Thursday, November 10, 2005

The drive back - Stephen Hawking/A Briefer History of Time

The drive back from New Orleans was at times fun, at times monotonous, once or twice hair-raising. I had hoped to keep the passenger seat of the car pretty much empty, but of course ended up with the car full to the gills with tchotckis that would not fit anywhere else. So I drove 1300 miles with one hand constantly pushing stuff back onto the pile in the passenger seat.

The first thing to strike me as I drove east on I-10 out of the city of New Orleans was the damage from Hurricane Katrina extending well east of the city. I did not realize how far east the damage went. There are not so many residential zones there. But I saw an entire car dealership flooded out, for example. I wonder what a car dealership does when it floods.

I drove about five hours the first day. I had only left the house around 3 pm on Monday, and was already exhausted by the time I drove out.
I stayed in a hotel in Atmore, AL. There were flyers advertising jobs in Pine County Alabama for Hurricane Katrina survivors at the checkout counter (no DBA positions I noticed).

The second day was really when I hit my stride. I drove all the way to the west side of Atlanta. By this time I had started listening to Stephen Hawking's "A briefer history of time" on CD. I enjoy this kind of thing, though I don't pretend to have understood the half of it. There were moments during his description of general relativity in which I was absolutely certain that I understood it, only to have it slip away in the next moment.

The last day was odd. The drive from Atlanto to Philadelphia is pretty, and you definitely cross the line frome south to north on this drive. I pretty much tried to just put as many miles as possible behind me until I got to the Washington, DC area.

I realized I was going to drive within a couple of miles of Glen Echo, MD. I had lived in a house there for a couple of years with Charlotte. I decided to drive out and see it.

I drove up and looked, and marvelled at what a child I was at that point in my life. We had lived there together during the first Gulf War. I was a Marine then, and it was a constanty worry that they might figure out that I was cohabitating with my girlfriend, because it was likely I would get shipped to Kuwait. I came back to this house after running the Marine Corps Marathon and after bicycling from Natchez, MS to Arlington, VA. I had turned 27 in this house (Charlotte would have been 44 at that point, though that was a well-guarded secret at the time). And I had left for my assignment in Seychelles as a Peace Corps volunteer from this house. This house meant a lot to me. I snapped a couple of photos and drove on.

The drive between the DC area and Philadelphia is short. I finished off the drive with my last ounce of energy. After a quick meeting I headed home and unloaded the car. It was fun seeing Daniel reaquaint himslef with his toys. He said, "Daddy, I really love you because you brought my motorcycle". I know, it's conditional love, but I'll take it.

Sònia and I got in an idiotic fight over whether we gained or lost as a result of Hurricane Katrina (I think we came out slightly ahead, discounting a lof of hustling and inconvenience). I guess when you're due a fight any excuse will do. This must be normal after being together almost 24/7 since Hurricane Katrina and suddenly not seeing each other at all for 3 days (it still sucked, though).

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