Friday, October 30, 2015

LOA Diaries: a rare business trip

My job with +Edmodo involved scheduling trainings for schools. We had a workshop paid for in Indiana and my director decided I should go so I could see how our training materials really holds up in the field. Teachers don't get many business trips but I'd had my fill in my first career. I agreed as long as I could go east a few days early and spend a bit of time with my friend Marie. 

I was able to use points to upgrade to first class and, had a relaxing 2 hour layover (with a departure gate two doors down from my arrival, confirming my belief that the distance between gates is inversely proportional to the time you have to get from one to the other.) I arrived just before midnight and without even realizing it, Marie and I stayed up talking until 4:00 am. The next two days we visited, laughed, cried, ran errands and talked. Nothing big, but really huge. Seeing Marie was tonic for both of us. She had been there for me when Jim died, and I was blessed to be there with her in her grief.

Two days after arriving I drove from Chicago to Indianapolis. I cried as I drove away, goodbyes taking on a deeper significance since Jim died. Marie and John had described the trip to me, having made it frequently.  First you see the giant cow, then the windmills, then the Subaru plant and not much else after that. What they didn't tell me is the trip would be in Kodachrome. Not only were the fall colors more vibrant the further south I got, but there was the most beautiful sunset across the plains, over my right shoulder as I drove. I kept thinking I should pull over to take a picture, but was hoping to get to my destination before it was too dark, so I pressed on.  

I cried again when I left Illinois as it symbolically ended my visit with Marie. Finally, I cried again when I got to Interstate 80, and the sign points left to Indiana or west to Iowa. My heart wanted to go to Iowa, but I turned towards the east and pressed on.  I was listening to an "oldies" station 80s and 90s and whatever, and they played We are Family, I got all my sisters and me... As I sang along through the tears, I felt blessed by all the sisters I have in my life.  My sisters by birth, yes, but also my sisters of choice, my close friends and cousins who love me like a sibling and are there when I need them. I stopped at a rest stop and texted Linda and Mitzi. Linda encouraged me to be brave and +M Ochoa  gave me courage by teaching me how to use the voice feature on my phone navigation. As so I pressed on.

I never saw the giant cow, but I did see a giant ear of corn (complete with melted butter), a giant fork, atop a tanker truck parked in a field and finally an over sized kitchen table with a red checkered table cloth. I can't be sure, but I think they were related to the giant cow. A little further down the road I passed one tall windmill to the east. I smiled thinking of Altamont and 'how cute' that they thought this was a big deal. I kept on my way and a bit further south I was extremely impressed by acre upon acre of wind farms.  I guess the one lone windmill was just a teaser. It seemed an unlikely coincidence that just at the moment I passed the Subaru factory, there was an ad on the radio for a local Subaru dealer... I wondered if they had their own transmitter that sneaked into whichever station passers by had playing.  

What the Agostas didn't tell me is that it was still about another hour to my hotel after the car factory. I passed through towns and lots of highway construction and thanks to my talking phone, I knew exactly where I was going, or at least how to get there.  I arrived safely, after dark but not too late to get dinner at the hotel and check in with folks and work back home. Still it was another late night, since Indiana is an hour later than Illinois. As I crawled into bed and set my alarm for 0 dark thirty, I cried again, missing my man and not being able to call him to say goodnight, as I did on so many trips. But I pressed on.

The training was well received, and we learned a lot about how to make the workshops even better. It was at a Catholic school that just the day before had hosted the relics from their patron saint, an event attended by thousands of parishioners and pilgrims, including some gypsies. The staff was still buzzing but were eager to learn and willing to try new things. After the training, as I drove south on a side road with seemingly hundreds of roundabouts, I briefly was irritated by the delay compared to a freeway to expressway I could've gotten to about 3 miles east. But then I remembered the moment is now, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the leaves. The reds and yellows and oranges were simply breathtaking.  Compared to our drought stricken brown California, the foliage really was a joy to behold and I was grateful to be driving slow enough to be able to take it all in. But still, I did not want to stop and take a picture. 

As I approached the airport there was a huge solar panel array right next to the highway, it was incredible and inspiring - a great use of uninhabitable space.  The training and debrief were done by 3 and I hoped that if I timed it right, I might be able to get an earlier flight home and get to my bed before midnight.  Alas, there was none, and I had about a 3 1/2 hour wait. So I relaxed and enjoyed the now. So at present I am 37,999 ft above the ground, traveling just under 500 mph. And I press on.

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