far away

I’m not sure if the trip to PA was a good one or not. Well, it was good, on many levels. And then again, being there so soon after my trips to Chicago slid something huge into place for me.

I miss my family.

I had been thinking about this for a while, but I love the Bay Area, and I have a job, which in today’s economy means a whole lot. To give up what I have right now seems foolish. On the other hand, all five of the top-rated library schools are in the Midwest or on the East Coast. Closer to my family, so much closer.

Traveling this time was the icing on this difficult cake. Because the crew of my first flight out of SFO was late, the flight was delayed an hour. Since I had an hour and a half layover in Dallas, I wasn’t too worried. I still had a chance to make it when, upon pulling up to the jetway, the pilot announced that there was “a green chemical spill” on the tarmac and they’d have to sit tight until it was cleaned up.

A half-hour later, I rushed off the plane and up to a gate agent, who informed me cheerily that my connecting flight had already left. I walked up to the ticket counter and asked about my options.

The ticket agent typed a few hundred things into her computer and said, “Well, your bags will be on the next flight to Pittsburgh, which will be at 12:40.”

“12:40 as in six HOURS from now?” I gaped.

“Only five hours and forty-five minutes,” the ticket agent corrected. She went on to say that she could get me on an earlier flight with another airline, but could not guarantee that my bags would make it onto that flight, and I’d have to pick up the bags at the airport in Pittsburgh.

Fine. Six hours it is. I bought a copy of the newest Harry Potter book and read for a while, then decided to nap.

As I was sleeping away Thursday morning in the airport, a toddler saw me laying on the floor and decided he needed to come wake me up.

By falling on my face.

What resulted was an incredibly painful and startling way to wake up, namely BABY TO THE HEAD. His parent was very apologetic, and I wasn’t upset until I realized what damage had been done. My upper lip split open inside my mouth and half of my face became swollen. I knew right then and there that it would be a trip to remember.

I was in first class on my flight to Pittsburgh, next to a man whose job involved something with Oracle databases. He had snapped his Achilles tendon in a game of volleyball and was all about describing his injury and consequent rehabilitation in the most gruesome detail. I spent the entire time with my lower abdomen aching, because whenever anyone describes bodily injury to me, this is how my empathy manifests itself. It sucks, but not as much as a snapped Achilles tendon. Yikes.

On the way back, I was actually on the plane and we were all ready to go when the pilot announced that there was an air-conditioning leak in the cabin and it would have to be fixed before we took off. After a half-hour of attempted maintenance, we were herded off the plane, encouraged to leave our carry-ons stowed because we’d be right back on it again. Right. I took everything of mine and slumped into a chair in the airport.

Three hours later, we were told that yes, the plane would take off soon, but we’d all probably miss our connecting flights so we should rebook. (Some of us had been holding out hope because there was bad weather in Dallas, and many flights out of Dallas had been delayed.) I rebooked for Monday morning and asked for a hotel voucher. I didn’t make it to the Holiday Inn until midnight Central time, and since I had been awake since 0800 Central time with only 4.5 hours sleep the night before, I crashed hard.

The Monday morning flight — again in first class — would have been perfect had it not been for the 50 minutes of sitting on the tarmac, waiting to take off, because there was bad weather in San Francisco. I arrived late, glad I didn’t have another connecting flight, and as I hefted my bags toward the airport shuttle, swore never to fly American Airlines again.

Airline hijinks aside, I miss being merely a long drive from my parents. I don’t know what’s keeping me here aside from my job, and conditions at work are steadily getting worse, as the people I enjoy working with find the situation untenable and move to other jobs. Pursuing a degree in library science at San Jose State is looking less and less attractive as I meet more and more folks who say the program is declining rapidly. And then there’s the fact that this whole place still reminds me of the relationship, and ensuing innocence and hope, that I have lost.

I have met wonderful people here, and they are the reasons why this decision isn’t already made. I don’t know what to do, or what to think, or how to feel; I just know that while my parents are both healthy and happy, I want to be nearer to them.