Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Home again, home again


It's never good when the day starts at 4:45 a.m. as you flail at the squawking alarm clock while your no longer sleeping wife gets steadily more pissed. 4:45 a.m. seemed so reasonable, so manageable at 11:30 p.m. It was more than 5 hours away!

Now, an early morning flight to the Midwest later, I'm on my way home again, somewhere over Colorado or New Mexico, en route to LAX. It's an Octopus first - blogging from the stratosphere. Somehow, I don't have the energy to get too excited.

What I want, what I really, truly need, is a fucking break.

But I won't slip into that self-pitying trope again. It appears to be raining all across our great nation this evening. I left pre-dawn drizzle in L.A. and landed in midday drizzle in the Midwest. Everything is ending now. The sunshine is fading, October is slipping quickly out of reach, and the year is almost gone. This is like the Sunday evening of the year.

I had so many plans and good intentions, so many fantastic new projects that would change everything for the better. Now it's too late again, and I start to suspect that this is how life slides by.

Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California.

After eating dinner alone at the airport Starbucks this evening, I walked through the terminal in my ridiculous get-up (suit, tie, long gray wool overcoat), pulling a black rolling litigation bag behind me, feeling very lost. I caught a few little kids looking at me and I tried to imagine how they might pity me or wonder what strange, hopeless errand I was on.

What had I become? Who was I, in the silly overcoat my dad might wear, dragging my key documents behind me as the chicken pesto baguette from Starbucks digested inside me? I was a hideous, artifical, fake construction, inside and out. Everything I said, everything I did, everything I wore was working to empty out my soul like a kid scooping out the insides of a jack 'o lantern.

I think I slipped back into the self pity there.

It's my own fault. This is what I chose to become, for reasons that must've seemed sound at one point.

My taxi driver to the airport this evening was named Bashear. His family was from Guinea, but he was born in Bordeaux. He had a pretty heavy French accent. He said he didn't miss France at all. In America, we had freedom, he said, taking his hands off the wheel and gesturing expansively across the Missouri interstate. Back in France, the police would constantly ask him for "his papers", even though he was French. He would often refuse to provide any papers, on principle. His grandfather had come down to the station once and cursed out the police. His grandfather was from Guinea but had fought for the French in WWII.

He asked me if I was from India. I told him my parents were from Bangladesh. He said that was basically the same thing as India (I agreed) and that it was a shame that India had been broken up into so many parts. That's not at all what Gandhi wanted, he noted. He said if India had "listened to Gandhi," it would now be the most powerful country in the world. But they didn't listen to Gandhi -- he was "too classic." But even so, they were still strong, they had "all that computer" -- they weren't scared of China when it came to "computer". I agreed.

There were African leaders who "looked like Gandhi," who tried to keep the Congo united, but no one listened to them either, and the Congo descended into civil war and strife. We discussed the Belgians.

He asked me what I did for a job. I told him. He started reciting some legal terms in French and turned to see if I understood. He said he had gotten a degree in law in France. He wanted to know what he had to do to practice in America. France had a civil law system, but in America we had an "Anglo-Saxon" system. Did I know how he could study for the Missouri bar exam? Could he practice even if he wasn't a citizen? People had told him that he couldn't. I told him he could, but he didn't seem to believe me.

2 comments:

Justin said...

Keep your chin (does an octopus have a chin?) up. You are an excellent writer, which is both a helpful escape from your current hellish days and a skill that allows for alternate career exploration.

ivanomartin said...

Yeah--I'm not sure if I've told you, RC, but your writing is really shimmering these days.