I woke up yesterday morning to the wee baby Seamus sticking his rear end in my face and meowing for some breakfast. I can’t really say I was all that solidly asleep anyway; three nights of sleeping on sofa cushions which won’t stay in position beneath you on the smooth vinyl tile floor isn’t conducive to deep sleep. I wanted to get up and feed him, but I knew that Erica has him on a feeding schedule, and if I did that she’d see it as parental meddling and a sign that I didn’t approve/didn’t think she knew how to care for her cat, and since those weren’t the case, I put up with the occasional cat butt until I finally came to enough to crawl up.
And I do mean crawl. All the walking of the past two days started to catch up with me, reminding me that I really hadn’t gotten that much exercise so far this summer, and my thighs were aching a bit. I got up, trying not to make old man noises, and after calling a cab company to arrange for a ride to Laguardia with a dispatcher that I’m still not convinced was speaking English, I got cleaned up and dressed for the day. By the time I had to leave, Erica was still in bed. I don’t blame her for not getting up. She would be going to work in just a few hours and be there until about 2:00 am, then turn around and be back there at 9:30 the next morning, so she needed to rest up. So I kissed her, thanked her for the great time the past two days, told her we’d (probably) see each other at Christmas time, and I headed down to the lobby.
The flights back to Columbus were uneventful, other than the fact that on the hour-long flight from Washington DC to Columbus, they needed to shift someone from the rear of the plane more to the front for weight and balance requirements. It had to be just one person, and someone who didn’t have any carry-ons stored overhead. I had accepted the offer of a free gate-check of my bag before leaving New York, so I volunteered. After I did, and we started walking forward, the flight attendant told me that the move would be into first class – and that he hadn’t said that before, knowing he’d have too many volunteers and a potential fight on his hands. So I was able to stretch out and enjoy a much more comfortable seat on the last leg of the flight, and score a quick exit upon arrival, which was nice.
Lori was waiting for me in the terminal, and provided the five-minute drive home. As soon as I got inside, and the air conditioning fired up, I lay down on my bed and took a long, deep nap, on a mattress, off the floor, and without cat butt. I’m telling you, this is living the good life.
I really did enjoy the trip. It was all too short, but it was so good spending time with Erica and doing things together, whether it was sightseeing, or eating at amazing places, or even just grocery shopping. I suppose she occasionally has lonely moments there too, and I hope that the trip was as soul-filling for her as it was for me. I know that recent events – the looming September 30th date with unemployment and poverty, in conjunction with being repeatedly rejected, or downright ignored, by dozens of congregations as I try to go through the call process – can make me irritable, anxious, not myself, and in general, not a lot of fun to be around. The vocational uncertainty, paired with the unavoidable self-doubt and decreased sense of self-worth that comes along with every one of the rejection letters and emails, can conspire to make me like the Snickers “Not Yourself” TV commercials. Spending time with Erica and just getting away from the familiar places and patterns, even just for a few days, was my eating a Snickers bar. It was just what I needed. No matter that I had a rejection letter from a congregation I had high hopes for waiting in my mailbox when I got home. I also had a package containing a jar of home-made blackberry jam there, too. And really, when you get to spend time with your daughter in one of the most exciting cities in the world, and you come home to a jar of home-made jam, what more could one man ask? As they say, Life is Good. God is good. Always has been, always will be. As Julian said, all shall be well, and all shall be well, and every manner of thing shall be well. And as far as I know, she didn’t even have blackberry jam.