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Saturday, May 7, 2022

I felt like Odysseus.

My trip to see Clare graduate, paid for entirely by my ex-wife, has been a series of obstacles. Certainly not like the Ithacan king of yore, also known as Ulysses. 

Friday night as I geared up for the trip packing maybe six items, I found I had lost my Debit card  -- that's where my money lay but only in a spare and barren place where currency has not taken root.

Imagine tearing up an apartment that's already torn up from a second unpacking in at least a year. I walked through my steps during the day. Then after five hours I realized how much money I had on the card. Where did I determine that? Ah! Walgreens, where I was picking up cold medication because for some reason whenever I make a trip, I get a cold. 

I checked out the route days earlier but when I clicked into Google Maps this morning, I asked for directions to "Minneapolis airport." Google Maps has lost most of its snarky commentary so it did not note the airport is a sprawling place. Of course I ended up in some back alley where deliveries of myriad  goods are made. I imagine it's the place where my friend Mickey Modl and I once picked  up a body for the funeral home where he worked. We didn't lock the car in Hudson, Wis., on return because we figured any thief deserved what he wrought.

That means I missed my first flight but American Airlines, which offered excellent service throughout my trip, rebooked me to fly through O'Hare to Boston. (By the way the names of those two cities are not pronounced the same manner as the rest of the country. The rest of us don't add extra syllables.)

I haven't travelled via airplane since 2010 when I was flown gratis to Los Angeles to be part of an exercise in investigative health care reporting. I was roomed in room 666, a bad omen. Nothing happened although there was some pig blood running down walls. No big deal. In the Wisconsin Nort'woods, we make blood sausage out of such a thing. 

I was no longer used to the stutters, shifts and lunging airplanes evidence on takeoff on landing. The only thing that assuaged me was the realization is that is how I walk by about 9 p.m.

Almost every night.

My connection in O'Hare -- bigger than most countries -- was wrong but fixed and I landed on a windy night in Boston with a thud.

And an appreciation that after the last three years, that difficulties aren't the end, but only obstacles to overcome.

Then there was the cab driver.

He waved me over, with meaty hands and long hair so greasy I could have made French fries in it.

I showed him the address of the hotel.

"Aw, Jesus," he said.

He had opened the trunk of the car and asked if I needed to put my miniscule backpack in it. I said no.

"Aw, Jesus," he said.

At first I thought I my body would be found in Southie, with already fat birds pecking at my body. "I sense a heavy fish fry taste with undertones of Jack Daniels."

But it turned out he said "Jesus" about everything. That was his coping mechanism. His arch enemies were red lights -- that's natural for cab drivers -- the New England Patriots, whom he loves, and young drivers. And his billing system, which he fought with the ferocity of a young Tom Brady.

I made it to my hotel which is so high above my standards I didn't know what to do. Thankfully, my ex-wife had warned them to be aware of a disheveled and confused man who appeared to have walked out from "The Field of Dreams."

"Can I play me some ball?"

Needing a cheap place to eat, the Albanian bartender, Gizeem, told me to go to 4th Street which sits kitty corner from the hotel.

I write from here where I'm having a couple drinks before eating what appears to be an excellent cheeseburger. I texted Clare about my location and she responded "4th Street is lit." As a lifelong editor, I responded "4th Street is lighted."

The bartender asked what I needed. I said, a Jack Daniels Manhattan, a couple extra bar napkins and emotional support.

She failed to give the latter so I pointed that out and she asked what I needed.

I said I needed her to pat my hand and say, "You're going OK, fatty."

Without hesitation, she patted my hand and said, "You're doing OK.

What a trip thus far.

I might not be Odysseus but I'd certainly go through anything to be at kid's graduation.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and joy unto you my brothers and sisters.


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