Too much to talk about in a single post. So look for three. Or four. Or more. Throughout the week.

Springfield Regional Airport is sleek and new. And of an entirely manageable size. Even when it’s full, it’s not-so-much. And at 6:30 A.M., it’s even more manageable.

Watched the sun come up. Sat quietly. Made notes in the notebook for the book. I’d brought the new, unsullied one as well; this one is nigh well filled. Hour flight to Chicago, then off for Newark (the closer airport to Belinda’s place.)

Chicago is a little nutsier. A lot more unpleasant. Always was. It’s like training for New York City. One chooses to go Zen there, or  go crazy. The NY-bound plane was one of those smaller, cramped things. But in a one-across seat, not so bad.

A two-hour flight of notetaking. iPod music. And spectacular fall foliage out the windows. It was as if someone had pulled up all the NY grey while I was away and planted trees (like the Talking Heads song, “Nothing But Flowers.”) Then NY asserted itself. There it was, after 8 years away.

Books were a theme in the airports. Actively read or clutched in the hands or waiting travelers as if they were talismen against boredom or bad travel (which they are.) And my book. In Belinda’s hands as she waited at the greeting gate at Newark. Printed out and being actively read as I approached…so much so that she didn’t notice me at first. A very, very good sign.

New York. A sky of supernatural blue. October-hearty clouds. A brisk breeze that had taken the city smog in hand and led it away. A skyline view from Belinda’s apartment’s public space that took the breath. A high-rise living space filled with light and the illusion of privacy, even surrounded as it is by tall buildings. A constant parade of helicopters up and down the Hudson River. A different view of the city that, for so many years, I called Home.

And Belinda. One of my dearest friends of longest tenure. From Rugby, UK, and of British accent and habits undiminished. Smart as getout. Funny and frank as hell. Huge-hearted and warm as sunshine. Takes no prisoners—a woman whose disapproval I would not like to earn, and never have. I adore her, my partner in crime.

We went nowhere that first afternoon-to-evening. Didn’t need to. Drank Pernod and seltzer. Ate olives with rosemary. And cheese. Sat on the terrace in the sunshine amidst her well-loved plants. Talked books; was invited to read a chapter of Spiritkeeper aloud. Did. And, as the sun went down, filling the apartment with reflected night, an extraordinary supper. She apologized for “keeping me prisoner” of conversation. I was exactly where I wanted to be. We filled up the absences. We realized again, for the billionth time, the value of the company we’d missed.

Went to be a little early—by both NY standards and mine. Wanted to be ready to do some serious damage in NY the next day. And did.

And that’s the next installment. Damage in NY. Lunch with my ex-publisher and dear friend. Warbler-mania on Fifth Avenue. The temple of books—with a most unexpected approach. More tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. (I warned you….)  Stay tuned.

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