Yeah, yeah; I know I casually tossed out comments to a few people that presented my recent travel travails as a CliffsNotes version of The Odyssey; I also know I had very little right to such hyperbole. But now, back safe and sound and really too sleep-deprived to be writing anything at all, I’m delving more deeply into the ways in which my claims were totally off base, and that’s not even including the miracle of motorized transportation and flying machines that 1) are not operated by gods and 2) are not used to deliver you into your new existence as a constellation.
a. Obviously, although my journeys involved multiple and unexpected ports of call and close scrapes, they lasted a mere two days, as opposed to ten years.
b. The only island I got trapped on was the Dallas airport, in which there was no male version of Calypso trying to hold me down; the closest I got to being on the receiving end of any attempt to keep me on the spot came from the impersonal agenda of the weather, or maybe from other passengers’ mind-bending insistence on their own perceived right to be flown through ice and general mayhem (and that before anyone else), and to get their knickers in as loud a public twist as possible. I went blessedly unnoticed by any nymphs, save for the able ministrations of the airline’s customer service agents, who, if there’s any justice in this world, will be getting fat bonus checks for the holidays.
c. OK, so maybe at some point, everyone turned into a lotus eater, staring glassy-eyed at the looped inanities blaring from TVs placed every three feet in gate areas, having forgotten everything but the call of one’s own bed.
d. Thankfully, though, no one was required to poke out anyone’s single eyeball; no one, in spite of the stupidly brandished tempers trotted out all over the place, got eaten or had his/her bones used as a giant shepherd’s toothpick, even if it did seem as if someone had opened up Aeolus’ bag of winds that were driving airplanes all over the country out of control.
e. However, I did experience (and not for the first time) the conviction that we were all truly nothing more than well-clad animals, who would have fit in quite well with all those sailors Circe turned into swine. I also felt, throughout this 48-hour period, as if someone had set me solidly down inside the Land of the Dead; had The Odyssey included contemporary images of zombies, it might have gotten close to describing what everyone had become by the middle of the night.
f. As expected, no suitors were awaiting me at home. That’s OK in this case, though, because Penelope’s own clamoring crowd really just seemed like a bunch of mooching frat guys. I also really don’t need any sneaky and bloodthirsty disguised husband coming in and 1) playing mind games with me to test my loyalty or 2) going on an idiotic killing spree.
So yeah; no Odyssey, really. I did get a ton of reading done– much of which will have to wait until later to be discussed, as one of my bags (filled with books) was left temporarily on one leg of travel with family, in order to shed some ballast. (I will say that Mendelsohn’s The Lost was fantastic as a whole, as was Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.) If I can stay awake long enough to do it, I may just finish Roberto Calasso’s K.
But overall: truly grateful props go out to 1) various locales’ airline and airport staff, who have somehow agreed to accept paid roles as nature’s and everyone else’s scapegoats; 2) family with house keys on offer; 3) Amtrak; and 4) a super-fantastic cab driver who was not grumpy at two on a Tuesday morning, and who was a superb conversationalist to boot. Were it not for that whole miraculous combo, I would still– and this is no lie– be at the airport, waiting for a flight out tomorrow afternoon.