Or not. My return trip from my adventure in Fayetteville ended up taking much longer than I expected due to phantom fires, flat tires, and other unexplained delays that left me plenty of time to read in the Raleigh airport. I drove up to Raleigh from F’ville with plenty of time to spare, dropped off my rental car, and settled in for an anticipated quick read while waiting to board the plane. My fellow passengers and I board teh first plane, and just as we’re about to take off (or so it seems), the plane slowly grounds to a stop. I tentatively look up from my book to see our airplane surrounded by fire engines and security people, but my book, Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country, is a pretty good read (I particularly like his illustrations), so I don’t pay that much attention until the pilot announces that a fire has been detected in the cargo section of the plane. “We don’t believe there is a fire,” he adds. “But we have to check things out anyway. There appears to be some smoke, but that’s probably just from the fire extinguisher.” There was no fire, but we were compelled to change planes. We climb of the plane, back into the terminal, and wait.
I finish the Vonnegut book, which is a god read, if a little short (I started reading it that morning at the F’ville Barnes and Noble). I move on to my second book, Alberto Fuguet’s The Movies of My Life: A Novel, a coming-of-age story narrated by an adult seismologist, Beltran, about the movies that most shaped his childhood, which was divided between Los Angeles and Santiago, Chile. Some of the connections between movies and the narrator’s life were a bit heavy-handed, but the novel is a fun read, a playful take on popular culture and personality. One of the framing devices for the novel: Beltran mentions that his grandfather gave him a copy of David Wallechincky and Amy Wallace’s Book of LIsts (the 1976 edition, I’m not sure if this is the right one), a book that I also cherished as a trivia- and knowledge-obsessed kid. The list format works pretty well and Fuguet effectively depicts how Beltran was affected by American popular culture (most of the films he lists are made by Hollywood studios). Of course it reminded me of blogging and my own compulsion to review and list every film I’ve seen, but we won’t get into that.
While I’m reading Movies, arrangements are made to put us into a second plane scehduled to land in DC. The second plane has a flat tire or something. At any rate, a tire needs changing. Our flight is delayed yet again. I finish my second book. I contemplate going to buy others but am afraid of being left stranded in the Raleigh airport while my fellow passengers find their way back to DC. Instead I start back on Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead, which I believe is the last book Jacobs published. In the book, Jacobs describes a process of “decay” in five major “pillars” of society: family, education, community, science, and self-policing in the professions. Jacobs manages to avoid making her book read as a jeremiad, but the book is a sobering read nonetheless.
But it’s difficult not to think about Jacobs’ arguments about urban planning as I exchange life in DC for life in F’ville. I had hoped to avoid living in one of those cookie-cutter complexes, but in a town such as Fayetteville, there simply aren’t enough of those apartments available, the downtown still too small and undeveloped. In fact, it had been abandoned for some time, though it was showing signs of life when I walked around there the other morning. Developers are planning to build some loft apartments. Hopefully when that happens even more businesses, especially local businesses, will find their way downtown. I finished the Jacobs book around the time I stepped off the subway in Hyattsville (at least the trains were running on time), and while the delays were annoying, I think the airline handled things well enough. But, yeah, it was a long day, much longer than I’d expected.