Thursday, September 3, 2009


Going to the airport is really okay by me -- as long as I am not in a hurry and as long as I don’t have to park and fly anywhere myself. Flying makes me whacked for some reason. I believe it's a deep-seated life neuroses that somehow ties into being the youngest child and my mother going back to work when I attended kindergarten. A sort of crazy abandonment issue ....

I diagnosed that myself, so I am sure it is right.

Anyway, David and I headed out to the airport at 8 to pick up my nephew who is flying in from Houston for my niece’s wedding.

Atlanta had an almost full moon; it peaked out from behind some wispy clouds, and the whole evening had a hint of autumn in the air.

The cool day had already inspired me to open the windows at the house and made Keats and Tallulah froggier and crazier. They ran from room to room, springing into the open windows, fur bunched and tail thick with anticipation of the smells of outside. At one point I looked up, and Tallulah was spread-eagle on the screen, her face plastered against the leaf of a fichus plant sniffing it like it was cat crack.

The cross ventilation cooled the house and brought in the myriad sounds of outside.

The ride down I-75 was full of human activity. Each car we passed, I wondered who they were, where they were going, and why at that time. I saw a van, packed to the frame with children and boxes -- the back window view obscured for the driver by a huge stuffed animal splayed across the venue. Another car, identified by David as the new Camaro, was blaring music, its occupants heads nodding and tapping to the beat, its ride low,its windows down, its color a bright orange. The night felt electric, full of purpose or prospect.

Sun-roof back, I assimilated to my surroundings and sucked them in like an elixir.

Downtown Atlanta is the most beautiful at night. Once we met the intersecting of I-75 and I-85, the tall buildings lined each side of the road, their many windows lit, and their tops blazoning the logos of law firms, television stations, hotels, and Fortune 500 companies - -- each in colors soothing to the eye like each architect considered his neighbor as he determined their shape, their design, and their size.

I saw the bright red V of the Varsity as we hustled down the interstate smack dab in the middle of the seven lanes packed with traffic, moving but tight, and an occasional wild driver who changed lanes with his heartbeat.

Me: Where do you suppose are all these people going?
David: Home.
Me: I like to think it is more exciting than that -- to a rendezvous, a romantic destination, a reunion, a fabulous place to eat, or the theater.
David: If they were smart, they would be at home sitting in front of their television and watching the US Open.
Me: Boring -- it’s more exciting to be out and going somewhere.
David: Like the airport?
Me: Like the airport.

We sped past a darkened Turner Field, the tunnels empty, the lights on low, and the crowd somewhere else.

As we got to the south of Atlanta, which is where I grew up, I always marvel at the changes, and how my parents, dead almost fifteen years, would not recognize it. Lakewood Freeway has been renamed Lankford Parkway. The old bungalows that used to hang on the hills overlooking “the expressway” have been razed for apartments and condos, a lone holdout the only familiar one. The kudzu, however, still clings fiercely to the banks like aphids.

We zoomed to 85 where we headed to Camp Creek Parkway and to the Atlanta Airport.

I called my nephew and told him we were five minutes out, and he, answering my call, told me he was on the train, as I imagined torpedoing in the bowels of the airport to be spit out at baggage claim.

We waited for him under the bright lights of the terminal, the car idling, and I stepped out of the car and finally spotted him, a tall, young, grown man, coming to his cousin’s wedding sporting khaki' s, a gray pin-striped button down, and designer shoes -- no longer the tow-headed young boy who giggled and said multi-syllabic words at the age of two. Coming from his corporate job, he looked like a business man except for the Dr. Dre headphones he donned on his head for airplane travel. (I don’t know if he said Dr. Dre, Dr. Dread, or Dr. Doolittle.)

I called his name, but I had a longer time to look at him before he saw me since his ears were still cut off from the sounds around him by the headphones.

Grown. Adult. Independent. Confident.

On the way back from the airport, I had no time to contemplate the sights in front of me. We chatted up about his flight, his life, his comments about the bureaucracy of working for a large company with a new C.E.O -- and of course, his new headphones which he proudly allowed David and me to try.

They were awesome, but they are totally for the young. I listened briefly to a band I didn’t know and noted that they completely obliterated outside noise.

My nephew said, “They were awesome for my 17 hour flight to Egypt where I needed to drown out the noise of the chickens.”

Me: Chickens?
Him: They don’t call it Air Bus for nothing.

That’s all I got.

ETA: Excuse the typos as I am in a hurry. :)


  1. You were so descriptive that I could almost picture your entire journey there.

  2. You almost make me miss living in Atlanta, almost. . .

  3. I now recall why I failed your class...Read it, every word, but can't recall anything...Read it again, remembered a little...Read it a third time, and I remember a lot of it. You were right: We have the attention span of squirrels on crack.
    Joe Goff

  4. Are you supposed to tell your students that they have the attention span of squirrels on crack?

  5. Once again, I loved it Mrs. Gillham. The style is wonderful.

  6. I miss Atlanta too! I remember heading down 75 to my house off Howell Mill Road right behind Fellinis and you really don't want to know what I saw some guy doing in his car ;)!


  7. the city at night is one of my favorites :)

  8. Wonderful blog. I almost felt like I was there with you. September happens to be my favorite month. I love fall. Back to school, college football, my son's soccer games, the leaves changing colors, the crisp nights. I kinda chuckled when you were wondering about the passer-bys. I do that same thing. I even do it when passing by houses. Wonder what is happening in them. Anyway, another enjoyable blog. Thank you.