Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Terminal Blues

I hate those couple of hours spent at foreign airport terminals before the boarding call.

It not only means I have oodles of time to kill thanks to hotel front desk staff who insist you leave four hours before your flight - time that's often spent unnecessarily spent at the Duty Free - but I also dreading going home.

Not that this trip's been all fun & games. Quite the contrary, if you've been reading up. And I miss my lady somethin' fierce, and can't wait to see her when I arrive in San Francisco.

But there's always the spectre of returning to the U.S. of A. I hate the feeling of dread knowing that in roughly 11 hours, I'll be greeted by some of the most unprofessional, uncouth immigration officers this side of the former Soviet Union. I sit here knowing that in half a day, I'll be completely incensed by the impatient, ill-mannered bastards who don't know how to stand around a baggage carrousel. And I can feel my sphincter tighten at the prospect of hearing nothing but "Presidential" this and "primary" that and "delegates" whoozawatsits for the next ten months.

If home is where the heart is, then I have one very hardened heart. (Probably more so now with last night's foie gras flowing through my bloodstream.) It's tough being in other countries and experiencing life at a different pace, with different values, and with a different perspective, only to come home to things to realize that all the people you love are surround by things you're starting to hate.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not some America-hater. But with every little footstep on foreign soil, I hate more and more what America's becoming. Impolite. Arrogant. Paranoid. I take criticism decently, so I don't feel offended by how my people and my country are handled by the foreign media. By taking a step back, I can see the ridicule heaped upon our once-great nation for championing liberty and democracy while leaning toward oligarchy and theocracy.

This isn't to say that Europe is perfect. France elected some Bush-lovin' righty in their most recent presidential election, and the previous president had to have a run-off with a freakin' Nazi. But in day to day life, everything is still imbued with a sense of politesse, that life is more than your job or your political party or your stock portfolio. That it matters more how your steak is cooked than which kook you voted for. That it matters more that you say "bonjour" to everyone you see than to call in the TIPS line because they look a bit dark.

Oh well - the grass is always greener on the other side. I should be thankful that I'm coming home to a wonderful woman, a loving family, awesome friends, great co-workers, and the best fucking city in all of America*. For whatever that's worth.

*San Francisco, for all you misinformed people who thought your hometown is better.

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