Whew! What an eventful holiday weekend indeed! I’m trying to figure out how to write all of this down. I think what I’ll do is write—stream of conscious. No holds barred. Let it rip. Ready? Get set. GO!
Flying was uneventful and fairly relaxing. We took an earlier flight on Wednesday, as the airport was a ghost town; no one was flying. Clearly the terrorists had won. The guards were actually teasing us as we entered the metal detectors, “You better run! You might miss your flight!!”
We had two and a half hours to wait. So we hopped on a nearly empty, earlier flight. We arrived in Detroit before our original plane left D.C.
New Year’s Eve was great fun ‘cept sick was creeping up on me like a dark front of bad weather. By morning I’d be hacking up things with a strange resemblance to goo I saw in a movie once. Seeing Gina again was great. We sipped champagne and I ate a lot of fresh cheesecake. Toby and I fell to bed earlier than the rest. I think I thought I heard the last muffled sounds of many people in another room at around 3:30 a.m. when my head touched down at Air Mattress.
Thursday we kicked around Detroit a bit. And I’ve been trying to figure out a way to explain all the feelings I have about Detroit. And I can’t do it justice. I just can’t. The city reminds me of the nights I spent at that one friend’s house I had in middle school whose parents were barely around. And while spending the night over at her place we would stay out to all hours of the night, come home smelling like whatever concocted form of alcohol we could fill a empty bottle of hair spray with (the spritzer kind of course), reeking of whatever smoke (funny-smelling or not), without the parental unit even noticing. All rules were lifted. Sweet, scary, unfamiliar nihilism set in. And once you are there – mixed with the freedom of having no one pay attention to your well being or the rules – it makes you kind of nervous. Detroit felt a bit like that. Desolate. Slightly intriguing. Sad. It’s like someone picked it up and emptied the rules. U-turns were not only forgiven, but also encouraged. Buildings are left to rot and fall and sag and yet there are wrinkles of hope everywhere. Old hope gone sour? A new hope beginning? I am not sure. But there are signs of hope. And it wasn’t that Detroit borders a particular part of Canada because on Friday when we began our trek into Niagara Falls, I realized just how depressing it gets up there on the 401 and the 402. (I know not all of Canada is like this, but the part we drove through was indeed flat and sad).
When I think of Niagara Falls, I think of diapers, neon signage, giant Frankensteins eating flame broiled hamburgers from Burger King. I think of strip malls, casino chips, sweat pants, wedgies and fog. Niagara Falls had been beaten. Don’t get me wrong the falls are beautiful. It’s when you turn around and face man’s role does it all fall apart. And I think our photographer, Kathy, put it well, “I can’t imagine why and how someone looked at something so naturally beautiful and said ‘Let’s build a casino and put up some strip malls’ “
I have to agree. They missed the mark on that one. I half-expected the Poconos or Mystic, we got Atlantic City and New Jersey.
Let’s just say that this weekend I realized I eloped with the right person. He took care of me while I was coughing and sneezing. He took care of me when I got lost while carving an unknown path through the ear lobe of Canada in our blue, American made borrowed car. He knew to laugh through the ordering of our first meal as man and wife at the Hard Rock Cafe in the basement of one of the most depressing casinos I have ever been in because the nicer restaurant we tried for decided to close. I realized I married the right boy as he stood there, sopping wet, standing next to a foggy waterfall laughing at the sounds I made as my dress began to cling to my torso and then (I think) freeze in place there. I realized I married the right person when he explained to me how they formed – those water falls, why they formed – those water falls and why he thought the people decided to build up casinos instead of picnic tables, hotels instead of bed and breakfasts. I married the right person because we always laugh together, because we always smile. I realized I married the right boy when he wiped the puddles of sweat from my palms as he explained to me just how it is that we were flying 37,000 feet above sea level and that we weren’t going to die. I realized I married the right boy when he told me he thinks I know how to dance.
Last night we sipped wine at a favorite restaurant in Washington D.C. And my mother called in to ask if I felt married. I said, “No, nothing feels different. A few words have changed and we have one more piece of paper to place.”
But there’s a certain unfamiliar relaxing assumption to things. For example, I knew that later we would soon spoon ourselves to sleep in our very own bed beneath rules and No U-turn signs. And before calling it a night I think I summed it up. Everything at the end of it all regardless of how you say “I do” or where you do say “I do” comes down to one word: Comfort. And last night after spending days running around the mid-west beneath the restraints of a time-limit, sleeping in unfamiliar beds, using unfamiliar money and abiding by unfamiliar (and sometimes) no rules at all, I could not have realized a more intense happiness. As I lay there on our own couch and contemplated words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ and ‘husband’, I purred into place. I looked at my three fuzzy cats and my new husband. Beneath the hum of the television I realized that what has changed is really quite powerful. It’s the ability to say hundreds of miles away from the unfamiliar Midwest (and even Kansas), “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”