Finally getting to the long promised story of my trip to California. You were warned. [grin]
It all started months ago when my sister sent me tickets for the airfare. She'd always wanted to do that, but I'd never before agreed to fly... but I had a 2 1/2 year old grandson I'd never seen, and wanted badly to reconnect with my two sons, so I bit the proverbial bullet and accepted.
Not having flown at all since 2000, I had only the scary and infuriating stories of TSA goons and airport nightmares to anticipate, but determined to keep my mouth shut and endure it, even if I had to wear duct tape over my mouth in the process. Can't tell you why, but this time I just HAD to go.
The most difficult part actually wasn't the TSA itself, but the absolute requirement that I disarm for the whole trip. Since I couldn't carry in California, there was no point in jumping through the hoops to take my pistol and, after 4 years of carrying one, it was wrenching (to say the least) to contemplate going around "socially naked." That is bad enough here in relatively crime free Wyoming, but to think of being unarmed anywhere near the gangs and assorted criminals that roam Southern California was not at all pleasant. Remember that there is not a square inch of the earth where the risk of attack is ZERO, but to move from the frying pan into the fire gives one pause, if nothing else.
And no, I'm not "afraid" to go unarmed, or super paranoid, or any of the rest of the usual accusations... I am, however, PERSONALLY responsible for my own life and safety - first and foremost. I cannot ethically fob off that task on anyone else, though I am happy to share it with those I trust.
So, after making the difficult decision to leave my gun and my car with a friend in Colorado, I had to grit my teeth and do the best I could. She dropped me off at the airport, and I survived the TSA without so much as a sour look. Walking in my stocking feet on the filthy floor so they could "scan" my shoes was about the worst part. The whole process seems well geared to make everyone as humiliated as possible, but people have either gotten used to it and can ignore it - or they are good at hiding it. There were even smiles and agreeing nods as I griped (very softly) about the shoes...
But the most amazing thing to watch was the change in how people communicate. Always before I'd spend the waiting time talking to people from all over the world and watch them talk to each other. This time, most of the people were either talking on a cell phone, texting or working at a computer! In addition, it was obvious that neither the airports nor the airplanes were nearly as full as they used to be. Lots of changes.
Remember that I had lived in Southern California for 59 years! I lived and worked all over the Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside area. Yet when the airplane came into LAX, I was stunned at how crowded together the houses were! I KNOW that there are many places with far more people, living far closer together, but the sight was mind boggling anyway. I had not seen LA from the air since 1987.
After landing, I remarked to a fellow passenger that the airport alone probably held more people than lived in my whole state! Sadly, I don't think she had any idea where Wyoming is or anything about it. She was fairly young, and I hear they don't teach geography in "schools" anymore. Sad.
I had to take a bus to get to where my sister would pick me up, and I sincerely never want to be in Los Angeles traffic again! How quickly we forget. Rush hour in my little town here is two cars coming to the same corner and the two drivers waving and smiling. 2 P.M. on the interstate 5 in Los Angeles looked like all the cars in the world on the move. And all of the drivers quite insane!
I survived the airports, the TSA and the freeway bus trip. Whew! I still felt naked... and found myself patting my belt over and over because I would forget why I felt so strange...
The visits with old friends and family sped by incredibly fast, and there wasn't much time for anything else. I had a great time with my grandchildren, and not nearly enough conversation with my sons. They are both very interested in coming to live in Wyoming, and at least the oldest will visit in the spring. The younger one has a number of large roadblocks to clear, but when that happens he'll come regardless of the season.
Suddenly it was time to come home. HOME!! Seems I must have shared with you at some point the fact that, after coming to Wyoming, I discovered that I had never before really had a HOME. I never really belonged anywhere but here, and no other place can ever be home for me. I can't describe the feeling I had when the airplane finally took off. And when I drove my car across the state line after leaving Colorado, my heart swelled inside near to bursting. I experience that thrill every time I cross the line into Wyoming, the deep joy of coming HOME - even though it might be another few hundred miles to my door. And that happens even in the dark, when someone else is driving and I've been asleep.
So, it was very good to go, and I'm glad I went. But I'm very, very glad to be home. And it's very good no longer to be socially naked either. :)