Saturday, January 06, 2007

Return to Scotland: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Entry for 6 January 2007 (En route back to Scotland):

Waiting in London-Gatwick Airport for almost 6 hours, after flying all night from the USA, is not my favourite travel experience. I thought we had a good reason to book this particular flight, but right now I can’t remember what that reason was…

We are in the far end of Gatwick’s North Terminal, at a kind of crossroad with entrances to 4 sets of gates. Passengers come through here in waves: Usually one at a time, then suddenly the crossing will be flooded with people. Some passengers limp by on crutches, others racing like gazelles to catch a flight. There are plenty of small children, frolicking, or dragging, or making strange noises, or dropping money in the donation globe across from where we sit.

Our departure yesterday from Toledo was chaotic: Shortly before he was to drive us to the Detroit airport, Brendan’s car died, requiring a quick change of plans and a phone call to the automobile club. Instead, we left Brendan at home to meet the tow-truck and Kenneth and Mayumi came with us to the airport, receiving a briefing along the way so that they’d be able to find their way home again afterwards. After several days of lovely clear, sunny, mild weather, it had been raining in Toledo for almost a day, possibly to ease our transition back to Scotland. As I drove us to the airport, the rain turned into a downpour, making it difficult to see the lines on highway. Our neighbor from Toledo phoned Diane on her cell phone to express his pleasure at having spearheaded the repair of our street; Mayumi noticed that she had missed a call and called in to retrieve it; then Brendan phoned Kenneth to tell him the truck had come and that Mayumi didn’t need to phone him back. For a few minutes I was left to drive through the blinding rain while everyone else in the car was on their cell phones. This is when I realized that my family had arrived in the 21st century!

At three weeks, this was the longest break from work I have taken in years. We divided our time between Northern California and Ohio, my first and second homes. We’ve had many things to sort out and business to take care of in our complicated new life, so there wasn’t too much down time. As always, it wasn’t the vacation I expected or planning (relatively little academic work got done), but it was, as usual, the vacation we needed.

We returned from California on New Years Eve, just in time to heat up our frozen dinners, hook up the television, and print out the music and words to all 5 verses of Auld Lang Syne, before the ball dropped at Times Square. Kenneth played the music as we made our way through the less familiar verses, some of them requiring translation with the help of the relevant Wikipedia entry. This could be a new family New Years custom…

In spite of being in the Eastern Standard Time zone, we spent our remaining days in the US effectively on Pacific Standard Time, staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning, sleeping in, then making our way through tasks such as organizing our records and my travel forms for our accountant and continuing to sort out the house to make it more liveable in its new 2nd home role. In the end, my main achievement re work was whittling my gmail inbox down from 560 message threads to 230!

Now it’s time to get back to work. It’s going to be a busy few weeks, with manuscripts to revise, research projects to get moving on, the Celtic Connections folk music festival, and of course our anticipated move to Hyndland, which will require us also to furnish an unfurnished flat in order to make it more like something we can make into another one of our Homes. New Years Resolutions include: reading more graphic novels, staying more on top of my email, keep better track of my teaching assignments, and more fully settling in to Glasgow. It should be interesting!

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