I’ve always loved airports. Many of the standard airport procedures that make people nervous give me a sense of calm and purpose– the purpose of moving. In an airport, you are leaving somewhere and starting in another place. Airports are Limbo. They are the place where you can think about where you came from and also where you are going. They represent a fresh start to somewhere. They are a portal to where I want to be, whether that is in a new place and new friends or old haunts among dearly loved people who I am returning back to. I have felt some of my happiest and most peaceful moments within the walls of the airport among the rushing businesspeople, screaming children, and panicked travelers grabbing their heads in despair as the security officers confiscate their favorite lotion and throw it nonchalantly into the trash. It’s three fluid ounces, people.
My trip home for Christmas, from Berlin to Nebraska, was everything opposite of what I have just described in the first paragraph. It was the kind of trip that makes even the most comfortable traveler think for a second about giving up travel forever. Without getting into it, because that is not what this blog is about, I am two days late to get home, I was detained at UK immigration, I had to evacuate the terminal because the fire alarm went off right before boarding, and when we finally did get back in and onto the plane we were delayed by another 2 hours just sitting on the runway, and lastly, but certainly not least, my German sausages I had brought home to share with my family were confiscated and thrown, like the lotion, nonchalantly into the trash.
I am home. And even while swearing to myself never to travel during the Christmas season, as I got into the car and left the Rocky Mountains behind me on the Western horizon, I knew that I would do it again, because there is nothing like the feeling of returning home. As I whizzed by the familiar signs, Julesburg (halfway home), NEBRASKA, “The Good Life” (Hell yes it is!), and finally turning off at North Platte and driving the last stretch, the best stretch, I felt the rest of the anger and frustration and problems the travel snafus had caused leave me somewhere before Highway 92. From there on, I felt free.
The sun shined down on the rubble of the cornfields, golden snapped stalks and ruffage sticking up through patches of snow. Black angus steers, furry now with their winter coats, nosed through the leftovers and huddled together for warmth. The bright green hills I had left in July had faded to yellow and a dusting of snow coated them and accentuated the canyons running down to lower land. I was the only car on the road for miles.
Finally turning into my driveway, I sighed with relief. I had made it. I parked the car and walked into my house. The familiar Christmas decorations were up: huge red pointsettas bursting out of brightly wrapped pots, several interpretations of the manger scattered throughout the living room, and of course, the most perfect cedar tree twinkling with lights and covered in years of carefully collected ornaments. Alone for a few moments, I walked in and sat looking at the tree. I would do it all again, I said to myself. Yes, I would do it all again.
Now as I write this from my childhood bed, I wish you all the peace and comfort of being in your homes among the people you love for the holidays. A very merry Christmas to all of you!