Rolled out of Philly Thursday night- through the rush hour traffic and miserable, gray rain. Plane was only delayed a few minutes and five hours later, time spent reading about the violence in Naples, Italy and listening to everything from Santogold to Van Morrison to Gang Starr to Faith No More, touched down in LAX. Just a brief stopover before finally arriving in San Diego. Of all the airports, the air outside the San Diego airport is the most refreshing. It pours into the cab windows and smells of salt. Late at night, after a cross country trip and perhaps a few too many Jack & Cokes, it's one of the best feelings in the world.
It would be roughly 36 hours in San Diego. Roughly 14 or 15 hours spent traveling- including layovers.
It would be quite possible to outrun jetlag.
It would be just like going to DC for work. If time stood still.
Out there in San Diego and head a little out of sorts, a little sideways due to the past few days of Vermont and back to Philly for a minute and then now out in San Diego. Bought a Gatorade at the store- for later, after the six pack was done. But while five days earlier, putting it on the windowsill made perfect sense, this time I had to make a few trips to the ice machine and fill the bathroom sink. The sink was just big enough for five beers and a Glacier Freeze. On Friday night, the only dude left in town, I tried to find Neighborhood, a bar we had tried to hit up last time we were there, but their absence of booze made it tough for some. But no worries there because that steak place was the goddamn cats pajamas. And shit if I don't still think about those mashed potatoes. But now on my own and killing some time I decided to find that bar, trying to remember the directions we had gotten a month ago. Pretty pleased with myself, I found it- 3 or so blocks up (from the other hotel) and maybe a block over.
But shit man, the place was packed. Not even a spot at the bar for a dude on his own to saddle up to.
Walking to Neighborhood, I noticed I was walking faster than usual and I attributed that to having a goal and a destination in mind. But walking away from the bar, I quickly noted I was walking slower, at more of a normal pace. The destination was gone, now there was just the goal. Things were more open-ended and for a second I got a little worried. The Gaslamp is a killer little district, but one that is hopping and busy on a Friday night. I don't have any problems with eating alone, happens a lot when traveling, but it's a lot easier to do when the place has a bar. It's why I ate at Applebee's twice on the way to Utah. If you're cruising solo, a place with a bar is your best option. But now I was concerned because all the bars in the Gas Lamp already seemed packed. Damn it, I was getting hungry. But damn it, whatever dude. So I headed back towards the hotel, where most of the district's restaurants were and after passing the coolest street band I've ever, ever, ever seen, I walked into the Whiskey Girl. Trashy, loud, and for that moment, pretty much awesome. Got a spot at the bar, right by two TV's showing both games. Kansas on one and UNC & Gonzaga on the other. In the middle was a bigger TV, showing the videos of the songs blasting through the restaurant. When November Rain came on, I took a break from both games and watched the video.
Ah, simpler times.
Later that night I came close to fisticuffs with a dude because I accidentally split a little bit of beer on his back. The pitcher was really goddamn full and I tried my best. All he said was thanks and I apologized, but I caught that bastard staring me down for five minutes afterwards. I was stoked when Jenn said we should go to the other end of the bar. To hell with that dude, accidents happen and you just got to let that go. If I had a nickle for every time I woke up Sunday morning with a little bit o' beer on my shirt, I'd have a shitload of nickles.
Luckily, if I was drinking a Pacifico the night before and left a floater- that beer is perfectly drinkable Sunday morning. This is according to the dude who proudly claimed that dude, I like to drink, like to blaze, and like to watch football. He was going to Vegas the next day and I imagined he'd be drinking a few floaters in the morning.
Saturday morning was leisurely and I decided it was time to head out when Sportscenter ended and women's basketball came on. Damn time change. Quick breakfast at the hotel and then a cab ride back to the airport, through the best smell in the world, with an Eastern European immigrant who was unsure how to process credit cards and first lived in Jersey. Ah, Atlantic City, he said. Then back on the plane, a bigger plane and I was up front at the emergency row with a large black dude who seemed to need help with everything. Getting his tray out of the arm rest, plugging in his headphones, calling the attendant. This is no judgement on his character at all. But if anything, I'd be concerned because if the plane went down, the two of us have some shit to do and frankly, given what I've seen so far, I don't think he'd be able to help much. It's the emergency row for God's sake! They called me to the counter before I boarded to ask if I was cool with sitting there. Oh I'm ready, I said. But this dude? I don't know man. Luckily Kevin Bacon was a few rows up in first class and I figured because he was wearing Aviators the whole time, he'd be able to fly the plane in an emergency.
A gracious layover in Denver, enough time to watch the UConn/Missouri game, eat a sloppy club sandwich, and have a few more Fat Tires. On the plane, smaller than the first one, the dude next to me in the window seat wearing a Spyder jacket and cowboy boots asked You going home? I am, I replied. Then I quickly said something about the Villanova game and turned away.
Back home a little after 11:30 and really only gone since 6ish on Thursday.
If time stood still, it'd be just like a jaunt down to DC.
With time not standing still though- moving along putter, putter, putter, it was a cross country back and forth through the time changes, ending abruptly with a cold beer, some chili, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, not entirely sure what had just happened.
Only sure that if I were Kevin Bacon, I'd be wearing sunglasses on the plane too. Just not Aviators. Because if shit does go down, people will be looking at you to do something. I'd wear more unassuming sunglasses. Sunglasses that said, oh that's Ryan O'Connell, he looks busy, we shouldn't bother him, but I'm sure if we needed him to, he'd help.
That's what I would do. But that's why he's Kevin Bacon and I'm not.
Go Nova, thanks for coming out.