About Me

My photo

Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 61 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home**

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

*Somerset Daily American
August 27, 2011
as "Not new for long"

*Chicago Tribune
August 26, 2011
as "Not new for long"

Human beings are wonderfully adaptive creatures. When confronted by new situations and environments it’s amazing how quickly the new becomes routine.


I take occasional business trips, going to such wildly exotic places as Fresno, California.  Now, these aren’t vacation destinations (and who in their right mind would want to vacation in Fresno?), they are full workdays.

The first day, everything is brand-new, from the airport, the rental car, the hotel room, and wherever the business at hand takes place.  But surprisingly, it doesn’t take long for the new to become old, the strange to become familiar, the different to become routine. 

Airports look the same. The gates and wide concourses lined by various shops, eateries, and kiosks. It’s always a hike from the gate to baggage claim. But after several hours in a cramped seat, exercise is a good thing, especially for us in the blood clot age group.

As often as I’ve flown, my bags have never been the first ones to hit the carousel. In fact, I noticed that the first ones down the chute are usually the last ones to be picked up. I remember one trip to Dallas when my bag was the third one to arrive. It was like winning the lottery.

Next stop is the rental car counter. The agent, while getting your subcompact, tries to talk you into a Hummer. Finally though, you walk out to the garage, and climb into “your” car. For men, that moment when we take that first lungful of “new car smell” just makes the world a bit more exciting. At first, you drive gingerly, getting the feel for how it handles, accelerates. You take a few moments to note all the neat doo-dads and gew-gaws in the new ride.

These are unfamiliar roads, so you take it easy. These drivers have different habits from the ones around home, so you watch them carefully.

Pulling into the hotel, you’re embraced by the American hospitality industry. Their whole mission in life is to spoil you rotten so that you’ll want to go back (even to Fresno). You check in, grab the key card and soon find yourself standing in front of a door with a number. This is now “my room.” Doesn’t matter that I don’t own anything in it, it’s still “mine, all mine.” Opening the door, I administer the sniff test.

Of all the senses, smell is one of the most sensitive and telling. Dogs know this fact well, if perhaps too intimately. That first snootful will tell you volumes about cleanliness, and is this truly a non-smoking room. Once inside, I always go to the window and check out the view. I’m not sure why I do this, except that it may be my first real look at the city. After my clothes are put away, the sense of ownership is complete.

Then, I go to work.

After a very busy and stressful day, I look forward to that moment when I can return to “my” room and relax. It feels homey, although I don’t have to mow the lawn or take out the garbage. I can make it as cool or warm as I want without stressing over the utility bill.  And I am the absolute master of the remote control.

But after a few days, the room seems cramped. The cable doesn’t have enough channels. A late-night snack involves getting dressed and going out in public. The restaurants are getting old.

And you miss your family.

So it is with great joy when the business is finally done that you grab your gear, board the plane, and fly home.

Yes, it’s another airport, but it’s the home airport. Out in long-term parking, your car has been patiently waiting for your return. It’s not as clean, and the new-car smell is long gone, but the seat is comfy and the radio is already on your favorite station.  The roads are familiar, the city well-known, though you look eagerly for what may have changed.

Finally, you open the front door and cross the threshold of home. The smells are familiar,  even comforting. Your family is glad to see you, and even the dog is celebrating. Over there, is your TV with all of its channels and DVDs. And the fridge is just steps away.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to travel, and going to new places is exciting. But as Dorothy from Kansas once said, “There’s no place like home.”


Post a Comment