92. Impressions from a Cynical Traveler

My typewriter monkeys and I made it safely to Indiana, much to my own surprise. Things go wrong when I travel, you see. Missed flights, misplaced luggage, sleepless nights, broken boarding ramps, typewriter monkeys misdirected to Vietnam—as far as I’m concerned, the magic has gone out of international travel.

This time there was only one problem. The computers weren’t working in the Montevideo airport, which meant luggage was checked and boarding passes written without the help of machines. (I’ve typed out blog posts without help from my monkeys or their typewriters, so I know how hard it can be to do by hand what’s supposed to be done automatically.) My mum, a marvelously patient lady, stood in line with me as I waited to check my bags and receive a pass.

I checked my suitcases, commending them to God, and pocketed my boarding pass. The time had come to me to say goodbye to my mum, old man and younger brother. I did, wishing goodbyes weren’t so hard.

I spent part of the flight from Montevideo to Miami conversing with a nice old gentleman who works in the education department of a university in Philadelphia. We discussed the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, the premise of my novel, his impressions of Uruguay and a few other things. I never did get his name, though.

After I arrived at the Miami airport, a customs official informed me that I look like Harry Potter. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that comparison. I’ve taught three groups of students on three different continents, and each time at least one kid told me I looked like Harry. (In South Korea, a number of students addressed me as “Harry Potter Teacher.”) It’s a mystery to me how anyone can draw any connection between a skinny, black-haired, green-eyed Briton like Harry and a stocky, brown-haired, brown-eyed American like me. I suppose I should count my blessings. At least people aren’t comparing me to, say, Charlie Sheen.

From Miami I flew to Dallas, where I spent an eight-hour layover drinking coffee, wandering around the terminal and working on The Wanderings of Lance Eliot, the sequel to my novel. Although I was severely tempted to try out my Matthew McConaughey impression, I refrained. I’m pretty sure they shoot you for McConaughey impressions in Texas.

From Dallas I flew to Fort Wayne, where my older brother picked me up. My typewriter monkeys and I have taken up residence in his spare bedroom until I find an apartment of my own. Needless to say, my room smells strongly of bananas.

I’m glad to see my brother, sister-in-law and nephew again, and less glad to be used as a sidewalk by their cats. (Why the cats choose to walk all over me, when they have the whole house to roam, is a mystery.)

As usual, leaving loved ones and moving to a new place has been hard. It’s emotionally exhausting, with depression, excitement, homesickness, anxiety, hope and despair all taking turns. For now, I can only remember dear old Paul’s word’s in the twelfth chapter of Romans: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

I also need to keep an eye on my typewriter monkeys. I’m afraid they’ll pick a fight with the cats if I’m not careful.

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