On the plane home from Duesseldorf, I sat next to newly-minted Syracuse alum whose post-graduation trip had taken him to visit his sister in Germany. She's there on a Fulbright, the connection that started our conversation, and he's returning to an uncertain economy, job interviews, and the first undetermined period of his young life. I listened to him talk about his passion, working with emotionally troubled kids, about how his parents are teachers , about how jazzed he is that the future isn't pinned down. He was full of energy, intelligence, confidence, and kindness.
Perhaps it was the spirit of that encounter that sent me, despite my post-flight fatigue, sailing back into America. The passport control guy was chatty, too. I got a cab right away, and experienced a vintage white-knuckler down Liberty Avenue. At my destination, the driver tried to sell me a World Cup T-shirt out of the back of the cab. TR's downstairs neighbor, all 84 years of him in his shiny silver shorts and bathrobe, was unlocking the door and singing "Volare" when I came up the walk.
"Ya want me ta let ya in, dollface?"
Why yes I do.
TR gave me The Best Roast Chicken Ever along with the secret for making it, and I was deeply asleep before nine.
What a welcome, what a great conspiracy of circumstance as only NYC can provide! Now, watching the sun rise over Astoria, I am still buoyed by that swell of joy that started in the international terminal yesterday. I'm HOME. And the beautiful part is that I can't really say where home is. It is and always will be in this noisy, roiling city, but it's also, unbelievably, in Houston. It's on a variety of family guest beds, rooms we have been welcomed into for so many years that the "guest" part doesn't apply. It's in Northfield and St. Paul and Lake Orion, and now on the Glasergasse. It will be in our Mazda 3, starting at about 5 am on Saturday morning.