I wrote a bit while I was on the plane between Seattle & Dallas….
8:06 PST, 3/8/6
Just woke from a nap on the plane; the times when I have flown before, I haven’t gotten much sleep, but today started way too early, so I managed to get a bit of a doze.
We left the house this morning a hair before four a.m. C drove me to the airport, so all he had to do was roll out of bed, throw on some clothes, and grab a cup of coffee. I got up at three so I could shower, dress, double-check my packing and my flight, put my bags in the car, and make tea & coffee.
Three a.m. Humans were not really meant to see that hour. Usually, I only see it if a cat is being too aggro about going outside. Funny enough, Maddy was waiting patiently at the front door as I was making tea.
At least traffic on I5 is smooth between four and five; just after Fife, the highway went from five lanes to two for construction work, which made for a worrisome moment. But no more than a moment, and we were blazing on our way.
Arrived at the airport a bit after five, dropped at the door with hugs and kisses. E-ticketing was stupid easy, and no bags to check, so a brisk walk to the gate printed on my ticket.
Only when I got to that gate, the sign announced a different flight, the one heading to Dallas after my flight. Which seemed strange, but I figured it was a minor mixup, and it was probably safer to stay there, at least until a half-hour, twenty minutes, before the boarding time.
Other people began to gather, all cross-confirming that we were intending to get on flight 1704 to Dallas. A vague anxiety hovered over the gate. Then two men looking suspiciously pilot-like arrived, and the small crowd clustered around them, asking for directions, help, information…anything.
One went behind the counter, made some calls, and then announced that we were at the wrong gate. In the wrong terminal. The news filtered out, and the herd began its passage, down two flights of escalators, onto the shuttle out to the satellite terminal, back up two flights of escalators, and then to the far end of the terminal. I paused from the exodus for a bathroom break; when I came out, the crowd was flowing back again, away from the new gate.
Which was the wrong gate. In the wrong terminal. Surprise, surprise: the first gate, the one I got to almost an hour early? That was the right gate all along.
So the growing herd of passengers went back down two flights of escalators, back onto the shuttle (this time holding the doors until it was full almost to bursting), and back up two flights of escalators, through the terminal to the original gate. Gate A6, which will now be permanently emblazoned in my memory.
Luckily at that point it was about time to board. I was hoping that a 6:18 flight would be relatively empty, but that isn’t the case. At least the seat next to me is empty; the guy on the other side of the empty seat is watching a movie on his laptop. I’m wishing wryly that I’d thought to bring my headphones. Then I could watch Jon Stewart on Larry King, which I downloaded last night.
But in general I’m feeling good about having packed light. My $4 rolling suitcase (go Goodwill!) is full but not overstuffed. I didn’t bring a coat. (A vest & sweatshirt, with gloves, was enough to stay warm on my way to the airport. I hear it’s in the 70s in Austin.) My lovely new bag is packed almost perfectly. (C has this amazing way with picking backpacks & such.) Every little knickknack has its own spot, and the laptop fits just so. I had a brief moment of dorkiness on the plan, when my suitcase refused to roll normally and I ended up dragging it sideways down the aisle. But I don’t feel freaked out about it.
Down below, I see snow-covered hills (? mountains?) and brown fields, the fields mostly in enormous circles within squares. A bit of snow on the fields, too, and a tiny blotch of a town, but it’s all becoming obscured with clouds.
Less than an hour left, hopefully, and then Dallas, which should mostly consist of getting orientated to find the gate for my connection, and maybe enough time to sit and eat my banana, and then a second flight, just a little hop over to Austin.
There’s two parts to that. There is South by Southwest, which I’m anticipating being fun and mind-expanding. (watch this space for my usual copious if cryptic notes)
I don’t think I’ve talked about it much here, but I almost went to Austin exactly nine years ago. It’s a long story, but the short version is that I changed my mind at the last minute, and a trip to Austin and San Francisco turned into a trip to Mount Rainier and San Francisco. The SF part remains one of my favorite vacations ever. The question has always been in my mind, though, of what might have been, had I gone to Texas then.
Feh. Regret is the suck.
But one of the reasons I decided to take this trip is that I re-established contact with the friend I was going to visit then. She’s still there now, and these extra days before and after SXSW are so we can visit.
Thus the deep breath. I don’t exactly know what I’m hoping for, or what I’m afraid of, only that I feel bouncy and a little unnerved. Writing helps, of course, and it’s odd writing for my blog while being away from the Internets. I’m clearly writing for an audience, not in my journal, and I’m enjoying the change of register.
I feel a shift of key, but I can’t quite make the bridge to the new key. My mind turns inward, on my own emotions, onto the past. There’s a story I want to tell, that seethes in my head, but that I’m (still) not (yet) ready to share here. I feel surprisingly naked in this space. No, not surprising at all, not really. If I say something here, I should be prepared to say it to my co-workers, my neighbors, my relatives. (Liz, you don’t count: I can tell you almost anything!) And I’m not prepared for that, nor do I feel so moved by events that I must write come hell or high water.
So I’ll go over to watching a sea of white cloud meet a vastness of blue sky, and wait for the captain to tell us that the descent is approaching