The Nostalgic Tourist

Published March 29, 2006

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs
   and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

Someday, someone is going ask me how I got the notion in my head to get on this plane and take this very nostalgic trip, and I'll quote 'A Day In The Life' by the Beatles and say, "Somebody spoke and I went into a dream." Maybe it was work. Maybe it was my partner's cell-phone habits. Maybe it was the Blimpie that sent me over the edge. Whatever it was, I'm flying westward at 30,000 feet, and I feel really good for the first time in weeks. I feel really content. OK, maybe it's the two glasses of red wine I was served about an hour ago. Or maybe it's the fact I'm finally doing something that matters to me. I'm not promoting candy bars today. I'm promoting me, and no matter what happens, this will be a good chapter in the story of my life. A day in the life of Phil Brody.

Some people hate to fly. I find it very enjoyable, almost therapeutic. I sleep. I read. I think. I remember. Jane.

The night Jane and I first met, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, talking about life and the world in general. We shared our hopes, our dreams and two bottles of Pinot Grigio. Sitting on her porch stairs, under what few stars the Chicago skies allowed, our lips were getting acquainted. After some time, she expressed, "I could kiss you for hours."

"Four, five hours. Whatever it takes," was my astute reply.

Los Angeles. "Welcome to the land of artificial people and real dreams. Where the sun always shines and the stars are always out." My cab driver actually spouts this dialogue as I slide into his cab. I stare at him and say, "Save it. Do I look like a tourist?" He tells me I look like an ad exec, and we don't say another word to each other the whole ride.

I don't look like an ad exec. I'm not even wearing black today.

Fifteen minutes later, I'm standing on Jane's doorstep. I'm standing on her welcome mat, which reads "WELCOME" in big, bold letters. So why do I feel so uninvited? Why do I suddenly feel so stupid? I give up knocking and turn away from her back door in frustration. "What am I doing here?" I think, staring at the ocean. The romantic adrenaline I somehow carried from O'Hare, across the 1,745 air miles, and all the way to her doorstep, is suddenly draining from my body and my mind. Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a dog running on the beach. It's Jane's dog, Jackson. Then I see Jane. My lack of adrenaline is suddenly replaced with another kind of energy. My non-stop to nostalgia has taken off in a major way.

Then I see Jane turn to speak to someone next to her. She's walking with some guy. "Maybe it's her brother." I remain optimistic. They embrace and then kiss — a very un-brotherly-and-sisterly-like kiss. "So that's how it is in your family," I try to humor myself. It doesn't work.