The time doesn’t seem right but it is. Set watch back six hours an hour & a half ago, so it went from 2:30 pm to 8:30 am. This flight has been alive for about three hours. Left at 12:50 pm.
Emily’s flight left about one-half hour after mine. I gave her a hug and told her that I had a great time on our trip. The notebook can testify to that. Ups and downs, sure—but I am sad that it has come to an end. Of course, I look back and everything that we did feels like it was packed into an instant and that little time has passed since I left. Cliché I guess, but time seems to work like that.
In another twelve hours I’ll be in my apartment having wine with Brook and the blunt agony of flying will not seem real to me at all; I’ll just be happy with the present in which I exist because, at any one time that’s all that there is: the present.
The movie was The Shipping News, which I did not watch; then it was an episode of “Spin City,” which I didn’t watch. There was a VFW commercial rolling out footage of WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, each with a set of dates—beginning, ending—and then of course a war on terrorism that had a beginning date but no ending. Now is another installment of Fox News International (oxy moron there) documenting more WAR HEROES for everyone to stare at.
Didn’t sleep well last night. It was noisy around midnight when I got into bed & would slip into stage 1 or stage 2 sleep, characterized by nonsensical but original & interesting daydreaming. Did that for about an hour. Em was tossing & turning.
Now on is ESPN and a World’s Strongest Man competition.
Woke up at I didn’t know what time (I thought, I hoped it was around 6:50 am or so); went to bathroom, came back in. Emily waked and asked me what time it was; I found my watch on the table, surprised & disappointed to read the dial. It’s four-twenty a.m.,” I told her. And she goes, “Ah-hah-hah-hah….” So I went back to sleep. Until 6:30a. Then until 7:10a or so when her alarm went off. She said, “There you go, John.” So maybe she knew I was ready to get home.
What gave it away? Maybe it was yesterday walking toward our future hotel when I said, “God I can’t wait to get back out of this hell-hole.” I had been looking forward to a return to Amsterdam but when we got there I realized I wanted to be home as much as anywhere else. What will I say when people ask me how I liked the trip?
I’ll say it was up & down. A man asking me security questions at the gate in Schiphol pre-boarding asked me where I had gone on the trip. Two nights in Amsterdam, nine in Germany. “Germany?” he said. “Were the German people friendly?”
“Yes, everything went pretty well.”
“I think so, too. Some people here don’t think so. There’s a little rivalry between the Dutch & Germans. Where are you coming from?”
“Ahh…how’d you like Amsterdam?”
“I liked it.”
“Planning on coming back?”
“Ahh…maybe to the Netherlands again but I don’t know about Amsterdam.”
“Yeah, you should see the rest of Holland. But you liked it in Amsterdam?”
“You know what they say here: if it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much.”
“Are you carrying any electrical or battery-operated items with you?”
“Ahh….” (I couldn’t think of any.) “No.”
“No? How about a camera? Oh, ah—well, it’s in my bag that I checked.”
“Aha—ehh! OK, a camera, anything else? A shaver, a cellphone?”
“Who packed your items?”
“Are you carrying anything that anyone gave to you?”
“Since you packed the items who has been in possession of them?”
“At all times?”
“OK, thank you; have a safe trip.”
“OK, thank you.”
He was a nice guy & I wish I could’ve responded better to the “If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much,” ‘cause it’s kind of funny.
Breakfast was at Restaurant Kabul. Bread w/ butter, jam. Egg. One bit of a ham & cheese sandwich. We got ham & cheese croissants later, at the airport. Emily bought some Euros chocolate as a gift for co-workers. I bought a small notebook for Ray. All of this, including the assorted coins I gave Em, completely drained me of Euro—except the 1€ coin which I intend to slip to Brook at some point.
Flight has been OK so far. Pasta entrée, bread & butter, shortbread fingers for dessert. Had a scotch/rocks (black label Johnny Walker) which I don’t recommend. Spent bulk of time previous to this reading Richard Brautigan, which I am enjoying.
[7:00 p EST]
Waiting in Philadelphia airport for flight to St. Louis. Flight got in here at 2:40 p or something and by that time I was ready to get off of the plane but passing time by talking to my seat C & Seat D neighbors on the flight, Anne Marie in the seat right next to me and Melanie to the left of her. We went through about 85% of the flight without talking but we all three had in common that at some point in the flight we added something in a personal notebook or journal that we carried with us. I had sneaked a peek over at what they were working on. Anne Marie had drawings, but also what looked like a flight itinerary cropped & taped into the first few pages of her book. [7:05 p] Melanie had out some colored pencils and was working on a drawing of what looked to be a drawing of a figure wearing a Dr. Seuss-type hat. Not bad.
