Way back in the day, when men were men and newspapers minted money, I’d fly a lot for work. Many times, I would intentionally route myself from Virginia through Philadelphia with a longish layover, two hours or more.
I grew up in a house about 10 minutes from the Philly airport, the home my parents lived in until about 10 years ago. I’d give them a heads-up when I’d be coming through town, and dad – mom never learned how to drive – would meet me outside the terminal, behind the wheel. I’d pile in to the little green Escort wagon and we’d be off for the house, a quick lunch and a great and timely visit before the dash back to my connection.
I am thinking of all of this now as I sit in the Philadelphia airport, an hour from boarding a connection to San Francisco, one of my top-five places to visit. That could be because my daughter lives there now, although I think it was in the top five anyway. Nonetheless, I haven’t seen her since February, so I plan to royally enjoy the next four days in the Bay Area. Catching up, hanging out – at the Giants-Rockies ballgame tonight, incidentally – just being.
Family. That is what I’m thinking of as I wait. My parents, my daughter’s pop-pop and mom-mom who died in 2008 and 2012, respectively. My two siblings who live not far from here. We have neglected each other. We should correct this. Also nearby, close to that tiny Cape Cod that built me, my nephew and his wife, a week away from being parents themselves for the second time.
I feel I drift too much in this world, untethered and aimless. I occupy far too much of my own headspace. It hurts me and others close to me who don’t deserve the drag of my fears, conceptions and preoccupations.
In an odd bittersweet way, as I sit and watch the people and think, my first pass-through Philadelphia in many years has helped bring me back to the ground. It’s where I have to stay. In my mind, I see my father outside the terminal and my mom busy in the kitchen as we walk through the back door 10 minutes later. She shouts “Tom!” as she always did. They are healthy. They are happy. They are proud of me.
I need to make them proud of me again.