Monday, July 14, 2003

I'm home. It's no contradiction to say that I left home Friday morning and flew home. My room in the apartment in El Cerrito is home; so is the room in Maryland where I'm sitting now. When I leave here at the end of the month, I'll be again eager to return home.

The flight was long but uneventful. the most excitement was at the transfer in Houston. The flight I'd taken from Oakland arrived late, and I sat at the back of the plane. The gate for my departing flight was far from the gate for the incoming flight, and I worried I might not make it in time. I walk quickly, but it turned out that my worry was not warranted. The departing flight was also late, enough so that I had a moment to use the restroom before boarding began. Still, the experience taught me something that I've long suspected: a fast walker can move through an airport more quickly than a cart can. A cart has more difficulty bypassing clots of pedestrians than a man afoot does.

Saturday, I ate lunch with my parents and brother Scott at La Tolteca. Then we went to the library. I passed the rest of the afternoon reading a Star Wars book by Alan Dean Foster; it was entertaining, if not inspired. Mom, Dad, and Scott spent much of the afternoon reading, too. We are a reading family, and always have been. We read to ourselves; we read aloud when we find a particularly funny passage; and we share book tales and recommendations. work, food, and books hold us together -- and with friends no less than with family.

We listened to Prairie Home Companion in the evening. Then the rain came and went, and with it went the power. I read by lamp light for a time, then went to bed. The power did not return until the morning.

I'm still reading Barzun's Dawn to Decadence. He writes stories in clear prose, simply but not simplistically. He describes human characters, not cutouts. He presents events within trends, not as isolated occurrences with attached dates. I read with pen in and, and write down the references I'd like to read and the points I'd like to share or to contest. I thoroughly enjoy the process. Why couldn't high school history have been more like this?

I look around my room at home, and I realize that the notes I take now will probably still be with me a decade hence. I'm a packrat. The things in the room remind me: the plaster casting of a fox pawprint, the figurine of the little frog with a beseeching expression, even the used backing powder can that serves as a pen holder. They have all been around for well over a decade, now, which is a long time for someone my age. I still have the filger full of copper from the penny I dissolved in high school chemistry. In the closet are 5.25 inch disks for the C64 that I probably could no longer read even if I had access to a compatible drive. There are old letters, and long-broken watches, and colored pencils that date from middle school. And of course there are books.

Unfortunately, there is not an old Parker fountain pen of the type that fits the ink cartridge I tried to put into one of my Sheaffer pens. I poked a hole in the cartridge before I realized it would not fit: thus, my search through all the artifacts in my room. I think the relic I sought is in California, though.

I wrote a lot with those pens. I still write a lot with those pens. One summer when I was in middle school -- was it before seventh grade, or before eighth? -- I taught myself again how to write. Before that, my print was a messy scrawl, and my cursive came out at a crawl. Now, both print and script are neat, though sometimes too small, and I can write reasonably quickly. Further, I've discovered that I enjoy the feel of having a pen in hand. I enjoy typing, too, and I type more quickly than I write by hand. But it's not the same.