Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On my way

This is my plane. I'll be boarding shortly. If you were ever curious, this is how the meals make it on board prior to the passengers. A tuck bed lifted to the door, wheeled in by ground workers.

I'm in the Cincinnati airport. I've been reading "Coal for Diamonds: A Memoir," written by Beth Ditto and Michelle Tea(Ditto's memoir). It's a great book--I've barely looked up for the past hour, and when J called to wish me safe travels I was a little cranky with having to come out of my book world and back to reality. 

I hope I can sleep on the plane, despite my lovely bookworm tendencies. 

Dad brought me here a little early, so we were able to sit down and talk for awhile. I always love conversations with my dad. I recognize how lucky I am--to have such a good relationship with my dad, to be able to talk about family, to ask questions and get answers. It is always hard to say goodbye to him when I leave like this, but I know I'll come back a better person for it. Long travels are tough, but leaving and returning teaches me a lot...more than I can really put into words. Maybe it's all the time zone hopping, or all the waiting and being granted time to myself to read and think and reflect. I think every person should travel, if possible. Even if it's just a few hours drive to another city. Leave the comfort zone, go somewhere unfamiliar, miss the familiar a bit. Feel the rush of arrival. I don't know. I'm starting to understand the importance behind movement to the unknown. I feel stronger for it, even though I miss my family quite a bit.

Now I will go back to reading before we board. I'll be in Paris around six am(Paris time). I'll write my heart out during the layover, then head on to Egypt. Here's to safe travels, migraine free.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

random thoughts on de gaulle

Charles de Gaulle airport is the airport I would draw if someone gave me a piece of paper and said, "draw me an airport."

Structurally, it's quite attractive. Steel and glass, long walkways...you feel like you're in an airplane hangar.

This is France's largest airport. Worldwide? The eighth busiest. Despite thrones of people and gate numbers, you get used to the chaos.

I'll be here in a few days and I'm already bracing my back for the uncomfortable chairs and potential delays. There is something about airports that flares up my sense of worry. Maybe it's all that coming and going, the (mentally embellished) potential of going the wrong way and ending up in the wrong place. Maybe it's because I'm about to literally ascend into the air, away from the ground(the truth to all of this flying business that still blows my mind.

Charles de Gaulle has managed to trigger my migraines more than any other airport/traveling location thus far. During my first return from Egypt I spent 8 hours there with one that bloomed until I felt blind, stumbling through boarding with a plastic bag open in my hands, just in case the vomit I was withholding made an escape. The shock of red carpeting didn't help. My most loathed De Gaulle villain remains, forever and always, the rows of shops one must pass through to find their gate. So much perfume you can almost see drops of it around you, can feel your body cut through its accumulative cloud. Maybe this area smells delightful to others. For a migraine sufferer, it smells like a minefield.

Friday, September 26, 2014

About three years ago, my mac computer fell over with a white flag jutting up from her keyboard. She quit on me before I could properly back my photos and writings and whatnots up on an external hard drive, and I was left unprepared to farewell the poems and moments I saved for so long. Until this past week. A few months ago I bought a SATA drive, and J helped me pry out the (intact) hard drive from my old bunk computer. I wanted to cry when all my old word documents appeared...drafts to poems never finished, two book manuscripts(still in need of edits). Work I shed both tears and sweat over...words and photographs forgotten about...six years of things, there again. I plucked what I wanted from the wreckage and let the rest go, and I feel good about that. I let go of a lot. Except for the writing, of course. I kept the words, and I cannot wait to read through it all, make edits and rewrites, reintroduce myself.

Leaves fell with the breeze today--I noticed this. The brittle stalks of corn are being harvested--giant machines rolling slow along the rows, leaving broken bits behind no higher than a knee. The seasons are turning. It takes up all your senses here in small town Ohio. The harvested fields, piles of pumpkins at roadside stands, soybean fields tipped yellow. The air, especially in the evening, smells like burning leaves and bonfires. If you drive near the high school on Friday nights you can hear the announcer's echo and squawk at the football game. Mornings are chilly and the deer are plenty.

I'm digging the feeling of both rediscovery and change. Somewhere in the midst of it I'm reminded of who I am, what I want, and what I need. We could all use a bit of that now and again I think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

J's grandmother passed away as I was just beginning my visit in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. He scrambled to get a plane ticket home that wasn't outrageously priced after work insisted he take the time off and attend the funeral back here in the states. I'm glad he made it home.

I feel a bit guilty saying I was happy to see him, but it also seems unfair not to express it. Any extra time with him is valuable. It was very difficult to say goodbye to Helen. The weather was immaculate on the day of her funeral. J was one of a small handful that got up to read something for her, and with each reader, a rooster could be heard crowing in the near-distance. I watched the sun brighten itself through the incredible stained glass just in front of the pulpit. I like to think that was a bit of her checking in. Such a wonderful, fascinating woman.

