Friday, September 21, 2012

Philadelphia






The business trip to Philadelphia was quite lively.  There's too much, really, to tell, but leaving LA and the rainstorm and the early mornings in the city were the parts I liked the best.

First, I started off with an unexpected vow to myself as I was boarding the plane.  It was inspired by this woman a couple of people ahead of me who was complaining to her husband a few people behind me.  She was just obnoxious and what she was saying is of no import except that it went something like this, "Profanity profanity expletive profanity pejorative expletive."  It was not pleasant.  And I turned to my friend behind me and we were both actually laughing because there is just no reason to be that way ever.  Especially when traveling because, as far as I know, that is when you should be the most prepared for things not to go as planned.  It's almost guaranteed.  And I, for one, find that to be part of the whole joy of traveling.  In any case, I was amused that someone could really be taking it that seriously and proclaimed, quietly, but aloud, "I promise I will never be that way."  So that was settled.

One of the most breathtaking parts of the whole journey was actually leaving LA.  It was sunrise and there was LA below me in its sea of pink.  And there was the ocean, golden and quiet, but brewing.  And there were the mountains in their bright bronze and iridescent glow.  And there was my LA far below, strange home that I never would have envisioned.  And there I felt in my heart a sigh, recalling the journey that led me to that vast place.

During the flight, we hit an extreme bout of turbulence when we were over Colorado, which I was happy about on one level because I would not have known that we were passing over Colorado otherwise.  It happened while I was learning, thanks to the free seat-back magazine, that Port is traditionally pressed by bare feet.  And that the grapes are better macerated when the treaders are dancing.  They're even accompanied by musicians! So making Port becomes a small party.  

So, there I was picturing some old Portuguese villa when the guy sitting behind me got up to stand in the aisle.  I looked over and, the strangest thing, there stood a true and proper friar.  I could be wrong, but I think that's what he was.  And it seemed like he had just stepped out of my old world Portugal vision.  Standing there in the full regalia.  The black draping robe, rosaries hanging from the rope belt slung low at his waist.  I felt like I needed to hail Mary or something.  Hustle and save my own soul really fast.  But I didn't.  I think I'm doing all right.

I can say, however, that when we hit even more extreme turbulence upon our approach to Philadelphia, probably the longest and most severe I've ever experienced, in that moment, surprising even to me, I was comforted by the presence of a holy man at my back.

It was grey and cold when we arrived in Philadelphia, but I was excited for that too, for the gloomy weather, for Philadelphia itself, but also for other things.  Three days on the turf of the founding fathers, the Radisson, expense reports.  Things of that nature.

When we finally settled in, some of my coworkers and I decided to explore a little bit.  We made our way to an Irish pub on that fine evening and about halfway through our pints, it started to rain this insane doomsday rain and we all ran outside and got drenched because that's just not something you get in LA.  Oh, it was amazing, too!  Sheets of warm rain being hurled by the wind off the sides of the buildings.  It took us about one minute to get soaked and we were all laughing and smiling and it really might have been my favorite part of the whole trip.

That and waking up early to go explore the city by myself.  I loved that, too.  Walking around in the chill of the morning with my warm coffee in an old city.  Watching the old brick buildings welcome the sun as it crawled from their rooftops down their sides to the streets.  Those mornings were good for me.  Quiet, pensive interruptions to the long days of meetings.  Which were good too.  It was all just really good.

And then it was all over and I was on the plane again, approaching LA.  No complaining wives, thank god.  But no friars, either, God be with him.  Just me and my happiness. About returning to a place that I have grown to love so much.  But more about being in the world.  And about everything I have done and everything else I get to do.

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