But I waited a good while. When I knew that I had to act sooner or never, I seized upon Anne Marie having just gotten our her book to check the itinerary, presumably to double-check the info on her connecting flight. So I was like, “What kind of stuff do you put in your notebook?” And she was like, “What’s that?” And I said, “Oh, I mean, I was just wondering what kind of things you used your notebook for; it looked pretty interesting.” She had put it away but actually got it back out and showed me what was in it. “Drawings and stuff…this is our flight information.”
I’m not going to be able to break down much of the dialogue because right now my brain is like the big wad of cheap gum you’ve been chewing on for two hours: hard, tasteless, done for. Amsterdam time right now is 1:15 am. The flight to St. Louis is going to be delayed and if we leave the runway before 8:15p I’d be fucking shocked.
By the time Anne-Marie & Melanie got onto their flight to Chicago O’Hare we had gotten pretty comfortable w/ each other. Anne Marie has a bachelors in Art, had sneaked a peek at my handwriting when I wrote in my journal on the plane. She told me I had “small handwriting.” The big ice-breaker was Anne Marie showing me her drawings, of things from the trip. They had gone to Amsterdam for nine days or so; and had gone to a friend’s wedding in Austria (near Munich) for a few days. Melanie let me have a look at her book. She just reached into her bag & got it out for me, totally unsolicited. So I could look through it at my own pace, Melanie an arm’s length away. Her work was rather impressive actually. An ink b/w drawing of a friend “who thought the world was about to end” and in the drawing, off into the distance over his left shoulder, was an hourglass. Melanie also had scraps in her book: a bus ticket, a photo she bought of an old German couple at a Dutch flea market, God I cannot even remember what else right now—I’m bushed.
I was impressed w/ the work of both of them. We, oh, Melanie had a flyer from Conscious Dreams in her scraps & I was like, “Oh, I was there.” And Melanie was like, “What were you doing there?” And I said, “Oh…I didn’t buy anything.” Did they partake in any of the specialties of Amsterdam? “Yeah, the usual….”
Well, we cut the cat & mouse kosher drug talk after awhile & when we were sitting on the floor of the airport waiting for their delayed flight finally to board they said they both had done acid; Melanie coke twice; Anne Marie has a more regular pot vice but Melanie speaks for all of us when she says she doesn’t fuck with all that chemical club drug stuff: E, coke, crystal meth, Special K. Melanie likes to do a one-hitter before she paints because she can definitely “tunnel” and focus better “on that stuff.”
We talked about how we actually prefer to do it on our lonesome. She had brought some salvia back w/ her & I told her about my limited, actually not so successful experience with it. She’s still excited about it a bit. When we got off the plane we went through customs all together & then, since our flights were then taking off in side-by-side gates in the same concourse, we grabbed a drink together, at Jet Rock Bar & Grill. That ended up being a meal; I had a burger, fries, Yuengling. Mmm. Hot waitresses in skimpy clothes.
Before the flight ended I gave them the Hierophany e-mail address & said, “If you want, mail me an address & I’ll send you a copy of Hierophany.”
A little light out on the western horizon is an uplifting sight. The coffee I had about ten minutes ago has helped, too. Was trying to get some shut-eye but it was a lost cause. I was far too optimistic about our departure time. I had said if we got underway by 8:15p EST I’d be fucking shocked. We boarded around 7:45 pm—flight scheduled to depart at 7:40 pm EST—but we didn’t take off until 9:05 EST. I drifted off for a moment on the runway, while we were trapped in this queue of about 15 planes lining up for takeoff, and when I woke up it felt like I had been out for an hour, though only a minute or two could have passed.
Lady in my row, #9, is coming back to STL from a wedding in New York. She doesn’t like St. Louis, but she’s stationed here for work. She said, on account of my long legs, I should try getting an exit row seat when I fly, so I “don’t have to look like a spider when I’m getting out of (my) seat.” Somehow this image really works for me & I’m thanking her for it by not turning on my overhead light during the flight; but my eyes are hurting. She is all covered in a black blanket, & over her knees, her leather jacket. She’s from New York & has on pink toe & fingernail polish. She was in the wedding and didn’t realize how much the people in the wedding actually drank. She ordered tomato juice when they offered us drinks, “the whole can,” yes on the ice, “and with some lemon if you have it.” She was very thankful. We got an extra little bag of Rold Golds.
I see lightning on the horizon now and all around me a surprising number of people have their overheads on. The guy next to me has a calculator out. The person in front of him is reading Business Week. This is US Airways Flight 776 from Philadelphia to St. Louis.