I write this from my comfortable perch in the United Club, a somewhat-secret (to me until now) quiet space in the noisy Chicago airport that I’m visiting, thanks to the mysterious passes that arrived in the mail. Here I’m delighting over the free magazines, drinks, treats, and the two Jewish guys from New York I met today. Being a Jewish gal from Brooklyn, I’m thrilled to be escorted from the Goddard residency in Vermont to life in Kansas by people who speak my language.
The first guy was my taxi driver. Within 10 seconds of hearing him speak, I had to ask, “You from New York?” From there, we talked Brooklyn neighborhoods, which high school he went to and I would have gone to had my family not fled to New Jersey, and his astonishing tale of being somewhat radical at a Utah university in the late 1960s (a story that involved jail time, a campus-wide water fight, a kindly judge, and a big steak dinner before getting on the plane back to Brooklyn).
The second guy was my seat companion on the flight from Burlington to Chicago. An accomplished pianist and retired physician, he has a vivid love of fiction and poetry, a 52-year-old marriage, a deep understanding of the environmental causes of many cancers, and a love of life in San Francisco.
But I tell you, just hearing anyone speak with a New York accent, or New Jersey accent (which is different than a New York accent, and never entails saying Jois-y), is a balm for my sleep-deprived state born of 10 days of going hard (and trying to stay smart) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later.
Well-fed (I recommend the Chinois Chicken salad at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant upstairs in terminal B), comfortable and thinking fondly of my package of shortbread cookies, thanks to this club, I’m deeply grateful for the rare stretches when travel goes well, and for the new friends from the old ‘hood.