The Heart Is

Philosophically, I’m a strong advocate of the red eye. Practically, I’m losing faith.

I was in Santa Monica for sunset last night. And I was in Queens for sunrise this morning. I love that that’s even possible.

Growing up, my family took its fair share of road trips. No matter where we were — The Great Plains, The Great Lakes, The Badlands — my father would say, “Just imagine crossing this country in a covered wagon.” And so I still do, especially every time I fly 3000 miles in four hours. Going to sleep in California and waking up in New York still amazes me. It’s a modern miracle.

Eight hours of sleep over three days, however, tends to lead one to rethink that miracle.

It didn’t start so bad. I had a beer in the Expedia Travel Cafe (relishing the intersection of Microsoft and Sam Adams), then waltzed straight onto the plane. Most everyone was in place, and my seat was waiting for me. Better yet, there’s was enough room in the overhead bin for both of two laptops and my sport coat.

But then I noticed something at my feet. The woman in front of me had put her purse beneath her, no doubt to spare herself some legroom. I snapped, like road rage or something. I yanked off my headphone, leaned forward and said, “Um, ma’am? Would you mind not storing your purse where my legs go?” And she was all like, “Oh, sorry.” As if it hadn’t even occurred to her. As if she isn’t the type of person who is happy to inconvenience others to convenience herself.

There was also a really annoying Latino dude who had kind of a wheezy laugh. He was with some buddies and didn’t seem to understand the concept of what my mother always called an “inside voice.”

Despite it all, I fell asleep just a few minutes after takeoff, and slept most of the way across the country. I imagine we were somewhere over western Pennsylvania when I came to. My contacts were all gummy, so I couldn’t see so well. And my back was killing me. And my neck. And my head (see previous paragraph’s reference to beer). The plane landed somewhere around 6:15 this morning.

I love touching down in New York. I love the city bathed in sunrise, all glass, concrete and stone. It’s so ambitious. It’s so bold and crazy, loud and impolite. Somehow, it’s grounding. I mean, it is, after all, my home.

Make no mistake, I love Los Angeles. I love the balmy weather, the Santa Ana winds, the palm trees, the flowers constantly in bloom, the spicey air, the great, blue sky, and the Sig Alerts. I love the desert, the mountains, and the sea. I don’t even mind the whole Hollywood hullabaloo. It’s a great place to visit.

Stepping off the subway, and climbing up into the bustle of Times Square this morning, I wanted to sing out with David Gray, “You’re the one I love!” You are. I still love you, New York: noise, filth, frenzy and all.

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