Ten days ago I arrived in Houston expecting that the highlight of my trip would be the visit of someone from San Antonio and another from Atlanta. Both of them stood me up - or rather, both got sick by thought of having to pay me a visit. (I'd like to think that they were truly ill, as they had claimed.) Instead, the highlight of my trip was sightreading piano duo music with a retired pianist in River Oaks.
Even today, I was at the music shop buying more piano duo music. I learned that it's called "duo" if it's two instruments, otherwise it's called a "duet". We had played Faure's Ballade, Brahm's Piano Quintet arranged for 2 pianos, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, and Saint Saens. I am only just discovering the vast repertoire.
I managed to find fifteen minutes in the afternoon to swim in the Bali-like pool of my temporary apartment complex. It was refreshing in the hot sun. But time was pressing on - by the time I left for the airport, I was starting to panic.
I was the only one at the airport wearing just a sports bra and shorts. I didn't notice this until the ticketing agent looked at me and said that I'd get cold on the plane. My right foot was hurting and I couldn't walk fast. So it was a relief that she discovered that my flight was going to be two hours late. The incoming direct flight from Paris had to be diverted to Bangor, Maine because of some unruly passenger.
With more than three hours to kill, I wandered through the shops. Buying and sending postcards before I leave is a hard habit to break. Yet when I discovered that all postboxes had been removed, I became quite concerned. Were they removed because of the anthrax scare or because of construction works? The store owners were not helpful. One offered to take my postcards home and mail them. Then he took back his statements and said that he was afraid someone would videotape our conversation and he'd get into trouble. I shook my head in disbelief.
For the first time in my travels in the US, the airline gave us an $8 meal voucher (but not for alcoholic beverages) and a care package consisting of a free 50-minute domestic telephone card. The airlines must really be desperate if they're acting nice.
I went over to the bar and sat next to a Russian petroleum engineer who bought me a drink. Drowning himself in double vodkas, he tried to convince me to do the same. He admitted that he was scared to death of getting on that plane. When he asked me to join him outside for a smoke, I politely declined. I told him that I was scared to death of getting cancer from inhaling cigarette smoke.
20 October 2001 Saturday