Came home last night from a quick jaunt down to Rawleeee, North Carolina- or close to Raleigh. As the plane circled around the cold night sky above Philadelphia, waiting for an available gate, I finished "Born Standing Up," Steve Martin's memoir about his childhood and stand up career. I finish memoirs and instantly want to write my own. But we did not stay up in the air long enough.
It was my first work trip for the new gig, yet like past trips, it included the friendly and temperature-controlled confines of a hotel conference room- complete with a plastic bowl of hard candies and glasses of ice water. No buckets of Red Bull, though. But that was fine. I saw one guy pound a Five Hour Energy drink and if I needed any kind of direct sign that times had changed, that would have been it. No American Express card in my wallet would have been the other. It was a new sports staff training and unlike Air Race meetings, I had no problem understanding anything anyone was saying. That was nice.
Never actually made it to Raleigh proper- our hotel was nestled in nicely in a cul-de-sac of other chain hotels a few miles from the airport. We ventured out one night for barbecue, couldn't find it and settled for a sports bar- a bar that when we first walked in, looked slightly like a bar fight bar. So I suggested we sit by the juke box. Easy access to throw someone into if in case shit did hit the fan. We would participate, but not be inconvenienced.
It was a Steelers' bar, a Terrible Towel flag hanging behind the bar. After dinner, we saddled up to the hotel bar, next to a very large Packers' fan. It was hard to not think about football. It was also hard not to think about my cute little fiance back home in Philadelphia. Having her in my life has made traveling for work instantly less appealing and as soon as I left Sunday, I was ready to be home.
Coming home from work trips for MSI was a cold and lonely experience. I always got home late, after most everything in the airport had closed and had to catch a cab back to my apartment, which was more often than not, completely devoid of food. Depending on how long I was gone depended on how many magazines were stacked up in my mailbox. They were joined by bills and junk mail. It was hard to think that without those magazines being there, no one would have known I was gone. I always simultaneously hated and enjoyed the cab rides home from the airport. I liked driving into Philly and it was comforting, much like driving from the San Diego airport was comforting because of the ocean smell. No ocean smell in Philly, though. But the sight of Center City more than made up for it. It was tough because it was a return to normalcy and at that point in my life, there were few things I despised more.
But now it's that return to normalcy I craved. If my flight had been delayed, I would have walked home rather than be away from home any longer.
All in all, the trip was another friendly Ryno-minder that things in my life were changing. This is what I wanted, I wanted a change. It had been time to move on, to move forward. Maybe I didn't really want to move in the direction of North Carolina, but I wanted to move in a direction where I was cool with that and that's what happened. I never saw Michael Jordan and unfortunately I didn't see one fight between UNC and Duke fans. The only tell I was in North Carolina was the accents of the hotel staff.
Two years ago, the best part about traveling for work was seeing the sights on someone else's dime.
Today, the best part about traveling for work is getting home.
Thanks for coming out Rawleeeee. You've been wonderful.