… all after I’d already gotten to the airport. I’m SO GLAD I gave them my cell phone number so that they could… send me email letting me know that the plane was delayed. Those people at Orbitz are ALWAYS THINKING! Why call me there at the airport when I might’ve found the information useful? So much better to find out—after I get back home—that my plane is late. Yes.
I am typing with two fingers and only one eye open, but figured I’d dash this off before turning in. What’s another half an hour once you’re up this late?
Once we finally boarded, the gentleman next to me managed to break all unspoken rules of air travel etiquette. His knee and elbow landed clearly within my space, he scarfed down a gigantic bag of roasted nuts (loudly and with great relish), and although he was impossible to ignore, made a point of avoiding eye contact, not even granting the fake-polite hello that one generally shares with a person you have to practically sit on top of for a few hours.
“I can’t believe you’re actually here.”
“I know! I’m here!”
“Part of me was a little afraid you were just going to fly down, smack me, and fly back.”
“Um, did you want me to do that?”
“No, but, you know.”
“Yeah. No. I’m good.”
I tried to wedge my head against the window and go to sleep. I also tried to move the rest of me as close to the window as possible to avoid any contact with Oblivious Man, over there, in the next seat.
“I like your hair short.”
“Really? I was sure you’d hate it.”
“No, I like it. This is going to sound weird, but you look younger.”
“No, not weird. A few other people told me that. I just like it because it’s easy and I’m lazy.”
“Really? That’s why I keep mine short, too.”
My chin bounced off my chest as the flight attendant’s twang came over the loudspeaker to announce that the captain had turned off the seatbelt sign. Here I was sleeping and unaware that I was now free to move about the cabin. Thank goodness you woke me up to tell me!
“I wish I still had those notebooks.”
“Heh. I’m not even sure what class that was. Was it lighting?”
“Stage design. A little lighting, a little set design…”
“Oh, right. What did we talk about, other than running away to the mountains in my truck?”
“Mostly that. Sometimes you would write that you were bored, or something about someone else in the class.”
“Heh. Oh yeah. Did we pay any attention in there at all?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
Whatever position I’d managed to fall asleep in, the first time, I couldn’t seem to find it again. My neck was stiff and my toes were freezing. I huddled against the window, closing my eyes, trying to get comfortable.
“It’s a really pretty campus. It sort of reminds me of Cornell. But with kudzu.”
“Yeah, it’s nice. Good for walks, nice shade. In the spring everything flowers at once. You should see it then.”
“I can imagine.”
“This really is the greatest scam I’ve ever pulled. They pay me, I get the whole summer off, I get a couple of weeks at Christmas… it’s awesome.”
“Yeah, but, no snow. And those BUGS.”
“We do have a lot of bugs. But there’s also really good barbecue!”
Why didn’t I bring a cardigan or a light jacket? My arms were freezing. I wrapped them around myself and rubbed a bit to try to restore circulation, all the while trying not to touch Mr. I’ve Taken Over The Armrest.
“I don’t understand how you knew, back then.”
“What do you mean?”
“You knew. Seventeen years ago you knew. How did you know?”
“I dunno. I just did. Something in your eyes.”
“I’m sorry I was so slow.”
Just when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, either the cold or the cramped quarters or both, the plane started to descend. I said a silent prayer of thanks.
“That’s so funny, what you said, about this station playing a lot of covers. I kept hearing something and thinking ‘Oh, that’s… wait, no it isn’t… yes it is.’”
“Isn’t it neat?”
“Very. It’s so familiar and yet… different. Very cool.”
We bumped to the ground and all around me, people began stretching and murmuring. Once we reached the gate, we sat and waited while they pulled up the jetway. I pulled out my phone and turned it back on.
“Hey, we just landed. Go back to sleep.”
“Okay. How was the flight?”
“Late. Long. Bumpy. Hey, I’m a barrel of goodwill at the moment! Heh. Ignore me, I’m just tired.”
“Hey… thank you.”