Sadly, that fate was not shared by my pillow and some of my clothes.
While I was in New Jersey, I got an email from my lovely wife explaining that my lovely son had been taken to the lovely hospital for lung x-rays. He had a lovely case of pneumonia.
This, I freely admit, upset me a bit.
I woke up very early the next day (like 3:30 early) and decided to just hit the road and get home. It seemed a wiser option than sitting in my hotel room, staring at the ceiling and listening to the roar of the traffic racing by.
I staggered blearily around my hotel room, showered, packed up my stuff and ran a large armload of my belongings out to my car. While there, I saw something shiny and got distracted.
I wandered over to the Dunkin Donuts, conveniently located in the scenic parking lot of my hotel, and entered its sacred coffee-infused walls. The clerk behind the counter was Indian and didn't seem to have a firm grasp on conversational English yet.
"Do you have vanilla coffee made?" I asked, seeking a whimsical, flavor-filled change in my coffee drinking experiences.
The clerk looked at me, obviously not understanding the question.
"Baniya?" he asked.
"Vanilla," I nodded, "Yes, do you have any vanilla coffee?"
He stared for a moment longer and then his face broke out into a radiant smile.
"Ahhh!" he said, "Medium french baniya, cream sugar!"
"That's it!" I cried, marveling at his psychic ability to penetrate my unkempt exterior and discern my innermost desires.
He handed me my coffee and I made my way back toward my car, marveling at the fact that he had learned English based entirely on the Dunkin Donuts menu items and how the majority of customers preferred them.
I was impressed. Thrust into the streets of Calcutta or Agra or Bombay, I doubted that I would have fared as well as he had.
I hopped into my car and sped off into the night, completely forgetting about the second load of belongings that sat in my hotel room, gathering up toxic levels of hotel carpet stink that I'm certain will render my pillow unusable for several washings.
I arrived home to find Alex doing better. My joy at that news was tempered slightly by the fact that I only then realized that I had forgotten all my stuff in New Jersey.
A quick call to the hotel confirmed that they would be delighted to do absolutely nothing to help me get my stuff back.
"Uhhh, I'd have to talk to the manager about sending it back to you, but I don't really think that's gonna happen."
Thanks Motel 6!
I sent a rather panicky and completely humiliating email to Cindy, the lady who had arranged my visit to New Jersey, asking her if she could possibly go to the hotel and grab my pillow–the one with the dirty socks and undies stuffed in the pillow case–and mail it up to me.
She agreed to undertake this odious task and I will forever be in her debt.
For the past week, I have been visiting schools from Massachusetts to the White Mountains. It's been fun, but exhausting. Every school is different and I never know what to expect when I arrive. This keeps me on my toes and in a perpetual state of near paranoid alertness.
At Fuller Meadow School, I was treated to delicious lunches (Candi, the coordinator, had read my blog entry asking that I not be served Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots) and, as if that weren't enough, she sent me home with two half gallons of delicious ice cream from the ice cream stand across the street.
My trip to Campton Elementary, way up north in New Hampshire began with a presentation to the 7th and 8th graders who, I was warned, might try to kill me and eat me.
Adults, as a rule, are terrified of 7th and 8th graders. Mostly with good reason, I imagine. But my visit with them was delightful. They were fun and enthusiastic and did not throw rocks at me or try to eat me. What's funny is that I gave almost exactly the same presentation that I normally do for 4th graders. It went very well, as did the rest of the day.
The only slight glitch in the day was the last presentation I gave to the Kindergarten, first, and second grades. It appeared that some poor child was suffering from some sort of gastro-intestinal distress and kept farting throughout my presentation. The child had the uncanny ability to time his farts to whenever I paused for dramatic effect.
"And then..." I paused, savoring the magical moment of silence. And when I opened my mouth to continue...
It was very amusing for everyone.
Tomorrow I head off to Portland, Maine for three days of school visits. I'm looking forward to this trip a lot because my good friend Amy lives up there and she claims to possess knowledge of the whereabouts of an excellent Thai restaurant.
And I know that, as I have yet to get my pillow back from New Jersey, there is no way I can leave it at the hotel this time.