So: time stands still

So after an action-packed 2 days of entertaining pretty pretty princesses, Uncle Bruce and I hopped the Pacific Surfliner to Irvine.

If you’re ever in Southern California and you don’t want to deal with traffic on those infamous freeways, I recommend Amtrak highly. You’ll sit back and relax. You can read. Listen to music. Enjoy refreshments. Treat yourself to stunning ocean and mountain views as the train chugs along. You’ll arrive at your destination and feel like you’ve had a mini-vacation.

Waiting at our destination was our long time pal Shane. Bruce has known Shane slightly longer, although only maybe a year. He is our perpetual bachelor friend, the one with beautiful bikini-clad girlfriends galore. He has many So Cal dude toys like motorcycles and jet skis. He goes to clubs and underground parties. His life is always story-worthy and after dinner with him your stomach hurts from all the laughing you’ll do.

Shane is the reason why Bruce and I met at all. Through a very loose introduction, our Southern California pal gave a guy in Toronto and a gal in Northern California a reason to chat on the phone, write letters and fall in love. If we would have had a best man and maid of honor at our wedding, Shane would have been it.

Bruce met Shane on a Contiki tour of Europe. Yes, the bus tour infamous dragging hungover 18-34 year olds past all the famous sites in record time. Shane and I met at CES when I was working in a booth. He was quite mean to me, trying to stump me with all sorts of technical questions he thought I wouldn’t know (wrong!). He wouldn’t leave me alone, but later sent an apology package filled with t-shirts and stickers from his company.

For a bit more than 20 years, we’ve all been friends. And while its easy to keep in touch via Facebook with pithy comments, photos and likes, it’s not the same as a conversation over dinner.

At Shane’s favorite Thai restaurant we laughed a lot. We talked about how our jobs were going, we heard about Shane’s love life/upcoming guys dirt biking weekend/crazy ex-girlfriends who still pop up from time to time.

And for a moment time stood still. The moment has repeated itself many times over the years. Sometimes all three of us are there. Sometimes it’s just two. But when dinner’s over and the waitress is eager to get us out of there so she can flip the table, it makes me happy that such a random connection endures after all these years. And while I was sad to say goodbye, I know we’ll all see each other again, perhaps randomly while traveling for work or maybe a more lengthy planned visit. With Shane one never knows.

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So: middle seat view

I travel a bit for my job. I love traveling and airports and have since I was a little girl. When I was a kid going to the airport meant either than someone was visiting us (like Grandma and Grandpa) or that we were visiting someone (like Grandma and Grandpa). Or we were moving to somewhere far a way and much more interesting than where we were living.

Airports for me, even with their security checkpoints, expensive food and drink prices, and often grouchy flight attendants (at least on American Airlines which is based in Dallas), are a place of excitement and anticipation. And people watching. Nothing I like better than to observe what’s going on around me.

One business trip last fall, I saw Santa Claus at DFW. No joke. He was in “civilian” clothes: a Christmas themed dress shirt and red tie with a jingle bell necklace for good measure. Not being quick enough on the iphone camera’s draw cost me a shot that would have made many children’s day. Hell, it made me believe too. It makes a good story though.

This trip had no Santa sightings, just very little sleep, lots of delays, a death-defying taxi ride, and very crowded flights. But what days like these teach business travelers is to be grateful for the good things that come to them. Even if they’re little things.

So while I write at 10,000 feet I am grateful for the following:

1. Wifi so I can catch up on work (and today’s post).

2. Being in the middle seat between a snoozing relatively handsome (that’s for you, Kate), reasonably sized man and my snoozing coworker LIsa rather than two large business men that have been working hard all day and are in need of a shower.

3. Getting on the earlier flight and beating the snow storm that is apparently hitting the east coast sometime tonight.

4. Tracy for watching the 3G Network so I didn’t need to worry about them.

5. Not having to be awake from 5 am CT until 1:30 am ET like yesterday.

6. A very hot shower to wake me up this morning after 5 hours of sleep.

7. A fantastic training session complete with a funny attorney.

8. Finishing up the training session early.

9  Being small enough to actually think the middle seat is fine for 3 hours.

10. The improvements made to the Philadelphia airport including the nice little wine bar where we killed a bit of time before the flight.

There’s something magical and transformative about travel. For me it always has the promise of excitement or a funny story to tell afterwards. People to see. New places to explore.

Even last nigh’s “death cab” adds a bit of novelty to this trip. A cab driver who was not only out of touch with his customers (he got out of the cab at one point to talk to his pals), didn’t know where he was going, and drove like a bat out of hell, makes for a tale that can be scaled up or down depending upon your audience.

On Saturday morning I get to do it all over again. But this time, my excitement wil be the excitement i felt as a kid going to visit my grandparents. Except now, I’m the attraction. Oh, and so is Uncle Bruce. We’re going to visit our twin nieces who just turned 3. They just got big girl beds and had a birthday party. They are ready to play Barbies with Uncle Bruce and have a tea party with their company. Maybe they’ll wear princess dresses. Or dig in the dirt. I can’t wait to see their little faces and hear about what’s going on at school.

Oh and it will be nice to see my brother and sister-in-law too.