November 17, 2005

The Journey Is The Punchline

After finishing work at 9:30, paying bills, eating dinner and packing, I didn’t get to sleep until after 11pm which, for the record, is many miles past my bedtime. That, of course, made it all the more difficult to drag my comatose body out of bed at the annoyingly happy sound of the 4:30 alarm clock. Yet somehow I managed to get up, crawl into the shower and slither myself into whatever random bits of clothing I could grab, just in time for the taxi to take me to the airport.

I’m flying to Kalamazoo right now. I’ve always made fun of Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo isn’t a city, it’s a punch-line. Apparently, my life has become the joke. As of last week, my Thanksgiving travel plans consisted of six luxuriously relaxing days with Cat and my family in Tampa, Florida. Unfortunately, that dream of a carefree holiday has had the crap beaten out of it. Over the past ten days, I’ve had to change my travel plans seven times as new meetings are confirmed, then cancelled, then re-confirmed to the point where the travel agent just laughs at me when she hears my voice.

I am now on my way out for two full weeks of travel that has me hitting such hot-spots as Kalamazoo, Detroit, Tampa, New Jersey and Rye Brook, New York; locations that sound like tour stops for such musical has-beens as Journey, White Snake, Asia or any number of other 90s hair bands desperate enough to still be cool that they’ll play any seedy bar that will have them.

I haven’t even been gone for two hours and I already miss my bed. More importantly, I miss my bike. I can run and swim while on the road, but obviously to bike brings up far greater challenges. But that’s another story.

We finally land in Kalamazoo. As we pull up to the gate, the pilot gets on the intercom and apologies for the rough landing. Apparently we lost control of our steering “when we hit the ground”. This is a great example of information I didn’t need to know. Ever. I stand up and head off the plane as quickly as possible, smashing head-on into the 23 degree weather. I didn’t bring a winter jacket. I don’t own a winter jacket. If I had one, I’d bring it. But I didn’t, because I don’t.

The Kalamazoo airport is about as big as my bathroom. It smells like urinal soap. The airport, not my bathroom. The luggage claim carousel is so small I could jump across the whole thing in one small leap. In fact, it’s not so much a carousel as it is a few pieces of rotating rubber slabs glued together. I finally get the bag, though, - which takes surprisingly long since there we only five pieces of luggage on the entire plane – and I jump in my rental car and drive to the hotel.

I’m staying in the nicest room of the nicest hotel in town – and it’s only $95, if that gives you an idea of the stylishness of the joint. As I’m checking in I look at the sign to my left. It’s a special offer for guests this coming weekend. In addition to a room and continental breakfast, the hotel is offering guests two tickets to Journey.

Journey is playing a show in town this Saturday.

My life, the joke.
Welcome to Kalamazoo.