Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 14, 2012

“You Are Welcome Home”: September 10, 2011

It was a good day to start a trip. (You may read  here and here two earlier bits about this trip.)  The weather was fine, just fine, thank you, God.  There were a few high clouds in an otherwise bright, clear, dry day.  We would not leave until a little before 3:00PM, so that meant we could do what everyone has done before, take apart all of the carefully packed bags, look everything over and put them back again.  After refolding everything, and adding one pair of underpants.

Kathy was going to drive us over to the bus station to get the Boston Express  which left at 3:00 PM.  That would put us at Logan just around 4:00PM; plenty of time to check in, allow the TSA to prod, grope, swipe and annoy us, and still grab a meal, lounge around and contemplate two weeks in another land.

We had worried for a day or two that Hurricane Katia might spoil things for us.  But she politely veered away from her predicted path robbing most of the news outfits from New York City to Presque Isle, ME, of anything to say.  Well there were still fires and sports, I suppose; oh, and traffic.  ( I sometimes wonder how anyone ever got anywhere  without traffic reports every five minutes for ten minutes each time.)

Now, a mere tropical storm, Katia,  an old lady of the sea, was chumming the waters of the mid-Atlantic with much diminished winds and sagging spirits.  I couldn’t have been more relieved.  Though I’ve crossed that bit of water a number of times I have never quite lost the little bit of wondering worry about how it might feel to fall 30,000 feet and hit the water in good enough form to get a decent score.

And so, we had packed, and re-packed finally consigning to Providence the hope that we had chosen well checked all of our documents, patted our wallets and brushed our teeth.  Kathy stood ready at her car.  After wrestling the suitcases into the trunk we were off on the first leg of our vacation.

The bus station is practically around the corner from our house, so the first leg is more like a big toe.  We got there with enough time to stand around  outside and think about where we would be in about ten hours at 3:00AM, wonder what the weather would be and how we’d feel.  When the bus pulled in we said our goodbyes, no tears, no scenes.  We wanted to be remembered just the way we were.

Practically the only passengers, except for a few young kids who seemed off home to Europe somewhere after bumming around the States for a while we made good time on the way down to Boston.  Have I mentioned that I like this way of doing it?  I do.  The bus drops us right at the terminal and there’s no bother with parking or standing in lines for cabs or trains or paying tolls or hauling your bags in and out of places too small or too cold or too this or that..  Get on.  Get off.  Go in.  Line up.  Get groped.  And wait.

Our daughter Jeanne called to say goodbye while we were riding by Chelmsford where she lives.  Funny how these things play out.  She was having a bad patch at work.  The kids were giving her fits and I began to feel a little bad about being on my way out of Dodge just when Black Bart seemed about to shoot up the whole town on her.  I was trying to find the right words to say, and hoping she wouldn’t think I was acting like the USG, promising to be there, and then finding something else more important to do just when the North Vietnamese or Taliban or any number of bad guys were on their way into town.

I’m half-way through my diplomatic representation and she says, “Bring me home a present.”  I said I would.  She’s always said that since she was about two feet high.  We told each other we loved each other, and I think I asked her to give Ken, her husband a kiss for me.  Reluctantly she agreed.

See, I Told You It Was A Great Day

See, I Told You It Was A Great day

I tried sleeping on the way down, but I realized I had what I used to call “Channel Fever”, that anticipatory excitement one gets at the start of going out, or just before coming back.  In almost no time we’d gotten there.

Bob The Bus Driver

Bob The Bus Driver (Not His Real Name)

We entered the terminal right at the Aer Lingus desk.  There was no line to speak of, and our check in went sooo easily I could have sworn they were waiting for us.  Things at the TSA Grab ‘n Grope Stand were uncharistically smooth and swift.  My tin hip only attracted the TSA equivalent of a yawn.  No one came anywhere near my “junk”, a term I had not been familiar with until I heard it used in connection with TSA procedures which would get anyone else arrested and require their registration as a sexual offender.

Once through there and on the other side and fully dressed (don’t you just love doing that in front of a thousand or so passers by?) we had about three hours to kill before the flight left.  It was to be the longest time of enforced idleness for the next two weeks, give or take.  We wandered down the long hall towards our gate and planted ourselves in a cozy corner to wait.

This Way to Ireland

No one was there except a few bored…or tired …airport employees, and one or two other passengers; like us early arrivals.

It’s Dirty Work But Somebody’s Got To Do It

I amused myself listening to conversations taking place around me, particularly one between a very well dressed older woman and a man who might have been anywhere between 40 and 60 years old, tall, thin, rumpled and unshaven, reading the New York Times.  He could have been a wanderer, a free-born man of the traveling people as the song has it, or an English professor.  She, I imagined was a lady of refinement and breeding, out of another age.  She reminded me of my Aunt, Violet Augustina Downs (I swear to God).

She told him of her life in Dublin, where our flight would put down, growing up in the city long ago.  “I was a little girl when I had my first glass of Port.  My father said to the first man who gave it to me,’Put some water in that.’ ”

I watched the moon rise above the runways on the clear night and imagined myself back there with her in the late 19th century even though it was only 1950, and wondered how much of that way of life would be left “Over”.

Shy, Blushing Moon

The terminal had started to fill up with more passengers, families, business men, vacationers like us.  It was near time to board.

The Office Is Always Open

Attendants had come to the desk before the gate:

They’ll Never Be Another Carolan, That’s All!


And then it was time to do so.  I would have the next five hours to think about the next two weeks, and imagine if home was still the way I left it when last I was there.  Mariellen and I smiled at each other and walked down the jetway.



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