The Nostalgic Tourist

Published March 29, 2006

The car service waiting for us outside of the CandyMoon Corporation whisks us back to the airport. McCartney (you bet I'm Lennon in this little game) yaps to me halfway to the airport about the victorious day, about the 500 percent increase in billings we were awarded, about nothing that remotely interests me at this juncture. He is so excited, he pulls out his cell phone and dials the office to talk to anyone who will listen about the bounty we are hauling back to Chicago. I half expect him to start spouting motivational movie quotes like, "Men, the things we do in life echo on in eternity." He is beside himself. I am beside an idiot. I stare out the car window, until exhaustion takes over my body and I fall asleep.

I dream. Jane. Twin biscuits. Annual revenue of happiness exceeds all expectations by 500 percent. Jane, wrapped in Blimpie wax paper. My idea of a good lunch. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. in order to lean over and kiss the past on the forehead. Carpe Delight. She is the egg-woman. We plan our future. We shake each other naked. Harry and Sally never left the building.

Non-stop to Chicago. My flight out of Newark is delayed. After sitting on the runway for forty minutes, we finally take off. While my plane steadily gains altitude, I begin to think. Lately, I feel like my whole life is being delayed. Impending weather. Mechanical difficulties. Late incoming flight. Ground crew difficulties. Strike negotiations. Delay after delay. The plane finally levels off at 28,000 feet and drinks are served. I am a corporate lemming, and I am going home.

art ohare_gateO'Hare. The airport looks the same as it did this morning. Odd how, without looking at a clock, you can never really tell what time it is in an airport. It always feels the same. This is where I got on this ride over twelve hours ago. It feels the same, except I am anxious to trade my grande-coffee-of-the-day for a very large glass of red wine. Anxious, that is, until I see it. It moved. It's at B-4 now. And suddenly it tastes better than any glass of wine could at this juncture in my life. Non-stop to Los Angeles. Non-stop to nostalgia.

Just then, I realize McCartney is still next to me and is babbling on about sharing a cab into the city. "I'm not going into the city, Mark," I say, already waxing nostalgic. Not going to be in tomorrow, either." "But Phil," he protests, "you'll miss the status meting and the company-wide announcement of our TWINbiscuit victory." "Don't care to be there, Mark. I'm calling in well," I say as we part. I make a beeline to Gate B-4.

I approach the ticket agent, who is making final preparations for the flight's departure.

"Is there room on this flight?"

The ticket agent glances up at me, her friendly-skies smile already in flight.

"Yes, sir. Are you a ticketed passenger?"

"No. But I'd like to purchase a ticket. Non-stop to Los Angeles, please." Non-stop to my Weakness.