Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Texas Hold 'Em

For what feels like a lifetime, I've been flying from west to east at the end of any given trip, losing daylight.  That's what happens when you fly east; the hours slip away right before your eyes, the sun setting over the horizon as you watch clouds turn gold and then pink in a higher level of atmosphere.  There's this sad little moment before landing when the city you call home presents itself, a matrix of lights beneath plane wings and the gravity of home hits.  Here you are.  Wherever you were was yesterday.  Now you are home.  

I spent a lot of time in airports growing up and I remember those dark flights home on Sunday evenings, wishing for a plane delay or cancellation, some finite extension of my trip.  I'm not sure that feeling ever really goes away.  No matter how much we long for home, doesn't a part of us always want the sunset to last a little bit longer, before we hit the final time zone of our destination?

It wasn't dark yet when I landed in Texas yesterday afternoon.  I had the best kind of layover, the kind that merely requires the collecting of one's things and the immediate departure from another gate.  My gate of arrival was C2 and my new gate of departure was C20, a miracle in Dallas-Fort Worth, where terminals can fall in four quadrants and require a light rail to get to.  
But I had a short walk in front of me, about seven minutes total from where I landed from Phoenix to where I would depart to New York.  In that seven minutes or so, I passed the following eateries: 

2 McDonald's
1 Taco Bell
1 Wendy's
1 Chili's
1 TGI Friday's
2 Pizza Huts
3 Starbucks
1 Texas rib joint
1 Blimpie
4 Magazine/Candy stores

Of these fine establishments, exactly two sold fresh fruit (well, I'm not sure how fresh, but anyway) and very few offered the kind of food I'm used to eating: unprocessed.  I made my first ever stop to a Blimpie, figuring I could get a sandwich on whole-wheat, and I did, but I'm pretty sure the bread was just white bread dyed brown.  

Texas is home to eight of the most overweight cities in the country and Houston is the second most obese city in the nation.  People drive everywhere and even in the airport a person can't get from destination point A to point B without encountering a million saturated fat temptations.  New Yorkers may have scoffed when a bill was passed last year requiring all fast food restaurants to post their calorie counts next to their selections, but it seems to me that a state like Texas, where the options range from pizza to burgers, would benefit from such legislation.  At least that way people would have no one to blame but themselves when they put on weight from a 1,200 calorie lunch. 

When I finished my disgusting sandwich, it was time to go home, and even though I was sad about that darkness creeping up as the plane headed east, the ultimate reminder that my trip had ended, I wouldn't have wanted to spend much more time in Texas.  When the lights of New York appeared beneath our plane, I was swallowed by the elusive sense of relief one seldom feels when home is near.  

1 comment:

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