The flight from Boston to DC was uneventful. Erika gave me an enormous hug at the curb, squeezing even more of that grateful feeling of friends and family into me, warming me up.
I strode outside into the nasty DC air and Ken rolled up to me only a few minutes later. We chatted more about his work ideas, and our impressions of the country I'd just driven across. He navigated the traffic, rain, and screwed up construction routes with a practiced patience. I could tell he'd done a lot of commuting in this city.
We met up with Chris for lunch at a popular burger joint. Look at those two! Cute as ever! MAH MAIN NUMBAH ONE HOMIEEEZ!!! Awwwwww! It was fun to catch up, and also to hear the good news that they were planning to return to the west coast soon. There are logistical difficulties, but, aren't there always, in a multi-thousand-mile move??
The rest of the afternoon, and of the 24 hours before I boarded a return flight to San Francisco, are a comfortable blur. I met my sister and saw her east-coast residence for the first time. I was feeling a little bit stunned at just how much I had seen in less than two weeks. Almost as stunning was the knowledge that I would fly all the way back over the country in about eight hours. (Cue the sound-bite of George Carlin, in the back of my head: "Doesn't anyone just take a freakin' WALK any more?")
I thought of the other trip - the bicycle ride - where I'd covered a similar stretch of ground, at an even slower pace. All the cheap food I'd bought, all the thoughts I'd stewed around in my mind and then laid carefully out, one day after the other. All the different sunsets and animal sounds, the disconnected moments so diverse that they didn't quite fit into the scope of a single bicycle journey - being chased for miles by playful dogs, exploring multiple creepy abandoned houses, crossing turbulent rivers over narrow roads, being encased in fog, buried in hailstones, blasted by the stink of ten thousand chickens, honked at, waved at, offered food out of car windows... The day I got food poisoning... All the books I listened to! Entire days of fresh air, exercise, snacks, and reading, simultaneously, every day for weeks, and not a single aching joint (thank you, recumbent)...
And here, an eight hour wait inside a tube of plastic and steel, and suddenly I'm back in town, like I never left.
What a trip. Driving, flying, or riding... What a trip.