Tuesday, August 3, 2010
First Trip Back to NC
I had been in NJ for a month when I made my first visit back home to NC. Our hiring bonus at Hoechst Marion Roussel was generous especially for a low-ranking scientist such as me. This package allotted money for one plane trip back to our old home which I readily used. This would be one of the few times I would fly to NC. The next time I would fly to NC would be on my interview trip three and a half years later when GSK flew me down to RTP in 2002.
My boss at HMR allowed me to leave work early so I arranged for a 5pm flight from Newark Intl. to RDU. I took off work at 2:30 and made the 40 min journey to Newark without any problems. For those who are not from the NYC metro area, a lot of bad things can happen in that area and it is so easy to get lost on the highways there which from above looks like a bowl of spaghetti the way they are knotted up and entangled. I knew of one guy who ‘thought’ he was going to Newark Intl. but took a wrong turn, ended up in a tunnel and came out somewhere in Manhattan. Another person I know who was from NM took a rental car and in an attempt to drive to central NJ, found herself in Philadelphia somewhere.
So I was thankful I made it to Newark uneventfully. I parked in a long term parking lot which is at least a mile from my terminal so I had to take a shuttle to finish my journey to the airport itself. In the meantime, I waited and watched the planes fly in. It’s amazing the flight traffic Newark handles which makes it clear that one glitch or back-up can lead to a cascade of events delaying flights for minutes and even hours. Fortunately for me, the weather was clear not only in Newark but in Chicago as well. For some reason, any delays at Newark are attributed to ‘bad weather’ in Chicago.
I only had one carry-on bag so I was able to make it through security quickly and consequently depart the airport quickly at RDU. I rented a car at RDU and drove home. The biggest difference between NJ and NC (or at least central NC) during that trip was that the leaves were still green and lush while in NJ the trees had started the Fall change. Something I noticed about NJ is that the Spring there starts later in the year than in NC and is shorter as well. However the Fall lasts longer and the leaves changing tends to be more vivid and colorful than in central NC.
While I was away a few things had changed. First my mom had bought some new furniture for her den. (This was the start of her Grand Spending Spree) She spent an overwhelming amount of time in there reading books, talking on the phone and watching TV. She loved this furniture but I thought it was a terrible choice. The couch and seats were cloth covered. Anyone with a big dog knows how hard it is to clean fabric furniture. Try as you may, it just can’t be done. The filth and grime from the dogs become a part of that fabric digging deep down into the cloth. Furthermore, the fabric is a trap for all smells, good or bad. And it seems like the bad smells trump the good ones. Also, the color of the furniture was not well thought out as far as how it would look as the furniture aged. It was a light yellow couch, but I can’t describe the pattern on the couch and seats. The most important point is the fact that light yellow doesn’t hide dirt that well, and as these items began to show wear and tear, the dirt displayed itself in an obvious manner and made the furniture dull and grungy.
As I drove up the hill, the babies could hear me, and I could see their little heads peeping through the breakfast room window which has a clear vantage point to our driveway. I got out of the car and could hear the babies barking loudly. By the time I made it to the kitchen door, the babies were there to greet me--Abby, Andy and Father. Father was hopping around. I was surprised that he was so happy to see me. Andy was happy too, but I wasn’t sure why. I’m not sure if he was happy that it was me myself that he missed. I also wondered if he was happy because of the fact that someone, anyone, was there and that he simply loved company. He could have been excited because Abby was excited. Andy almost always followed Abby’s lead and responded accordingly. By this time, Andy was over 5mos old and he had grown quite a bit. He must have been over 50lbs at that time. No longer was a lap dog. It’s always a sad moment when a larger breed dog transitions from the puppy stage to an young adult stage and can no longer sit on someone’s lap. The dog is often confused and frustrated that it can’t sit on its owner’s lap, and after a few futile attempts to do so, they get the message and no longer try to sit on their owner anymore.
I opened the kitchen door and all three dogs tried to jump up on me. I leaned over and let all three of them kissy me. Even Father gave a few quick kisses. I put down my bag, walked into the den and greeted my mom who was sitting on the couch. I sat on one of those new cloth chairs when my mom reminded me that the dogs were not allowed on the furniture. I had known about this new rule a couple of weeks ago when my mom told me on the phone. I was irritated because I knew Abby would be confused and hurt since before I left, she had free run of the house including getting up on furniture. If my mom wanted to enforce such a rule, she should have started it when Abby was a puppy and not when she was nearly 2 ½ years old. I was further irritated because of the fact that my mom chose to buy cloth covered furniture since she had three large dogs that often spent time outside and in a pool in the back.
I had no sooner sat in the chair than Abby had jumped over the chair’s armrest and climbed behind me and sat between me and the back of the chair. She stared at me mom with a look that said ‘What are you going to do about it? HE’S back and you can’t do anything to me.’ My mom fussed a little but she caved in to Abby’s scheming deviousness and let her stay on the chair. From then on, my mom gave up her ‘No dogs on the furniture’ decree and let the babies climb on the furniture whenever they wanted.
Abby’s excitement was so palpable and sweet. She knew better than to get on that chair but she was overcome with happiness of my arrival that she disregarded my mom’s orders and climbed on the chair. She wanted to be as close to me as possible and didn’t give a damn about any rules! I was home and Baby Girl was happy.