Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maybe - 9/16/2010

Maybe it was the nine hours prior in which I hadn’t bent my knees at anything less or more than a 90 degree angle; Maybe it was because of a pre-existing geographical disgust based on a baseball rivalry; Maybe I was smelling that abhorrent and seemingly deserved Jersey reputation; Maybe it was a remembrance of the nostalgic Italians I had recently left compared to the Ed Hardy Italian-Americans I would now be forced to tolerate; Maybe it was because our luggage burdened me like a Columbian coffee mule; Maybe it was because I had to pee and the bathrooms were dirtier than an autostrade rest area; Maybe it was because I could have floated onto American shores on a rotting tire in less time than it took me to enter my home country legally; Maybe it was because the woman under the “Help Center” sign proved it wrong; Maybe it was the apocalyptic ashen sky that whirled into a flash-tornado, side winding through the cars in Queens like they were Kansas prairie dogs; Maybe it was the Information Officer at the Port Authority, who was neither an officer nor informational in any way, except to the person on the other end of his cell phone who was getting his full attention rather than the confused customers; Maybe it was the New Yorker who told us to get on the wrong bus; Or maybe it was the bus driver who told us we had taken the wrong bus, only after he gave us attitude while unloading our bags at a random street corner stop; Maybe it was standing in the rain at a run down gas station waiting 40 minutes for the hotel shuttle to save us, after they told us they’d be there in 10; Maybe it was landing at 3:30pm at JFK Airport in New York and arriving in Northern New Jersey, not twenty miles away, SIX HOURS LATER; Maybe it was the enraging fact that I had just come from a continent where in LESS than six hours, I was able to travel from Paris to Switzerland, through two countries, with three train changes in two languages I do not speak and I had zero problems, screw ups or even a flicker of agitation; Maybe it was the dread-filled lurch in my gut when I turned my cell phone on for the first time in three weeks; Maybe it was the lack of fig trees, Mediterranean breeze and people that smiled when they said, “bongiorno”; Maybe it was the onset of jetlag; Maybe it was the looming reality check; Maybe it was gas; Maybe it was just me.

Whatever it was, I was nauseated; I was exhausted. 

I closed the hotel curtains, shutting out the abutting tangle of New Jersey highways. I climbed into the plush king bed, Danielle already snoring.

For three weeks people tried, knowingly or unwittingly, to convince me of Europe’s superiority; Superiority not in world power but in grandeur, tradition, food, wine, women, family, hospitality, scenery, life.

Maybe they were right.

But maybe - I thought laying in bed staring up at the plaster ceiling of our modern and immaculate hotel room - just maybe, after everything that symbolized what America is and is not, what America has and has not, lurking on the edge of our fresh European afterglow, I was glad to be home.

Danielle rustled, nestling her head in the crook of my arm.

Maybe, I thought. And there was a smile on my face as I fell asleep in America.