While I Was Away…

Sometimes, when I’m gone for a long time like I was on this past trip, it feels as though time has stood still. This time was no different. I had that same ominous feeling, but indeed the world had moved on, as did time. While I was away, the mail had accumulated in my tiny box to a point where it was poised to pounce on the very next person to insert the key and give that quarter turn to the right.

Also while I was away, somebody moved into the unit across the hall. I have no idea who they are, but they were having some furniture delivered today, so it must be true. I’m kind of sad about not having this whole end of the hallway to myself anymore. It made my humble abode seem like it had such a grand entrance, the way one of those big wrap around driveways that wind their way in front of a big house adds a sense of regality to that domicile. Oh well, it was a nice run, but it was bound to happen. This developer had to sell that unit sooner or later. It would be nice if this new, extra head could “put-in” on these HOA fees and reduce my cut, but that’s not going to happen.

While I was away I gained no weight, which was a pretty remarkable feat considering the fancy five star restaurants I was dining in by night, and the hearty plates of food I was consuming at the half-star establishments by day. Work had me so thoroughly within its throws that I made it to the hotel gym just once during my 10-day stay. But, I stayed true to the game and did some pushups and sit-ups shortly after the wake-up call each morning, so I was able to maintain.

I found out that the Boston Celtics made it to the NBA Finals while I was away. They let themselves get roughed up by the Hawks and the Cavaliers along the way, but they worked it out. I had to read about it online though, because ESPN Deportes was showing the match between Argentina’s Boca Juniors and Brazil’s Fluminense that played to a 2-2 tie. I can’t lie, I was pretty interested in the futbol after a day or two when I gave up feeling like I would never survive missing a whole week of NBA Playoff games. It turned out to only be 2 games that I missed since the Finals started a week later when I was on my way home, and I caught the last 5 minutes of the game when I landed at LAX.

While I was away, my fair City of Oakland, CA recorded its 56th homicide of the year, as an aspiring rapper called Pretty Black was cut down while visiting family not far from where I go to church. Last year at this time, there were only 40. Sadly, this is the sort of dubious “accomplishment” that a city with a shortage of police officers is forced to live with and the news media loves it. With a mere 18 police officers for every 10,000 residents, it’s no surprise that Oakland has a problem getting a handle on its violent crime. But are we really forced to just accept this? Granted it was a bit extreme, but the show of force in Bogota sure seemed to have had a profound effect on crime in that city.

Gas prices went up about 40 cents while I was away. I couldn’t believe it either. Well, I mean I could, but…. I was not terribly alert as I got on the freeway after a day filled with hours and hours of delays and a flight cancellation, but I could not help but notice the $4.69 price for regular (!) unleaded gasoline. When I turned on the TV this morning I saw the “breaking news” that oil had spiked a whole $12 in the last 24 hours to $139/ barrel. Somehow, OPEC can still make the claim that there is no shortage of supply. Despite the fact that the conventional wisdom from my 12th grade economics class tells me otherwise, I think I believe them. Such is life for a nation whose lame-duck leader is also an oil man.

Not everything that happened while I was away was bad. One day before I returned, I awoke in my 5th floor hotel suite to turn on the television and find out that Senator Barack Obama had finally clinched the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Seated on the edge of the bed I jumped up (the same way I would when KG dunked on Gasol in the 4th quarter of game 1 the next night) as CNN en Espanol’s Patricia Janiot articulated the headline to me as all at once my Spanish comprehension improved by leaps and bounds. I opened the drapes and discovered that for the first day since I had been there, the sun was in plain view with only some very wispy, scattered clouds obscuring an otherwise very “high-definition” blue sky. Coincidence? I think not.

Destah Owens is a single father of two from Northern California and proud UCLA Bruin who travels the world for his job as a computer engineer. His blog, “Souffles in Saigon” is exclusive to Urban Thought Collective