Whenever J and I are both back in Ohio, it feels a little like defaulting to our younger selves. Part of that is being back in the place we grew up, and part of it is logistics--he stays with his parents and I live with my father right now. If driving long country roads to see my love before bedtime doesn't feel young, then I don't know what does. We went back to the only place immediately near us that stays open late to serve alcohol--the Applebees. The one we visit is the one we've always visited, ever since that wonderful kiss in the parking lot. This year they renovated it, for reasons unknown to us. No more random shit on the walls, no more of that Applebees flair. Just salmon paint, bartenders in referee shirts(destined to always remind me of Skateway) and an electric jukebox implanted into the back wall. This jukebox played a key part in our decision to pursue libations elsewhere going forward--one night a woman played a song from the musical Chicago and sang loudly along with it until the music notes faded and, goddamn it, she played it AGAIN and thus sang it again while other bewildered customers tried to concentrate on their riblet baskets. We took to randomly sing-shouting the (potentially misheard) lyrics to one another throughout the rest of his visit.

One of my favorite moments was us driving to Clifton for dinner and drinks. It is so rare, so so rare to be sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle while my love drives. This is one of those simple things that close-living couples might take for granted--the hum of car engine, bass rattle of hip hop, his hand on my leg and the window down. We opted for Mexican that night and went to our preferred place for drinks afterward. Outside, a man played a slow "Billie Jean" on his acoustic guitar--his first ever performance out, according to his lady who joined him on stage for a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl." I stole glances at J's profile in the dim light, knowing the moment/the night would be over before I was ready, knowing I would lock away little images of his smile in the half light to remember after departure. I wanted our drive back home to last forever.

He left very early this morning. I will see him again in six days, but even that reads like a light year. With each visit and with each month we inch closer to a life we can live together. Maybe this is a touch too personal for this particular sharing space, but he is on my mind and sometimes my heart shoves the rest of me aside and does the typing. I have written about the tough nature of long distance before--it is an experience of many, many lessons. There are days when we get one phone call and the call might be cut short by work or fatigue, or we might miss each other completely due to time difference and schedules. Sometimes talking on the phone is painful simply because nothing can solve the woe but being held. For some things there are no words. This is why I am thankful for his return to lay his grandmother to rest. I needed the ability to sit next to him, to hold his hand through the service. Just as I needed the long car ride to Clifton and that tiny moment in the sort-of-dark, memorizing the outline of his face.

Until next Wednesday my heart will be restless, a clattering against the ribs. Soon, soon, soon.

Monday, September 22, 2014

still, the light

I leave for Egypt in 8 days. This will be my third trip, and that doesn't even read right when I type it--third trip?! Wow. Despite a first and second(including Ramadan) under my belt, I am still fascinated and nervous.The nerves are all travel related--possibilities ranging from delayed flights to migraines(even though I've already experienced both). The obnoxious stench of a hundred perfumes courtesy Charles DeGaulle airport lodged in the nostril, the bleary eyes of time zones. I know quite well the path from here to there.

However! This trip boasts a few(big) differences. I'm staying for a month, my longest stretch yet. J and I are taking a couple trips--the first to Luxor to play a bit of tourist. Valley of the Kings(home of King Tut's tomb), Valley of Queens, Temple of Karnak, and Avenue of the Sphinxes(my personal favorite, at least in researching thus far).

This avenue originally included 1,350 sphinxes, half of which have been uncovered thus far

A balloon ride is also recommended when visiting Luxor, to see the Nile and the ruins from above. J asked me if I'm at all interested, and I answered yes, though a meltdown of some proportion will most likely be involved.

J and I are also going to Dubai. It's a potential future-home so visiting is a must. I've been taking in great big gulps of information on the place. Thank goodness for expat forums. I'm curious to visit and form my own "initial" opinion. It will be hard to conclude too much after only five days, but that first impression is important. I worry that I'm a bit too scruffy for it. There are bits that seem futuristic and more glamorous, as well as things I could dive right into(the cycling community for example--there's a Dubai roadster group that rides together every Friday, as well as cycling days at the autodrome). I'm curious about both little and large things--how are the grocery stores and pharmacies, what kind of job will I get, driving, how might a living room look. If I live there, will I make friends easily? And of most importance: what will my writing community be like?

I have a lot of questions/curiosities, and I'm sure that will only grow once I'm finally there, in person.

Other things...I miss my writing community in Pittsburgh quite fiercely. This struck me recently, when I realized how little I've been writing this past month. My recent failure to create stems from a sadness that has emerged, something that surprised me. Darkness crept in and has been distracting me, unfortunately. I am trying not to sink into it by asking for help, even though asking is difficult, especially after being so hellbent and determined to leave my medication behind and give things a go. I can't really say I regret it--at least I know that I might in fact need a little help, and that's alright as long as I go after it. No more of this sinking into the blue as if I don't have all these amazing things occurring in my life. Despite the dark, there is still so much light. Bottom line: I am a work in progress. I am finding my peace.

To heal I will love and write, for these two things nurture me most.