USA Tour 2003
Before we had satellites and other technologies, maps were built from the experiences of our past. Once created maps could be used to second guess our future. But even with all our technology, many of us still yearn to find our future through mysterious means, because even if we draw upon our pasts we know the future may well be different. Even though in probability terms using maps is far more likely to help us than using a divining rod, we still latch on to the slightest sign or omen that comes our way.
A few days ago I was looking out of my window in London and the sky was perfectly clear except for four airplane trails which made the pattern of a noughts and crosses (tic tac toe) game. A few days previously I had been at a friends house who wanted to do a tarot reading for me, the cards that came up said that I had plans that may be blocked by a man, my reaction to the situation would decide the out come, and that even if it ended badly I would learn a lot from the situation. A couple of days afterwards I had some problems at work and thought that the Tarot was probably referring to this but in the world of magic it’s best to keep all options open and apply whatever information comes your way, that way it’s more likely to fit something. So an image of a game, a problem to be dealt with carefully, these are my accomplices on this journey. I expect you can imagine how relieved I was to find out that our pilot was using tried and tested technology to get us to the States rather than a book of spells and a giant broom stick. But no matter how rational I try to be the omens hang in the background waiting to become relevant at the slightest opportunity.
This diary is supposed to follow a journey across the States, if everything goes to plan (“If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans” goes through my head.) The planned route is to start in New York and drive down to Phoenix Arizona. Larry my friend from New York is moving to Phoenix and asked me to co-drive with him. He has two cats and due to so many pets dying in transit on internal flights during the summer months we are going to be driving with the cats in the car. Anyone who has seen National Lampoon’s Vacation films will know where my head is right now. Let’s hope it doesn’t go quite that way. After we get to Phoenix and settle in for a few days, we aim to drive up to Las Vegas and possibly the Grand Canyon. My next section of the trip will be to Georgia by plane for a brief stay with a relative (a half niece) who I have never met before. So lots of driving and lots of opportunities for my omens too, by the way I have no idea what the tic tac toe image means maybe it’ll become apparent in time.
Heathrow airport was a mess, I was running late and had in front of me a group of children who were blocking the entrance to the terminal because their leader had stopped to read the check in screen. I was filled with an overwhelming urge to scatter them from my path but being British I just stood there smiling. Eventually after a few polite excuse me’s which were completely ignored the group moved on and once inside I found the situation worse. Like a dream no matter which way you turned there was an impasse. Eventually someone somewhere moved their trolley which allowed a trickle of movement which in turn moved my impasses. By this time I was no doubt someone else’s impasse too. Apart from this my journey went smoothly, there were of course the normal quandaries of whether I should jump queues or not, the choice is a balance of whether my disability means I will suffer a lot more than those around me by staying in the queue. If it does then I normally ask an official if I can go straight to the front. The airlines don’t seem to mind but those in the queue often give a glare. Really I shouldn’t worry about what they think but I do so it’s a trade off between physical or psychological pain.
traveling with anyone means if it’s to go well that all parties compromise, so the thought of spending two weeks with Larry means that both of us will have to work hard at not becoming too difficult with each other. This is experience speaking, I know that no matter how compatible you are with someone being in close quarters for a long period of time tends to create tensions. I’m struck by how we don’t tend to think about relationships in the same way. Generally we meet someone, fall in love and hope we’ll be compatible, but thinking of a relationship as an exercise in understanding, diplomacy and self sacrifice isn’t the normal way of seeing them. Traveling with anyone tends to be more fun than being alone but it still gives me some anxieties.
Before leaving for New York a friend had told me she was coming too, but on an earlier flight. We had arranged to meet this evening but when I checked my e-mail I found she hadn’t been able to make the trip, she had got food poisoning. The night before I’d been at a party and was very tempted to fill myself up on the buffet but I’d thought it best to eat as little as possible because I didn’t want to risk getting ill and I don’t like feeling bloated, it would, after all, be terribly embarrassing to come out of a plane loo with all those people watching with my trousers undone. In my case I’d probably get a hoard of people offering to do them up, but even so it would be a little bit inappropriate.
The journey took its toll on me, I was exhausted both from a lack of sleep, and too much leg work. On top of this was the feeling of being a long way from home. I had bought a new mobile phone that’ll work in the States but last night it wouldn’t. So apart from a quick e-mail session I felt a bit lonely. Some people want to get away from others but what makes me tick is communication and connection to people, and judging by our fascination with the Internet and mobile phones I am not the only one who feels like this. So it was with joy this morning that I managed to make and receive calls and text messages on my mobile. Not all carriers in the States support text messaging, so it’s not so popular over here but there’s something very appealing about the conciseness of text messages even if what you have to say is absolutely inane.
Liberty looks small against the skyline. Can’t get more symbolic than that can you?
More caged kids
Jose’s hand (More about Jose tomorrow)
This is about a third of the height of the Empire State building,
which was two thirds the height of the twin towers.