I think it’s funny that driving on the Thruway scares me. I’ve done it before. I drove on freeways all the way across the country. But I haven’t done it much since then, more than a year ago. So yesterday I was trying to look and sound cheerful, la la la, no big deal, with my sisters in the car as we headed towards Rochester, an hour away. Every time I switched lanes I felt that jolt of “eeeek…” We made it to Deanna’s safe and sound, though.

Deanna and I have kept each other around since forever, since those mixed-up high school days when having a crush felt physically painful. She talked for a bit with my sisters and, after we left, they commented with surprise: “Wow. She’s really cool.” Well, yeah. I guess since they’re in high school now, they’re actually old enough to get along with my friends.

Driving back in the dark and rain, I told my sisters stories about how Patrick and I met, to stay calm.

Have you ever seen Trading Spaces? Two couples fix up a room in each others’ houses, any way they want to. It sounds a little Martha Stewart-style boring, but it’s good television in the grand tradition of the Price is Right. Super-enthusiastic people have a task, and the show’s hosts have to keep it all running smoothly. Plus it’s also just slightly dorky friends hanging out. There was also a very similar show on Danish television that I used to watch with my host family. My host dad had to narrate the whole thing, of course. “And now that man wants to wallpaper that woman’s kitchen with empty milk cartons… She won’t be happy.”

slow is me
Sometimes I have conversations where, no matter how hard I try, I’m still digesting something surprising or shocking that the other person said ten minutes ago. So for the rest of the conversation, I sound like I’m a million miles away. Really, one piece of my attention is lagging behind the rest, like that kid in gym class who everyone keeps lapping as they run the mile.

just wondering
On the cab ride to the airport last week, I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of a 9/11-caliber disaster happening on my flight. Except I didn’t think about the actual events of 9/11. Instead I thought about all those T.V. movies where the hijackers storm a plane with huge AK-47s or something. And I had this image of one of the hijackers shooting random passengers before doing any “real” damage. And I wondered, what would it be like to be one of the people who gets killed before anything else happens? Suddenly you’re out of the picture. Suddenly the rest of the movie keeps going, and you’re just… well, what would you be? Sure you’d be dead. But that’s not really very descriptive. Do you get to watch the rest of the movie?

cool thing
Deanna used to say that people should wear signs that said who you liked. And if they didn’t like you back, no one would care, and you’d just change your sign. She also thought that we should all come with tags, like laundry instructions, but about our personalities. So people would know what we’re all about. Well, someone else has come up with poem tags.

I am home. This is how I know:

  • So far I’ve only spoken to my father on the phone. Although there’s that added intimacy of local calling, I suppose.

  • My grandfather told the story about how Catholic school gym class meant opening the window, standing up, and breathing deeply. And the nuns pulled him around by the hair behind his ear all the time. We know, grandpa.
  • My sisters spent fifteen minutes composing the most expensive orders possible at the breakfast restaurant that we went to.
  • My mother spent two hours holding five samples of wallpaper up to the dining room walls, and thinking.
  • My Italian grandma called at 10pm to know if I wanted any waffles.

Why is this apartment so much squeakier, creakier and creepier tonight when I’m here alone? Ah, paranoia.