Saturday, February 15, 2020

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Sometimes things just go smoothly, like a jazz band being gifted with a particularly swingin’ groove when every note holds in place. Like yesterday. The Singapore hotel graciously agreed to extend check-out time to 6 pm, allowing me the full day to swim, wander and pack. My generous host, Paul Grosse, rode to the airport with me in the taxi and we had a most lovely and delicious dinner at an airport restaurant so tastefully decorated with equally tasty variations of prawns and tofu over red rice. Checked in my bags without waiting in line, went straight to the gate and through another line-less security, checked in at the desk to see if I may have been called for the Business Class upgrade. Earlier that day, I found out there were 9 seats available and I was number 8 on the waiting list. The woman checked and said that now I was number 1 on the waiting list, meaning the other seats had been filled, but if one person failed to show, up I went.

That seemed like a hiccup in my flawless day, but fact is that though the upgrade never happened, my window Economy Plus seat next to a short woman with narrow shoulders ended up being just fine and I didn’t have to use up my miles or pay the additional proposed fee. Instead of a 14-hour grueling survival test, I simply had a triple-feature movie and lucked out on three great films interrupted by some okay sleep. 

The first was House with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler and it was a typical American zany over-the-top comedy, but hey, with those two, you can’t go too wrong and it didn’t. Next was Late Night with Emma Thompson and that was truly excellent, a little reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada with a successful not-too-nice woman at the top slowly transforming into her fuller humanity. But with 3 hours left in the flight, the last took the prize. 

Yesterday is the name of the movie about the musician singing all the Beatles songs in a world in which the memory of the Beatles is mysteriously erased. It was a lovely reminder of how poor the world—and also my world, as they appeared on Ed Sullivan in 7thgrade just when this then-adolescent was entering the world of rock music, and became a major part of the soundtrack of my adolescence and college years—would have been without the Beatles. The variety, poetry and simply great tunes were stunning when looked at from this film’s unique perspective.

And probably my favorite part was after the musician goes through the dog-and-pony show of the mega-spectacle with millions buying “his” music and thousands attending his concerts, he reaches the true apex at the end by singing with kids in a school. That sincerely warmed this music teacher’s heart. (I, of course, opted out of the rock star period. Ha ha!)

To complete the smooth flow of the day, my flight actually left on time (!), arrived early, 8 people ahead of me in the immigration line, walked to baggage claim just as my bags came out, walked to BART a minute before the train left, walked out of BART and waiting 30 seconds before my wife met me to pick me up and had time and energy to thoroughly unpack, re-settle and sleep through most of the night (he says writing this at a 5am jet-lagged morning). And most important, it seems like I’m virus-free. 

Today then is my reunion with the piano, with my bicycle, with shopping and cooking, with the colder weather (San Francisco’s 47 degrees instead of Singapore’s 74), the details of homecoming. Tomorrow is digging into a book project with two weeks of unexpected time ahead. Grateful for it all.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is also the name of a great Italian film. Maybe I’ll watch it on my next 14-hour flight.

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