Sunday, July 19, 2009

Independence Day

Hey, baby, it's the Fourth of July.

That's a song. By X. It's the only song I know that is about this particular holiday, and I was a fan of X, so it runs through my head on Independence Day.

I go to ridiculous lengths to avoid holidays, traditional family-and-friends days. My life has been amazing for many years... I've been on and off the road since 2001 and have only been seriously trying to reintegrate for a year. The downside of living that way is that you lose your community, become a self-contained independent unit, and disconnect from the reality most people know. The distressing self-worth blow of rejection mixes it up a bit too. Things would be much easier if triumphant returns didn't come with metaphorical hangovers.

Or I could just keep going indefinitely. But I've tried that. It's doesn't work either. No way out but through it.

This July 4th, I caught a bus from my Paris hotel to the Gare du Nord. I'd spotted the bus last night, right in front of my hotel, and thought "Ah, a way to avoid the long walks underground on the metro."

The bus took me right through the courtyard in front of the Louvre and up to the train station.

I was feeling pretty smug until I got to the ticket machines and discovered they were all mysteriously broken. I waited in line to learn that there was some kind of unexpected strike.

"Should have taken the airport bus," I groused.

I stood on the hot platform with hundreds of other would-be passengers. The trains were not air-conditioned and today was a scorcher. About ten percent of the crowd was en route to an anime convention, decked out in cutesy skirts and bear or bunny ears.

Eventually, I got to the airport. I'd carefully wrapped my Moroccan souvenirs in bubble wrap and watched as my bag went off on the conveyer belt.

Fingers crossed.

Later that night, I disembarked at Washington's Dulles Airport. The deal with my frequent flyer ticket had been that I had to fly back to Washington DC. I watched, wincing as the baggage transfer guy bounced my bag on the floor. Ouch, there goes a plate.

Normally, I'd have caught the $20 bus home from Washington DC. But not on July 4th. Me+luggage+Metro+cops+a hundred thousand revelers=not real comfy. I boarded an $89 shuttle plane for JFK. I'd arrive late enough to miss the fireworks, the fun, and even the crowds as they cheered and partied on the A train.

And that's all right with me.

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