I recently traveled to Houston, Texas for business. I did not want to go. It takes so much energy to travel against my will. Going was in my best career interest, so of course, I went. I kept a few notes, lest I forget what a great time I had for three whole days.
Notes On Direction: One of the worst things about flying - aside from the fear of falling six miles out of the sky in flames, or the impossibly tiny and odorous airplane toilets - is losing my innate sense of direction. What direction am I facing? I always need to know so I can have confidence to not get lost.
There is no hiding the hayseed trail I leave in the big city, so I do not even try. As I was careening through miles of residential Houston streets in the airport shuttle, literally at high noon, I did my best to get oriented. When I felt certain I knew what direction we were heading, I asked the driver if we were traveling south. "West!" he barked. They must be touchy about their directions in Texas or something.
Once I knew we were heading west, I tried to keep up. It was difficult with the curves and interstates and towering buildings faced at various angles. By the time I got to my hotel room (with a 15th floor view across the city of Houston), I felt I knew what direction I was facing, though.
A plains person always longs for a glimpse of the ocean. I strained my eyes toward the horizon as the plane neared Houston, hoping to catch a distant line of blue water. I did not know if the Gulf was too far to see even if the sky had been clear, but I kept trying, just in case. Maybe I could see a distant bank of clouds and know they were over the ocean.
From my hotel window, I scanned the distance for a tiny indication of the ocean. All Sunday afternoon and evening, I admired the view. I was confident I was looking southeast, toward Galveston and the sea. Even if I could see no sign of the water, I knew it was out there. I could feel it! I admired the slow descent of the sun over Houston all afternoon. The fact that it was setting in the east did not occur to me until the thin slip of moon appeared - the very same moon I had admired the night before as it sank behind the hills due west of my house in Kansas. What a dolt! I was so disappointed that I had a room facing northwest, back toward Ok-la-hom-a.
Notes On Communication: I had planned to purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste at the hotel in Houston. I knew there would be a little gift shop selling a few items of convenience but I did not know it would be CLOSED on Sunday afternoon!
I was also starving by the time I reached the hotel - airlines pretzels and peanuts notwithstanding. I had to eat in the lobby bar, alone, watching an infomercial on the widescreen. I asked the waitress if there was a convenience store or drug store close to the hotel, so I could get a toothbrush, among other things.
She said, "Oooooh, you forgot your toothbrush."
I said, "No, I didn't forget. I just did not want to bother with it through airport security."
She gave me a look, but assured me the hotel had toothbrushes for their guests who forgot their own.
What the hell, I thought. Was everyone in Houston a bunch of jerks?
Later it occurred to me that the waitress did not know I had an electric toothbrush. She must have thought I was daft.
Notes On Craziness:
I have a black knit dress made with spandex, so it is very comfortable to wear and impossible to wrinkle. I look as good in it as I do in anything. Even though it is black, it is surprisingly comfortable to wear in hot weather - perfect to wear on the plane to Houston. The problem is that I have not worn it for about a year because it needed a side seam sewn up. I got up at 4 am Sunday morning so I could mend the seam and wear it on the trip.
I wore that dress to Kansas City International Airport, walking all over, standing in line, bending over to pick up my bags. I wore that dress all over Houston's Hobby international airport. I got in and out of the airport shuttle. I walked all over the hotel lobby, visiting with the concierge and the waitress and the hostess. I wore that same dress Tuesday, visiting with the clerk in the gift shop who was from Ethiopia. I walked by the shoe shine man, exchanging pleasantries with him. I walked around the fourth largest American city for an entire morning wearing that dress.
Back in Kansas, I was late to work on Wednesday morning - jet lag. I threw that dress over my head with a clean shirt and tore off to work. A guy in the meter shop watched as I hurried across the parking lot in a pouring rain wearing that dress. As I finally made it to my desk and flopped down at last in my chair, dripping wet, I saw there was a GAPING hole in the front seam of that dress - which meant I had it on BACKWARDS - - - which meant - - - oh yes, boys and girls - - - the whole time I was wearing that dress in the airports and hotel and on the streets of Houston, Texas, the home of NASA, my ass was showing through that gaping seam. And I was clueless.