Saturday, August 9, 2008

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)

July 2006, Heaven on Earth

Going home after Nate and Erin's wedding. Gemma and Keith got me to the airport two hours early thanks to good traffic and Keith's nervous pedal foot.  I have to say, as an aside, that Gemma's superpower is seeing road-side animals.  The amount of wildlife we saw on the drive here, while doing 85 mph, was unbelievable. 

After a quick tour of the old terminal at Detroit, I'm in the only bar in the concourse. I sit and order a pinot noir. In a few moments a gentleman comes in and sits beside me.

"Damn flies!" He says to the bartender, smiling, a huge grin really, and waving his hand around his head.

"I will get them!" The bartender declares holding up his fly-swatter. I had been watching the bartender go after flies since I got here. He and the gentleman have a brief conversation about chasing flies. "Clean!  This is a clean bar!" The bartender cries after missing one. SWAP! "Got it." 

"Flies don't bother me compared to those mosquitos in the north woods.  Big as dinner plates!  And can they bite? Mary and Joseph!" The gentleman beside me says.

I like the use of Mary and Joseph without the traditional "Jesus" beginning, and I smile his way.

"Just been to an AWESOME wedding in the north woods of Michigan," he tells me.

"No kidding!  Me too!" I am genuinely amazed.  I briefly wonder if we were at the same wedding.  I didn't know all of Erin's people, but surely I would recognize him. We begin to chat.  
"Where you headed?" He asks.

"Tucson" I say. 

"Me too!  You from there?"

We have the classic not-quite-a-native conversation about Tucson, and we are suddenly great chums! 

"What are the chances?" I say, but we immediately agree that these kind of synchronicities should be expected.

"It was my son Liberty's wedding," he tells me. "Liberty's an interesting name doncha think?" 

I have to agree that it's not common.

"When Lib was born his mom and I couldn't agree on a name. So I grabbed the biggest book from the bookcase behind my desk and we agreed to ask God to give him a name.  We asked God to give him a name that would keep my son free of the nastiness of the world. When I flipped open the book the first thing I read was the phrase 'sons of liberty.' Then, twice more I laid my finger on the word liberty on different pages.  We decided there was no struggling with fate."

He goes on to tell me that his son's middle name is Robertson.  He waits, clearly wanting me to ask about the significance of Robertson, so I do.

"I'm Robert!" He answers robustly and thrusts his hand forward for a shake.  I ask if his son's middle name really is Robertson for that reason and he says, "Yup."

Robert goes on to tell me that he and his wife had a second son, and when Lib was five and the baby was two, the mother was killed in an automobile accident. His life story continues: He was in the army.  He was a musician and a songwriter. Now he is a caterer.

"I've got my own catering company with some other guys," he tells me, "All started from an experiment to find a fat-free or low-fat cheesecake recipe. I ended up creating one.  Seriously, almost fat free!"

"Wow." I say.

He continues, "My buddy really liked it and the company grew from there."

There is a pause and he asks a few more questions about me and my life.

"When I was a kid there was no diagnosis of ADD or anything like that. No drugs for hyper kids. My poor parents just had to put up with me!" He laughs from the middle of his chest.  Loud and deep. I can suddenly imagine him on stage. "My parents tried special diets and vitamins, but I'm just hyper, you know."

I nod.

"The wedding was awesome."  He's staring at the bottles behind the bar. "Man, it was great. I put on this cape and danced as James Brown on the dance floor. I DANCED! Me and Lib, we were the first ones dancing and last ones off the floor."  He tells me that Lib lives in Phoenix, and among other things, he has an internet radio station of '70's funk music. "He has some collection of funk.  Some rare stuff." Robert raises his eyebrows and his forehead crinkles.  I am suddenly touched by how much he loves Lib.  Something in his eyes made me almost want to cry.

Robert tells me many more things about this life.  The amazing thing about his undiagnosed ADD is it gives him the ability to talk, almost monologue.  He completely mesmerizes me. I feel like I say barely a word and yet I'm fully part of the conversation.

He tells me about the religion he subscribes to.  Started by some guy (He told me the name, but I forget) who is responsible for many things in our world today (He gave me examples, but I forget.).

"It's totally nonjudgmental," he says, "and there's a church in Tucson."

I nod.

"You know, I really believe this: Heaven is now.  You have to experience some hell on earth to appreciate heaven.  Hell is now too. But it all depends on you.  If you can find heaven on earth, then there is more heaven to follow. You gotta enjoy it."

That made a lot sense to me.