10.9.1996

I’ve been back home now for almost two weeks. I think I have a brand new appreciation for living here in California. Some people experience a new found appreciation for the United States after they come home from an overseas trip to other countries. They realize how lucky they have been to live here. I feel lucky to live here now too but I didn’t need the expense or the hassle of visiting a third world country to arrive at this conclusion. All I needed was three and a half months of living in Spokane, Washington. That city might as well be a third world country. Lying face down in a muddy ditch along the side of highway 99 is better than living in Spokane Washington. Trust me on that one.

My trip home was a hassle, mainly thanks to the stupidity of Jennifer. The last night I was in Spokane I couldn’t sleep. As daylight began to seep through my apartment windows I got up, dressed myself, and put all my belongings in the car. My flight wasn’t until mid-afternoon but I could not wait to get the hell out of there, so I drove to the airport and turned in the car to Hertz. I checked in my luggage and went to the gate my flight was to leave from. It was eight in the morning. I was going to sit there for many hours fighting boredom but that was better than spending one more god damned minute anywhere in the city of Spokane. I bought a couple of magazines, a cup of coffee, and a muffin. Then I settled into the airport for the day.

Twenty minutes later I reached the middle of the first magazine that I had purchased. An airline attendant came up to me and asked if I’d like to get on a flight leaving for San Francisco now. There were a number of open seats on the flight and they had room for me if I’d like to go home early. Fuck yes! I took them up on the offer and hot-footed it across the terminal and down the gangway into the plane. Awesome. I jumped into an open seat on the plane that was on the window side of the fuselage instead of the aisle. I hated flying, but being able to look out the window was a small psychological comfort. If we were to crash into the ground I’d at least be able to see it coming. As I got myself squared away I looked out the window and saw a tiny tractor with a guy on it haul a bunch of empty trailers out to the plane. Right behind him in the first trailer I recognized my luggage. He slammed it onto a conveyor belt that led into the plane out of my view from the window. I really was headed home.

The flight into SFO was quick and uneventful. After I got my suitcases I wandered around the terminal thinking of how to reach Jennifer to let her know I was home hours earlier than I should have been. I went to a payphone and called her pager number. Over the next couple of hours I called her pager and tried to leave some sort of a message to let her know I was back already. All I could leave was a phone number. How would she know it was me? I began to get frustrated as more time passed. Continuing to wander around SFO I decided to hit one of the white courtesy telephones and call the firehouse. Maybe Dad was working. They have two firehouses out on the runways, one on the bay side, and one close to the terminal. Growing up I spent alot of time at both of those firehouses hanging out with the guys. All of the firemen were super cool. Dad should have been at 2 house, but when I called they said he wasn’t scheduled to work for the next couple of days. Shit. I could have hung out there all damn afternoon if only he had been working.

I spotted Jennifer sitting in a lounge near the gate my afternoon flight was scheduled to arrive at. I was happy to see her. I asked if she had received any of my pages and she told me that she had turned the pager off. I kinda lost my temper when she said that. Ever since Jennifer got a pager she’s had the stupid thing turned off like 90 percent of the time. It’s been useless, really. I should have known she would have it turned off. Like an idiot I blew my stack at her and asked why the fuck she had a pager if she was always going to walk around with it turned off. Two women who were passing by as I was berating Jennifer looked at me like I was a total asshole. I didn’t care. The rest of the day was blown. I had hoped it would be a happy reunion between Jennifer and I, instead it was a disaster. We went to Sausalito so I could buy her lunch at a restaurant that looked out over the bay. As we sat and ate neither one of us said anything to the other. It was extremely uncomfortable and boring. I became even more frustrated.

Since then things around the house have been a drag. Jennifer isn’t really happy to have me back. She’s mopey and distant all the time. I noticed someone was throwing lit cigarette butts onto the hood of my ’68 Cougar for what must have been months because so many of them had collected near the windshield wipers. I suspected it was Jennifer who had tossed them all on there. Some of the butts had smoldered into piles of dried flowers that fell from the tree branches above the car. Lucky the Cougar hadn’t caught on fire. I had asked Jennifer to drive my car at least once a week so it didn’t screw up the battery or cause some engine trouble due to sitting unused for so long. Obviously she hadn’t driven it at all, or made very little attempt to after I left for Spokane. In the trunk of her ’68 Cougar I found a box with a bunch of letters I had written to her. None of them had been opened. When I questioned her about what I found in her car she started to cry. I never got a honest explanation from her. She lied to me and said she had read all those letters but the envelopes must have somehow ‘self sealed’ again after being in her trunk for so long. Yeah, right.

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~ by factorypeasant on March 17, 2005.

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