Yesterday marked three weeks of my return to California, three busy weeks.
And this weekend’s quick trip to the desert, home, made me realize that I am fortunate to call many beautiful landscapes by this name. Most of my stories originate in these settings and with characters that I owe nearly everything for the fantastic plots they deliver.
In fact, my sister (an employee of a department store) and my mother (a kitchen designer for a home improvement store) and my nephew (a seven-year-old super hero) filled my ears with a semester’s worth of material, including: a co-worker’s overly-detailed confession to loss prevention as he thought he was interviewing for a management position, a vivid portrait of the man who now wears my deceased father’s jeans, and a dramatic account of how a billboard had a lot of eyes.
I don’t need to invent anything.
This bilingual “advertisement” is featured in the Sacramento airport.
On our way to the airport last night, we went (with my mother, sister, brother-in-law, and little nephew) to Goody’s Cafe. Goody’s inhabits an old Weinersnitchel store front. The exhaustive menu includes an all-day breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, Mexican food, and on and on. Overwhelmed by both the breadth of the menu as well as the ginormous portions, I listened in awe as one man ordered two Heart Attack meals. One heart attack includes: 1/2 pound double cheeseburger, chili, avocado, bacon, pastrami, and all of the fixings. The burger arrives with twenty (or more) onion rings and a tub of thicker-than-normal ranch dressing.
This food extravaganza got me thinking about a sign I’d seen earlier in the week offering those who pound a pound of pastrami at the local sandwich shop a hat (advertising the shop and the food feat).
Nearly every day in Oaxaca I found things to add to my list titled: Things that would never happen in the US.
Competitive eating is something for my new list: Things that would never happen in Oaxaca.
Saturday morning, I headed out of bed at 3:45 a.m. I headed out to the freezing garage to put food out for the cats, Vera and Glenn, despite their confused eyes that demanded: Why are we up so early? By 4:12, after showering, I realized the clock itself might be a good photo for the blog.
At 5:30, I would take a tiny airplane for a short flight to San Francisco. After waiting two hours there, I would be headed to Palm Springs. The first plane was so minuscule and loud I couldn’t even consider sleeping. The man across the aisle, however, must sleep on top of a spinning washing machine. His snoring was even louder than the roar of the engines and the squeaking balloon sounds the plane made upon takeoff and landing.
As I was sitting in the SF airport, I realized I hadn’t flown into Palm Springs airport since I was a senior in high school returning home from the national science fair in Westpoint, NY. And, that is still the last time I landed there — despite my United Airlines ticket.
M was already in the desert and at the airport watching my flight which he could track on an app when our captain announced that we could not land due to poor cloud conditions. Part of M worried that maybe we’d been hijacked or something worse.
Instead, we headed through the pass and to Ontario airport where we could wait for cloud conditions to improve, or a bus. Or — mom and M headed into Ontario to fetch me. Hungry and super tired, I would finally arrive in the desert by 1.
It would’ve been faster to drive.
I remember when the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, in CA, invested in a herd (fifty) of life-size fiberglass elk statues and installed them, decorated and named by local artists, in front of businesses and other public places: http://www.elkgrovecity.org/arts/artwork-06-medical-elk.asp.
The Mexico City Airport seems to be using the same concept for a series of heads that they have installed since December.
I saw two of these heads as I was scrambling for my flight to Las Vegas. And, I was thrilled to see art in this usually dark and boring shopping center. There is plenty of room for even more color here.
Mexico City is so full of museums and art, it is good to see the airport reflecting a sliver of this part of the culture.
This Sunday afternoon’s soothing sun reminded me that I have been home two cold, dry weeks.
Oaxaca is 81 degrees today. A couple of mornings we had temps in the high twenties.
Most of the kids in my English class in Tlacochahuaya did not know what I was talking about when I said that people in cold climes could see their own warm breath in the chilly air before them. This idea was even more foreign than snow (or home heating and air).
My breath blossoming before me this morning, my windshield and lawn iced over, I wished that my students were here to see these wonders.
So, yes, we were in First Class and we officially arrived home only twelve hours later than we were originally scheduled to, but it was a long and somewhat ridiculous trip.
In fact, the man I was sitting next to on the flight from Las Vegas to Houston kept saying that he was sorry we had such a ridiculous itinerary. As incredulous as we had been in the airport, he kept asking me to repeat it.
Oaxaca to Mexico City to Las Vegas to Houston to Sacramento.
A four-hour nap between two rows of blue chairs in the Houston airport (from almost five to nine in the morning) didn’t help as much as one might think.
Oaxaca and Mexico City are in the same time zone as Houston; Las Vegas is in the same zone as Sacramento (two hours later), so in addition to scrambling from plane to plane and gate to gate, we also needed to keep track of what time it really was.