telling her she's wrong, wrong, wrong meanwhile missing my turn ;-)

And I'm also pissy with airports right now. I should probably blog about it this weekend. It's a long story.

8
Luisa
May 16, 2008

Hooray, Berlin! My hometown. It's so fantastic - you're going to have an amazing time. Can't wait to hear about your adventures there!

9
Jen
May 16, 2008

lol okay I just cracked up out loud at the camouflage story. I'm glad Charleston was a good time! Now get some rest before your next crazy trip!

10
Mymsie
May 16, 2008

WOW - that video! It was like some bad avant-garde version of the S-A-F-E-T-Y dance! And that lady's anatomy was so odd - definitely not found in nature. And yet I'm compelled to watch again. Hmm...

11
Anne & May
May 16, 2008

You see, this is why I read your blog. I had no idea you had to dance in the spray tan booth. I feel so...with it. Is that Portuguese they're speaking? It would make sense. This video struck me as very un-French. I just kept watching it and saying Oh-la-la!

12
JRM
May 16, 2008

Slighty OT, how many languages do you speak?

13
Gretchen
May 16, 2008

I've never been to San Francisco, but from what I've seen from photos and movies, I'd be terrified to drive there too, or even worse, parallel park there, what with the narrow streets and steep hills and all.

I love, love, love that you called your GPS a bitch. I remember taking computer science as an undergrad on an old Fortan system, typing in "F*** you f*** you f*** you" and having the thing smugly reply "Command not recognized", which only made me type in more and worse swears.

14
Emily
May 16, 2008

Next time you're at Dulles, give me a holler. From my door to the airport is exactly 12 minutes. I'll even throw in a latte.

Also: Glad you avoided turning orange in the spray tan booth.

15
Sheila
May 16, 2008

That spray tan video was just... wow. Tell me, does the tan ever rub off on your clothes? How does it not coat your hair? I am perplexed.

Also? I do, in theory, understand your weariness at travel but I have to say your lawn looks mighty mighty green from over here on my side of the fence. Bad airport food notwithstanding, your exotic life has me pretty insanely jealous.

16
NothingButBonfires
May 16, 2008

JRM -- I speak French and German, but not as well as I used to be able to. Sheila -- it doesn't rub off on your clothes if you ask for the kind WITHOUT bronzer; at some places you have a choice (Magic Tan you do, Mystic Tan you don't.) Ask for the clear and you won't see anything rub off on your clothes at all -- it'll just develop over 6-8 hours and you'll wake up tan. And if it DOES rub off on your clothes or sheets, it comes out really easily in the laundry. Also, you wear a shower cap when you're in the booth so that it doesn't get on your hair. Hot!

17
yoko
May 16, 2008

i *love* that the soundtrack for the spray tan video is Carla Bruni, the First Lady of France...

18
chirky
May 16, 2008

I kind of got hung up on that bit about German breakfasts. I think I'll copy and paste that entire sentence onto my grocery list this weekend.

19
Moose
May 16, 2008

I'm with Chirky. I have to go reread the rest of your post because after the German Breakfast sentence my eyes glazed over and I started envisioning pastry and rich coffee.

20
superblondgirl
May 16, 2008

I hope that your thighs don't look like the cartoon spray tan lady's, because those were scary. I think she was a cartoon bodybuilder.
Also, in Germany, they have the best bubbles ever, Pustefix. Seriously, buy some. Blowing bubbles is fun and they come in a teddy bear-shaped bottle and last forever.

21
missbeegail
May 16, 2008

Practically fell off my chair laughing at the spry tan video. Then made officemates watch it. Then almost fell off my chair again when they imitated it in unison. MUCH funnier to imagine it with a shower cap on. Perhaps I should just sit on the floor when I read your posts?

22
Diane
May 18, 2008

I loved Berlin! Food was fantastic and the shopping was great! And I have to agree with you on the breakfasts - AMAZING! Cheese and pastry are high on my list of enjoyment but for breakfast - they totally rock!

Safe travels for all of your trips in the coming weeks!

23
Maren
May 19, 2008

I hate when the snobby GPS lady says "re-CAL-culating" when you take a wrong turn (or refuse to turn right onto that one way street she insists is the proper way to the flea market!). So condescending. We really wanted to teach her some manners.

24
ambika
May 19, 2008

This post made me remember the holiday I spent in Sulzbach-Rosenberg with a fellow English teacher (who's mother was Scottish) and the insane breakfasts I enjoyed with her family. I think her mom was actually offended when I couldn't eat more than one pastry. American breakfasts are great but can't really compare when it comes to the bread over there.