November 19, 2019

How I Found Myself

“I was on my way home, flying from New York back to Florida. In the heart of Manhattan, I had given a keynote address to a large group of researchers at Rockefeller University. Internationally known neuroscientists, men and women at the top of their field, had been interested in what I had to say. I still couldn’t believe how well it had gone.

When we landed in Tampa, the plane, full of Disney-bound families and snow birds, nosed up to the gate, and I strode down the jet bridge. Confident and successful in my big-city clothes — black boots, black tights, black silk tunic — I followed the stream of passengers ahead of me as we made our way past the gates.

But then I stepped from the monorail into the main terminal, and the passengers dispersed, and I wasn’t sure which way to go. The Tampa airport is my home airport; I’ve been there for dozens of trips. Every single time, I’ve gotten completely turned around.

The airport has a Red side and a Blue side. I’ve never been able to figure out how, exactly, those colors are relevant. It never seems to me like a place with two sides — it’s a place with many, many sides, a maze, in fact, of corridors, construction, escalators, levels, and disjointed, spiraling spaces. I struggle at every step in the process to find the next place I need to be. Where is the baggage claim area? Where is the tram to the terminals?

Dragging my little suitcase, I wandered around, looking for some clue indicating a route to the parking garage, worried that even if I found a parking garage, it might be the wrong one. Did Red/Blue apply to the parking garages? Was there one parking garage? Or two parking garages? More than two? I had no idea.”

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