I’m home again, safe and sound from my week-long journey to and through America’s heartland, and in doing so I utilized all three modes of transport. I am used to the trials and tribulations of travel nowadays, but I learned a couple of things as well. For instance, having TSA Pre-Check doesn’t really make a difference in small airports or at the crack of dawn; they shuttle everyone through the same line and you go through the same ritual as everyone else. Main Cabin Extra on American Airlines doesn’t give you more legroom; all it does is give you a few minutes ahead of everyone else to find that out. Car rental agents and shuttle drivers are friendly and helpful even late at night (or early in the morning, depending on your point of view), and it seems that no matter where you go in America, there’s always a good local place for a great cup of coffee; check out the Coffee Zone in Columbia, Missouri.
I also learned that it is possible to over-pack and even if you plan very carefully, you come back with an increased volume of clothing than what you had when you left. I didn’t need seven shirts, four pairs of pants, and my blazer, and even if I had, I could have saved some space for the two books that I picked up at the conference.
I also ran the gamut of emotions reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I had dinner with a former camper of mine and his wife. I first met him when he was twelve, and now he’s hit the mid-century mark and has a great career and family. He told me that I had been and still was a very important part of his formative years, which is both gratifying to hear and reminds me of the tremendous impact a friendship can have. (And he is still as buff as he was when we worked out at the CU Rec Center thirty years ago.) I reconnected with people who were an important part of my theatre scholarship life, including one of the men who was the focus of my doctoral dissertation. He greeted me with a hug and reaffirmed many of the things I’d learned about theatre in general… and about being a good human being. I made new friends and felt like I’d known them for years after just sharing lunch, and also discovered that when you think you know everything about something, you’re just beginning to hear the whole story.
I also cherished the time — all too brief — with my parents.
The next-to-last leg of the journey was on Miami MetroRail from the airport to Dadeland South. That’s the mode of transport I use to commute to work, a ritual I will recommence in a little while. It was, I suppose, a way to ease my way back into my normal routine, at least for the next ten days until I once again venture out into the heartland to learn more about people, life, theatre, and how to pack a carry-on.