Now back in China, I forget all about the aggravation of travel. I forget how hard all of those miles can be on a body. I forget the stress of whirlwind visits, constant socializing, and wondering whose bed/couch/floor I'm sleeping on. As the old song says: “So it's the laughter / we will remember...”
The Way We Were, most notably sung by Barbra Streisand. A great song, and the yearbook theme to my only year in an American high school.
Homecoming was everything such an event should be. Tearful reunions at Wuhan's Tianhe airport, met by friends Sam and David. Chatter, gossip, sharing pictures before even making it home. Sam had thoughtfully packed a thermos of coffee and cups. We enjoyed a steaming brew on the way. After he and David left: dizzy, disoriented, jet lagged. I ran around my house – MY house! My couch, my kitchen, my bed! It was all I could do to shower before falling in said bed...
… And waking up around 2:00 AM, wondering whose house I'm in and whose bed I'm occupying. Fortunately, I only did that for the first 2 nights back. After that, I was able to sleep through.
So now, the semester started and the suitcase once again stowed, I think back to the laughter that found me on this trip.
On the flight to Portland, seated next to a charming but nervous young lady. How did I know she was nervous? Because I had the aisle seat, and she had to keep asking me to get up so she could prowl around. Later, she confessed she'd not had much experience flying and was indeed quite nervous. Her ears didn't act right, her stomach felt like it was on a maniacal express elevator, rushing up then plummeting down. Her nausea is what caused her to constantly head to the bathroom. Poor dear felt her breakfast would soon revisit!
Being older, wiser and a more seasoned traveler, I felt I should advise her. I looked at her earnestly and said “If you're feeling like throwing up, simply turn to your left.”
Apparently she'd never heard that advice before, and wondered if it was some sort of holistic remedy for nausea and/or vertigo.
“No,” I assured her. “I'd just rather you threw up on the guy next to you than on me.”
Mid-laughter, a flight attendant keyed the mike for an announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are approaching Sea-Tac International airport. I'd like to remind you that the terminal is under construction, so you might encounter some detours and delays. If you are making a connecting flight out of Sea-Tac, there is a board with departing flight information just outside the jetway. Simply turn to your left...”
Kim looked at me, I looked at Kim, and we both dissolved into laughter at hearing the 'turn left' advice twice in as many minutes.
I took this picture outside of Logan's Roadhouse, the restaurant where we celebrated my son-in-law's birthday. You'll note the sign says: 'Biker Parking Only – all others will be towed'. I'm fairly certain they didn't mean bikers should park themselves on the bench inside the restaurant because the sign was outside, facing a motorcycle parking area. Nonetheless, by sheer coincidence, there happened to be a biker, 'parked' on the bench, in close proximity to the sign and visible through the large window. To add to the hilarity, the sign was in 'Harley Davidson' colors – orange and black, and the man was wearing a Harley Davidson jacket! I couldn't resist snapping the picture, and then showed it to the biker, who uttered such a belly laugh that all of his chins shook!
This falls under the heading of 'Strange Things You See Totally By Accident on a Bus, at 5:45AM'. Take a close look at that picture: doesn't it look like there is a bird on a perch? It took me a few minutes to realize that it was actually the bus' rear view mirror and mounting bracket, in shadow. That's what a foggy mind will do, early in the morning: see birds where there are none.
Usually, I'm very good about unplugging everything before I leave for an extended period. This time, I happened to have overlooked my hair dryer. Being as I seldom use it and it hardly works half the time anyway, I never gave any thought to it being plugged in.
Apparently, it had switched itself on, sometime while I was away. Sam, doing his usual 'Sophia is coming home' inspection of my apartment prior to my arrival, noted a whirring sound as soon as he stepped inside. He followed it to the bathroom and soon found the appliance churning out hot air. Who knows for how long? No doubt cursing my carelessness, he unplugged the gizmo. Everything else was in order, so he left my house, anticipating my imminent arrival.
Yes, it was a joyful reunion, but Sam couldn't resist gently chiding me about having left my hair dryer on.
I thought he was joking until I got home and saw: A. the scorched cable. B. the charred stain on the wall. C. the cracked mirror. Apparently because the dryer was aimed at the mirror and that particular section of glass had the benefit of warmth, once it started cooling down, the change in temperature was more than the pane could manage in my freezing bathroom. It did what any other glass would do: crack.
No harm done: maintenance will replace the mirror and I don't believe in the superstition that says breaking a mirror will bring 7 years bad luck. In fact, this may well have been a lucky break – pun intended. I've asked maintenance to hang the new mirror to 'foreigner height' so that I can see my hair without having to scrunch down.
Even more remarkable: the hair dryer still works!
Why don't I just trip the main breaker before leaving, you ask? Because I still have food in my freezer that I'd like to preserve...
… unlike the first year I lived here, and Sam was doing his 'pre-Sophia-arrival' inspection, only to find that the main breaker had tripped under load. All the food I had in the freezer was spoiled. Poor Sam! He threw it all out, thus sparing me from having to do it. He said the stench was terrible!