The roommates celebrated our last official night together over homemade sticky toffee pudding in our house. Congregating around the table brought overt reminders that three of us were en route for the summer, one for longer than that. But all of us amid packing and organizing thoughts found time for the gooey warm toffee-soaked dessert that has become a specialty.
A woman with three little girls sat in the row in front of me as I boarded the plane from L.A. to Cleveland. I enjoy children, but not on airplanes. This leg especially was a poor one for such proximity, since the five hours required to traverse above the flyover states were supposed to be my time to catch some z’s. Instead the perfect pitch of the baby’s cry pierced the air, hatcheting away at it as if silence were corn stalks, ripe for the taking.
In Cleveland at an absurdly early hour, I chatted with a warm soul of a woman named Windee, who had been married to a guy in the army and through his job had lived in Frankfurt, Okinawa and Alaska, among other military outposts. As we spoke about Frankfurt, she remarked that moving back to Ohio and seeing trash littering the streets was disconcerting, since Frankfurt possessed neat, clean rows of streets.
I sat waiting for my last plane to arrive and 100 kids magically appeared, all wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “Camp Robinhood” on them. It quickly became obvious that out of us four adults, we would be flying to New Hampshire on a shuttle plane. They botched my name, trying to say it aloud over the P.A. and asked, “Are you ready?”
“Sure.” (I’m always ready.)
“Now, since you’re flying as a UM…”
(I cut in) “Um, what is a UM exactly?”
Which meant, kids, that they had me down on a list of those 14 and under… Baby face only goes so far, really. But out of her embarrassment, she escorted me onto the plane before anyone else, giving a very VIP sensibility to my last leg of the journey.
I’m tired. And moody. Meaning my introvert is seeping out of orifices I didn’t even know I had. My extrovert is slumbering and I am counting the minutes until her hibernation is complete. Like tomorrow. But the exciting news is that I got the mentor I requested: Jeff Friedman. He writes some fantastic lyrical narrative poetry and lately has been delving into midrash more heavily. At tonight’s reading, he shared a poem written from the perspective of Ishmael and one written from the perspective of Hagar. Interesting. I will enjoy his comments on my Sarah-inspired poem, among my other midrashic feats.