NCTE is always filled with learning experiences, aha moments, and opportunities for reflection. But it is those hidden gems (thank you, Katherine Bomer) that provide inspiration for slices. Here’s one that describes the last leg of my journey home.
The shuttle to Park and Jet was filled to capacity. One guy even sat on the steps which was probably illegal and definitely unsafe. We were from different spaces and places, an interesting mix, all anxious to keep moving towards home. There was the couple who were returning from somewhere out west where they had gone for some special hiking, and the first time shuttle users who weren’t sure if they should get off at the hotel or the parking lot. My favorite was the gentleman carrying a long rectangular aluminum case. At first I thought perhaps it was a guitar, but then I spied the red and white cooler and I knew right away – fishing rods. He allowed the driver to store the cooler in the back, but he stood watch to make sure it was loaded properly. I think he might have been more concerned about his catch than his rods.
And then there was the driver who greeted us with “How about a little Christmas music?” I’m not a big fan of rushing the season, but I might have let this go in the spirit of peace and love and all that if it were not for the music he chose to share. No Mannheim Steamrollers or Josh Groban. Just Alvin and the Chipmunks squeaking through “All I Want for Christmas” and other cute tunes while pretty much destroying “White Christmas” (I think Bing was turning in his grave). When the door opened to let passengers out, the buzzing from the overhead light added just the right accompaniment to the Chipmunks’ high-pitched harmonies. I longed for Row 14 and my waiting CRV that would finally take me home.
But despite all that, I looked at our small group of passengers as a temporary community. When a seat opened up next to me, the guy sitting on the steps took it. It was a tight squeeze and the only way he could fit was to spread his arms out on the back of the seats. I just looked at him and laughed. “It’s all good,” he said. And it was. We were home.