Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bits & Pieces from my Month Overseas, No. 4

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.  Like the littlest pig.

By the end of the conference, I was feeling pretty good.  I’d spoken to several McFamouspants and had asked some questions during the talks that had drawn murmurs of agreement from others in the audience.  It had been a productive week, but it wasn’t over yet.  There was one more lab visit yet to go.

The lab in Buffalo had a very different feel from the one in Montreal.  It was much smaller, friendlier and more relaxed.  We chatted for a while about our research and the conference in Rochester, which most of us had attended, then ordered pizza.  After lunch, I tested out some of their experiments and was able to collect some data from them.  At the end of the day, a few of us headed out to dinner at a place on Main Street.

Then I drove home.  Home, but not home.  I was staying at my friend Pam’s house.  Do you know how strange it is to pass the house in which you were raised and not be able to go in?  It’s strange.

At this stage, I was stuffed, as they say down here.  Pretending to be intelligent is exhausting work, and I’d been at it for over a week.  I could not have been any more eager to kick it in Tonawanda with my old friends, where nothing more intellectually demanding than using the right names for the animals at the zoo would be expected of me.  I was so excited about how relaxing it was going to be that I woke up at 7:00 the next morning and had put in a few hours of work before anyone else made an appearance.  

Packing everything I love about Buffalo into four days would have been impossible, but we made a serious dent.  We started by raiding Barnes and Noble.  Brand new books, for less than what I would pay for them at a used bookstore in Sydney!  Next we hit up the Erie County Fair, where, in the spirit of all things American, I feasted on pulled pork and deep-fried Oreos (recorded on camera for my Aussie friends to see). We also ran around in inflatable, floating hamster balls…  

(Thousands of Australian taxpayer dollars right there.)

We went to Fantasy Island, where I was super brave and went on the waterslides, which weren’t as horrible as I thought they would be.  We played street hockey, rode bikes and went swimming.  We had ice cream at Anderson’s, another round of wings at the original Anchor Bar, delicious Ted’s hot dogs, and pancakes and bacon at Denny’s.  We went to the zoo and I did use all the right animal names.

Though the food was excellent, the prices incredible and the sky blue, what I loved most was what happened when I walked around my old neighbourhood.  Periodically someone would be out mowing their lawn; I’d pause, they’d look up, and then there’d be this look of shock and a great big smile.  “Laura Bishop,” they would say, “is that you?”

I know it won’t last forever, but it’s nice to know that for now, there’s still a little pocket of the world where people know me and things are plodding on just as they always have.  A part of me is still there, in a way: my lovely piano, still singing away at Deerhurst Church and waiting for my next visit.  Now that I was only just there, it doesn't even seem that far away.

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