Live From the Road: Toto, We're Not in Southern California Anymore

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I am on the last leg of my flight from San Diego. Sometime earlier, I had boarded the Red-eye Special to Charlotte, where I connected with a flight to Hartford/Springfield. The plane is well into its descent as it clears Long Island Sound and hits the Connecticut shore. Looking down, a strange sight hits me – strange white stuff on the ground. Whatever can it be?

    I get out of the plane and something totally weird happens: I instantly lose my California tan. Suddenly, I look like I did four months ago, a skinny version of the Pillsbury Doughboy. I’ve heard of the airlines losing luggage, but losing a tan? You mean I risked skin cancer all this time for nothing?
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    My mother was supposed to greet me and say something like, “I nearly didn’t recognize you – why you look like a bald version of Harry Belafonte.” That would have been my cue to say, “Southern California is over-rated. The good weather lasts only 51 weeks of the year.”

    The automatic doors to the terminal slide open and the first day of a New England spring warmly embraces me – all 20 degrees of it. In vain, I click the heels to my ruby slippers together, but, alas, Toto, I’m still in Connecticut.

    I am back east combining business and family. I have two speaking engagements in Connecticut, one in New Jersey, and another in Washington DC, plus I’ll be taking care of business and reconnecting with some of my bipolar mafia. Last time I was in Connecticut, it was for Thanksgiving. My marriage had just broken up, and I was struggling with a crushing depression. No sooner had we finished the turkey than I was forced to issue my apologies and retreat to the guest bedroom and the temporary release of sleep.

    I have two full days with my family before I give my talk. The first day doesn’t count. This is always my “write-off” day when I’m on the road. My road trips are always preceded by weeks of hectic activity and several days of panic stations. Combine this with the rigors of post 9/11 travel, time zone changes, and managing a mood disorder, and I’m ready for serious decompression time. One hour of quiet chit-chat to wind down, and then some badly-needed rebound sleep. Then a nice relaxed evening and early to bed.

    The days pass. I am both relaxed and animated, glad to see people. One thing becomes readily apparent to my mom and family and the neighbors. I am looking good, a lot better than I did four months ago. And it has nothing to do with my tan.

Published On: March 27, 2007