I've been very upset over Kristof's departure...
Group photo of Kristof's goodbye dinner at Buca di Beppo on March 2, 2009 here in Wash. D.C. This picture was taken by LP and it is a digital image (click for larger version). From left to right: Eric M., Stephanie, Phil, Yours Truly (Regulus), Kristof (guest of honor in the Pope's Chair), Damon, Shaila, Gary, and Gerry. David had to leave early. This was in the "papal room" and, yes, that is a bust of Pope Benedict XVI.
Buca di Beppo is a weird and hyper-kitschy Italian restaurant that serves gargantuan food portions at relatively reasonable prices.
Another group photo taken by LP
Long story shore, Kristof's visa expired before his immigration could proceed administratively and now he is back in Poland / Europe for at least a year (although he could return on a tourist visa before that time).
The following images were taken yesterday en route to and at Dulles International Airport. It was a bright, unseasonably cold day for early March in the D.C. area, highs only in the mid to upper 20s Fahrenheit.
Kristof riding shotgun and me in the backseat of Gary's vehicle as we headed out of D.C. to Dulles Airport located about 20 miles west of the city.
The whole immigration system in the U.S. is as stupid, irrational, systemically flawed, and self-defeating as EVERYTHING else in this country, including (but not limited to) its banking; health insurance; public education; corporate media; corporate, well, anything; political; and criminal justice systems, not to mention its vacuous culture, religious insanity, gun fetish, and high crime.
Arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport, March 3, 2009
Dulles Airport, built circa 1960, positively screams Le Corbusier modernist style, where through the 1960s screaming DC 10 "aero-planes" belonging to Pan American World Airways would take off bound for Brasilia, the Belgian Congo, Beirut, and Paris, and droid-like female flight attendants wore white gloves and pill-box hats and served actual meals ...
Kristof at Dulles near the Air France counter. David helped Kristof enormously on his journey from the U.S. to Warsaw via Paris and I'm very grateful for what he did.
... rather than attitudinal gay male flight attendants on frickin' US Airway flights to Rayleigh-Durham serving $4 packs of stale pretzels and $2 plastic cups of watery Pepsi, not to mention having to check your luggage at $50 a pop if you dare to actually check any bags.
Here is Kristof at an airport lounge with Gary and me, although he did not have a lot of time before he had to check in through security.
Dulles Airport also reminds of JFK Airport in the 1970s when I lived in New Jersey with my grandparents and dad but flew on a few occasions to Belgium to visit my mom, once on Pan-Am and later on SABENA.
Here is that really funky looking black glass building that houses the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) headquarters just outside Dulles Airport in Herndon, Va. Its shape is sort of a flattened but sloping trapezoid, or maybe a truncated cone. The dark flecks of stuff "in" the sky is actually on the car window, probably road salt.
I don't know if Kristof is returning a year from now. It's not clear and will depend on what kind of work he gets. He will be in his hometown of Gdansk in Poland until he gets a job. He may get a science job in England. It is possible that he will return a year from now to his NASA Goddard job, but I don't know. I'd hardly blame him if he stayed in Europe, where opportunities EU-wide are better anyway than in the U.S., where we're too busy self-destructing.
Yours Truly, Regulus, on the car trip back from Dulles Airport to D.C. with Gary driving. It felt more like going to a damn funeral. I hate emotional airport goodbyes, yet that is precisely what I ended up having happen.
I will miss Kristof very much. Scuba Steve at Cobalt said, "He's not dead. He'll just be missing for a year."
In the next few days, I have to store some of his things at Phil and Stephanie's place and I have to turn in the key and letter to his property management company.
Yours Truly, Regulus, and Kristof along with Damon and Shaila at Buca di Beppo, Wash. D.C., March 2, 2009
Goodbye, Kristof. See you perhaps in a year.