Just returned from a quick trip to Detroit, doing some consulting work. I wondered how long it would take before "home" stopped feeling like home, and I found out on this trip. From the moment I was walking through the airport, things felt weird. I can't put my finger on it, but it seemed less familiar even though nothing in the appearance of the place had changed. Driving to Warren, I took note of the lack of trees compared to here, the number of people smoking in their cars compared to here, the lack of people exercising compared to here, and on it goes. The grid streets that exhibit careful planning but lack any quaintness or character. The whole thing just seemed foreign.
I got the chance to watch my nephew play waterpolo. A completely undecipherable game. No idea what was going on, outside of the goals. I can tell that water polo referee seems like a pretty good job. Basically stand in one place, blow a whistle, and make hand signals that no one understands. No one can get in your face to complain about a call because they are in the water. Plus yelling and treading water at the same time takes too much energy.
Went to the Olive Garden. Endless salad and endless pasta. Only problem is, endless amount of lousy food doesn't make it a better dining experience. The highlight of the night was the guy with the cigarette in his ear. I don't know why it was in his ear. Could be his lucky cigarette. Might be whispering things to him. Could be his way of saying to the world, "Even though I am sitting in the non-smoking section, I am in fact a proud smoker and sit here under protest." Hard to say what it meant, but this is another way to divide up the world: people who would wear a cigarette in their ear and those who would not. Now, I have known people who have worn cigarettes in their ear. I have enjoyed their company and some have been wonderful conversationalists, spinning yarns of how many people per cell at the county lockup, best remedies for persistent unemployment, and their views on matters of public policy. But, in this instance, the cigarette-in-the-ear guy just was a symbolic exclamation point on my trip back to Detroit.