I was traveling last week. I haven’t travelled alone in years. With my parents living in a different state, I have done my fair share of traveling. I have driven across country alone and flown so many times I’ve lost count. The last few trips we’ve made were with the girls, which is always horrible the only question is to what degree. I did appreciate traveling alone. Even security in Orlando was… No Orlando security is crap. It has always been a pain but now it is nearly unbearable. It is so bad I sometimes wonder if we are on a TV show or taking part in some experiment devised by the military. Some crazy MKUltra type stuff.
I was looking forward to the trip. I have only spent a couple nights away from my girls since they were born, and I don’t mean “a couple” as a vague way of saying 3-5, I mean 2. I don’t get alone time. Most visits to the bathroom end with small hands pounding on the door and questions of, “Daddy? What are you doing? Daddy?”
Before the trip I cleaned up my iPod and filled it with The Black Tapes Podcast. A website I frequent had an article about how after 3 years the podcast was coming to an end. I didn’t read any more of the article but instead downloaded the entire series and put it on my iPod. I also added a few of my other favorites like Mysterious Universe and Last Podcast on the Left.
I sailed through security and after putting my shoes and belt back on, I put on my big “leave me alone” headphones and started in on the Black Tapes Podcast. The podcast is stylized like Serial, they even refer to it at one point. The first couple episodes are interesting but they feel incomplete. After listening to a few more episodes, the narrative starts to gel and the first few start to make more sense. I listened to episode after episode until I landed in Florida where I found I had already completed the first season. I listen to the podcast Mysterious Universe. I get the distinct impression the creators of The Black Tapes are fans of the podcast too because most of the subject matter is similar. I don’t mean they stole anything. It just seemed like they were listing to Mysterious Universe episodes and going, “That’s good. Oh, I like that. We can add some of that…” and then constructed a narrative around the creepy stories and folklore.
When I got to the hotel I immediately rushed to join the seminars. My first day was packed and I skipped lunch to go to my room to take a shower and change my clothes. I felt a bit better but I started getting a nagging feeling, like something was bothering me. I finished up my classes and joined the opening reception where I met a bunch of different people and started to get a feel for what was to come.
After the reception I found myself alone at one of the hotel’s bars. It was really hard to find a decent beer. I actually met a couple of guys from Madison, WI who were complaining about the same thing. As I had a drink, I realized what was bugging me. I missed my wife and girls. I mean, profoundly missed them. I wasn’t even gone a full day and I was almost consumed in a fog of depression. I called and talked to them, which didn’t really help. I just missed them more. So I had another over priced but really good bourbon and went on a run.
The hotel was situated on a golf course, full of well kept paths, so I was able to wear my big headphones, run and zone out without worry of getting hit by cars. I occasionally passed other runners and walkers and every time I jumped, one time I even let out a little squeal. The woman that scared me got a good laugh out of that. The whole time I ran I listened to the podcast taking in the whole story. I carved out running time for the rest of the conference which helped my mood and kept me focused. The pool was beautiful but sadly I never made it in.
The conference went really well and I made it home safely. Things are getting back to normal and I caught up on The Black Tapes just in time to download the final episode. I don’t want to say I didn’t like the podcast because I did, but it had alot in common with my trip. While it was entertaining and I got alot out of it, it just seemed like something was missing. The story is over but it doesn’t seem complete. I almost feel like I missed something. I listened to it twice and while I understand their choices, it seems like a bit of a cop out. The podcast ended alot like it started, leaving me feeling like, “Shouldn’t there be more?” Maybe there isn’t. I had a good time at the conference. I learned so much, but I feel like there is no need to go back, at least for a few years. Something was missing and I wonder if some of the other people felt the same way? There were parties every night and there were people having fun but there wasn’t any mirth. Does that make sense? The podcast seemed to be fun and interesting but at the end it was just missing the underlying substance that was eluded to.
I had a good time in Florida. I learned so much and met some really amazing people. I even got to spend the day with my Mom and Dad. The time I spent with them was so great that it threw the rest of the trip into sharp relief. While I did some great things, I missed sharing them with the people I love. When I went out for a really great dinner, I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about it. Just thinking about how I was going to describe it to her made me enjoy it even more. It was like I had to experience it for both of us and share it with her.