Friday, January 1, 2010

Start Spreadin' the News - I'm Leavin' Today....

New York, New York. Why am I so happy to be home? I feel like a stupid American traveler. I am just happy to be back where I can walk to my favorite mussels restaurant (Flex Mussels - 4 blocks), where I can go online and order groceries, where it is actually quiet at night except for the orchestra of pipes, and where I know how to use a public restroom without being locked inside without a light.

Oh, yes, that....suffice it to say that I commend Europe for working to save electricity, but they do it by having lights go off automatically at the most inopportune times, like when I was in a public restroom in the train station with a stainless steel door that self-locked when it shut with no visible handle. There is something entirely disheartening about feeling around for the way to flush in a dark, public bathroom knowing that a handsome family of four is waiting to use it next. Finally, one just gives up on the idea of flushing altogether and begins to work directly on just getting out of the stainless steel cell, feeling around for any kind of handle, knob, lock - or, god forbid, a light switch of some camouflaged design. But, no...no such thing. Just blackness with my hands roving about. Finally, I start pounding on the door, "Ingles, Ingles." No one answered. But, then, they couldn't - the door was locked! Then panic sets in because after 5 - 10 minutes in there, I realized the train I was about to board for Monteserrat was leaving any minute and Lee, Isabelle and Natalie must be going nutty over my absence. We had missed the train one hour before because we were 1 minute late.

Before surrendering into a sobbing puddle on the tile floor, I both pushed on a button and on the door at the same time and it released. I had to apologize to the sad family who had been waiting with small children to use the bathroom. Isabelle stood nearby waving her arms madly (and madly) saying,
"what the .....? The train is ready to leave." I got in my seat and warned them not to say a word to me or I would break down right then and there on the train. Once I regained my composure, I told them the story, which they all seemed to enjoy way more than they should have. Natalie had the good grace to admit it has happened to her, too. So there.

A few days later, time to return to NY, we arrived 3 hours early at the airport, only to discover that really we didn't need to be that early. The heavy duty security was applied AFTER you handed the agent the boarding pass at the gate - ready to get on the plane. In Barcelona, you were then sent down an escalator 2 men and 2 women at a time to be patted down and have every square millimeter of your belongings searched. They made me take the lens cover off my camera and open the viewer on the back. They looked into my lipstick tube. They did this for almost 300 passengers. It took 2 hours and 15 minutes to board everyone, leaving 1.5 hours later than scheduled. But, the pilots just cranked and we got into JFK only 15 minutes late! THe passengers burst into spontaneous applause at touchdown. Rather sweet. Even at JFK, there was only one person ahead of us in the taxi line and it took only 30 minutes to get to our apartment. Like the parting of the Red Sea - there was no traffic in New York! Really easy.

But, after the public bathroom terror, I needed something easy.

Back in America with the Tournament of Roses parade on TV, which makes me feel about 80 years old. My son here with his girlfriend, Jessie, who is really a gem and I am ready to whip up some Juevos Rancheros for all. Happy to be home.

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