Saturday, August 01, 2009

Transition Back to Toledo

This started as a brief email to my family ut it turned into a blog entry.

As we packed to go back to the US last night, we found ourselves in a rather nonfunctional, disorganized state: My planner disappeared, probably left on my desk at work. We mislaid some things we'd planned to bring with us. We got the times of our flights wrong (though not enough to miss any of our flights). But somehow we got our act together and we almost ready when the taxi picked us up at 7am.

Now we've arrived safely in Toledo after the long journey back from Scotland. We had a bad moment arriving in Amsterdam when the pilot aborted the landing about 100 ft above the ground. The first thing we were aware of was that the engines being throttled up and suddenly going up instead of down. Later, he explained that the plane had been coming in too low. We were very relieved when after circling around he came in for a safe landing. The rest of the journey was uneventful. The flight across the Atlantic felt like a strange transition time in which we were hanging between two lives in a kind of limbo or liminality. I spent most of the journey trying to regenerate a list of research projects for the Research Clinic data archive.

As I said, the rest of the trip was uneventful ... until we picked up our bag and discovered that someone had slit Diane's new suitcase open with some sort of sharp object. We thought it was just some normal damage and a cheap suitcase, until we discovered that they had also cut into the binding of Neal Stephenson's Anathem (a hard cover first edition signed by the author), ruining the book, which had been resting against the part of the suitcase that was cut. We filed a damage report with the airline, taped the bag up and took it home to Toledo. As far as we can tell so far it appears that nothing was taken from the bag, and Diane's green bridesmaid dress for her sister's wedding next week is thankfully still intact.

The Toledo house appears to be in good condition. Linda had the rugs cleaned this week and her grand piano is back from being reconditioned. I opened the upstairs windows to let the cool (but not cold) evening breeze in, relishing the interpenetration of outdoors into the house that is such as an important part of summer in the USA. We miss that in Scotland, where we've had to keep the windows closed all summer except for an occasional hour or two. As always, the roads feel like broad boulevards and the driving is easy. We dropped our luggage off at home and took Linda out for dinner at Jing Chuan, where we had Hot & Sour Soup, spring rolls, Kung Pao Delight, and Hunan Vegetables. Even though it was our 6th meal of the day, it tasted fabulous and made us feel home again, the ultimate comfort food.

After dinner, we stopped at the Game Room, now in its new larger quarters. In the card room, there was a group of almost 20 people playing Dungeons & Dragons. The Dungeon Master looked familiar... She looked up at us, and said, "Say, aren't you Ken's dad?" It was Nancy, the drama teacher from Start and Dungeon Master par excellence from Kenneth's gaming days. "Yes," I said. "Where's Ken?" she asked. "In Washington, DC, at a Go Conference," I replied, pleased to be able to say that he too was gaming tonight. "Well," she went on, "This is the same campaign that he was playing form Scotland last year, and it's almost over. There's even someone playing from Australia!" With their permission, I took some photos to show to Kenneth. Later, her husband followed us out of the room and we chatted with him for a few minutes, or rather he talked at us about how exciting the Dungeon & Dragons scene is right now, proudly showing us the schedule on the wall, listing D&D games practically ever night at the new Game Room.

We really like Scotland, but it's great to be back home in the Toledo again also, in my study, listening to Capercaille (Scotland's classic celtic trad folk rock group) as evening settles in and Diane and Linda's soft voices waft up the stairs. We rose very early at 5am in Glasgow and have travelled fair. Soon if not sooner it will be time to sleep, but for now I just want to experience the sense of return.

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