by Peter Freyne
Got in late last night at Burlington International via Denver and Chicago - airports, that is. Four days late. All the ice and snow we're supposed to have is in New Mexico and Colorado. New Mexico was unprepared. That's outside my sister's door at right. Did not see a single snow-blower.
Did I tell you I haven't flown in 15 years?
At least not in an airplane.
In fact, I haven't been past the homestretch at Saratoga since Madeleine Kunin was governor in the 1980s.
Why leave Vermont?
That little lesson, I admit, is one this extended, unpredictable excursion to snowbound, frozen New Mexico and the Big America out there has taught me...big time.
Not ready to go into all of the details - saving it for the novel. But on Thursday's cross-country three-legged trip home across the USA, I touched souls with one very special person. One unique soul in the enormnous, plastic Denver Airport, where I had a three-hour layover yesterday. An airport with fast-food restaurants that containedno hint whatsoever it was in Denver, Colorado.
Courtenay was on her way to spenda week with her 23-year-old boyfriend. Met on the internet. "Instant-messaging"is their thing, she said with a smile.
He's in Colorado somewhere and she lives in a small town I never heard of that's 50 miles from Talledega, Alabama (famous for its raceway). He's finishing up to get his degree tobe an elementary school teacher. She works at a steakhouse jointwhere white Bible-Belters go to drink, talk like racists and tip lightly.
She was waiting another 3 hours after me for her flight. Came and satclose by and looked at me like a lost soul who wanted to talk to a real person. Courtenay was feelingas alienated and bummed out as me in that humanless, enormous Denver airport where no one makes eye contact. She was gentle and real and also scared, lonely and lost living out there in the big wide land of Wal-Mart and traffic jams, a land where the crooks and liars are in charge and all the clothing and plastic consumer-goods we wear and fill our lives with come from the Third World.
And she's not alone in feeling that way, is she?
Good to be home, gang.
It may take a couple days to adjust.
Bear with me. That's the Denver area below.
Just not my cup of tea.