Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Seasoned (?) Traveler

Home tonight after two-and-a-half days in El Paso. A seasoned traveler, I'm not. Got the DFW only to discover that my drivers license and debit card were in my blue jeans at home. They settled for a TCU i.d. card, a cedit card, and a health insurance card. Same thing today at the El Paso airport only it was worse--singled out for a mild pat-down because of the metal zipper on my jacket--forgot to take the jacket off and they have the full body scan, which DFW doesn't have yet. Then they announced they'd have to check my luggage--never did find out why, but a polite man rummaged through my small carry-on, passed some kind of cloth-covered wand over all of it, and then said he'd have to re-scan my bag plus two individual items--my metal collapsible walking stick, which I had collapsed and put in the bag and the jar of ceramic bits that are supposed to dry out my hearing aids at night. I had to explain to him what that was. Doesn't anyone else take those things when they travel, of all the hearing challenged people in our world? Finally he asked if I'd like help repacking, and I was tempted to say, "No, you've done a good job of jamming it all back in there," but he was really so polite and so courteous when he wished me a good flight and a good day, that I simply thanked him. And went and had a glass of wine at the airport cafe.
If I'm not a seasoned traveler, I'm not an easy one either. I feel like the little old lady who when taken for her first plane ride and then asked how she liked it said it was fine but she never put her full weight down. I never put my full weight down when I'm away from home. I used to be much more nervous about flying than I am now and I still don't like to fly alone, but I'm pretty much okay on a plane--with some wine. But when the friend in front of me said if the plane crashed, there'd be a whole lot of history teaching jobs in North Texas, I told him it wasn't funny (we had been to the Texas State Historical Society meeting). And in the cafe another history prof managed to tell me that one of the survivors of the Titanic had been inebriated, and he always took that into consideration.
I went to the TSHA meeting to deliver a paper, another thing--not that I'm not good at it (everyone says I am and several people went directly to the exhibits to buy my books where, of course, they weren't available but could be ordered!). But it makes me nervous. Once again though the relaxation of retirement came through, and I really felt better about this paper--very non-scholarly in a highly scholarly atmosphere. At first I said I'd write the paper and someone else could read it  since I wouldn't be in El Paso, but good friend Carol Roark persuaded me to go with her and share a room, and she was a saint about letting me hold on when I lost my balance (which is often in a strange city). I also went because I would see lots of old friends--and I did, including people who said kind words about my work at TCU Press and particularly a historical biographical series that I had helped get started. Mostly though I visited with people near and dear to me, so it ws a good time.
But I'm glad to be home and catching up. I had looked forward to seeing my dog and cat, eating a pimiento sandwich, and settling at my desk, all of which I've done. The animals were ravenous, but I know they were fed this morning.
Tomorrow: adventures in El Paso, because I mostly travel on my stomach, and outside the meetings, our adventures almost all involved food, some good, some not so good.

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