10 March 2010

Hot Cookies and Pulchritude

Constant travel can be tiring, but one of its benefits is that I never know when circumstances will surprise and delight.

Tonight I ended up in an airport security queue behind a young woman with a very full carry-on bag. My first instinct was to regret being there, fearing she would take forever to prep for the x-ray. But then--first delightful surprise--I saw atop the pile of stuff in her open bag a small pink box with a Hot Cookie label on it. Some readers may recall posts about my own visits to Hot Cookie, what I bought there, and how I had a hilarious adventure myself with airport security screeners as a result.

Did I say something to her? Need you even ask? Of course I did. "You went to Hot Cookie?" And instantly she was all smiles and we began a conversation as animated and jovial as if we'd been lifelong friends. As we prepped for the x-ray screen I told her what happened last time I'd tried to carry one of those cookies through. She giggled and said she hoped she'd be spared that.

Finally it came our turn, and I said "all right, here we go, can't wait to see what happens!" And no, she didn't get flagged for a visual inspection. Know why? Because the TSA inspectors knew exactly what it was. When her bag emerged from the x-ray machine, both of them were laughing already. They'd recognized it on sight. They knew all about Hot Cookie and what you could buy there. They even called over one of their colleagues to enjoy the joke. So my new friend obligingly pulled it out. The cookie, I mean. From the box. More guffaws resulted all round. She volunteered that it was a gag gift for her mother. More laughs. I said she should get her mom a box of a dozen of them for Mother's Day. Even more laughs. Could you imagine this story happening in Salt Lake City? Don't think so. I'm sure glad I live where I do.

We walked together toward our gates, then said goodbye with big smiles and waves. And I was instantly transported from the ridiculous to the sublime, as I found myself surrounded at the gate by the entire University of San Francisco baseball team, all decked out in suits, traveling for an early season away game, virtually every one looking like an AF model. I hadn't seen such a parade of pulchritude since--well, actually, since lunch today at the company cafeteria, where even my colleague from Finance, who's also family but rarely visits main campus, noticed the plethora of eye candy. Damn, he said, I didn't know what I was missing, I'm gonna have to eat lunch here more often. And yes, you don't need to ask, I will definitely miss that particular perk when my current project ends.

So here I am again, forward window seat, writing another post and glancing outside and down 35,000 feet through the darkness to the lacework of lights that define the California coast. My regular commute. It is still strange to feel completely at home in two places 500 miles apart. My latest read is a biography of Joseph Needham, Cambridge professor who spent much of his life in China. Its author said that "despite his goading wanderlust he was often overwhelmed by waves of introspection and homesickness." Wow do I know what that's like. Another walking paradox like me, it seems. Needing an anchor, but needing to wander too. Glad to go home, then missing far-flung familiar places and yearning to go back again. Then missing home once more. Will I ever be perfectly settled, happy and content in one place, for good? Probably not. Like Lord Byron said, "there are wanderers o'er eternity, Whose boat drives on and on, and anchored ne'er shall be."

1 comment:

Quinn said...

MMM.... football hunks! Please tell me you sneaked some phone pics?!