Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Austin- First Installement
At 2 o'clock in the AM on the first day of the year, 2 hours after everyone had kissed and yelled, I was throwing an elderly Ukrainian woman out of my bar so as to make my flight to Austin.
As exciting as it was to fly on the first day of the year, my companion and I never took pause to think about the fact that, since people were usually out reveling until the break of dawn, we might not actually be able to easily procure a car to the airport.
Luckily, I have friends in high places and a secret Ninja Car Service got us to the airport a little before 5 am.
We boarded the plane, eyes half closed, and I passed out and woke up in Washington D.C.'s Dulles International Airport. I somewhat remembered leaving New York.
We shuffled off the plane and had an hour and twenty minutes to wait for our connecting flight to Austin.
We boarded what the airport there called, a "shuttle". This thing was not a shuttle. It was a large Room with Handles. There was nothing bus-like about it. It was about the size of my apartment in New York and seemed to float, as if held up by a stick, rather than drive from terminal A to terminal B. This, of course, became the funniest thing I had ever seen (at least at 7 am on New Year's Day) and prompted me to laugh hysterically.
A fellow passenger turned to my trusted travel companion, Ashleigh Beyer, and asked, "what's so funny? What are you girls laughing at?"
"She thinks this thing is a room with handles."
At which point, in my delirium, I turned to her and proclaimed, "you're making me sound like I am from Norway."
"She's from Norway," says Ashleigh Beyer.
"I'm from Norway," I resign.
"Well, things are different in Norway," replies the inquisitive gentleman.
We do not stop laughing and exit the Room.
Ashleigh locates our Gate and finds two sections of seating where we can "lie down," you know, "for a little while." Plus, she says, there is an excellent television program on. It is across from our gate.
We lie down. And when I say lie down, I mean keep- waking- up -to- a -pool- of -drool- under- my cheek.
Ashleigh was also doing a bit of the sleeping. Every few minutes we would wake up. Check on the bags, on each other, on our 8:40 flight across the way, and go back to it. Two little crushed birds on the side of the road. On United Way.
Something happened somewhere amidst all of that careful napping.
I awoke to Ashleigh sitting up and looking at her cellphone. I looked at her and I completely understood.
I just said, surprised only that I had a voice, "we missed our flight?"
She, however, was nowhere near as ready to admit defeat.
She says, "You know, it's funny, It says here that it is 8:56. They must have moved our flight. I'm going to go find it."
Ashleigh had never missed a flight. Neither had I but, I was not surprised. We had been sleeping in such a way that anyone could have walked away with anything we owned.
While Ashleigh went off with hope in her heart about an 8:40 flight that was somehow moved a Little Down the Runway,I stuck my hand in my coat pocket.
My Cell Phone was gone. I checked the floor. I checked the surrounding gates. I checked the Starbucks, and bars, and rib joints. Nothing. The flight had absconded with my phone. My phone, and not us.
Ashleigh had found acceptance out there at Gate Denial, and came back with plan B.
I tried to explain about my missing phone and all of the missing phone numbers for the people in Austin.
We began to wake up a little.
We both agreed we weren't supposed to be on that flight. We think magically that way sometimes. It cheers us up and annoys the neighbors.
We never found my phone. I used Ashleigh's to call 411 to stalk all of the family members of all the people in Austin we would have to contact.
We were greeted onto the stand-by flight after 4 hours, 3 cups of spilled coffee, and some carrot sticks.
This plane was playing music, something like, Django Reinhart, which pleased me greatly, and we settled into the last row near the bathroom.
The sweet little flight attendant in the back started to listen to our long story about cabs in New York, sleeping through flights, and lost cell phones and she smiled,leaned over us, and asked us if we wouldn't mind moving up to First Class.
She bumped us up to First Class to balance out the load.
I think this is where the 1pm Gin and Tonics came into play, if I am not mistaken.
We pretty much drank and slept our way from Washington to Austin.
I stared out the window a lot. I always do. My forehead pressed as hard as I could to the glass. Flying is this organized way of taking you out of reality. There is a certain height where you are back below the clouds and looking at the land, the first time you can see a car move again, but from such a height that the only thing you can think to think is Separate but the Same. I like that place. There are winding roads and you can't see the price of gasoline.
I wiped the window off when we landed.
Within an hour I was on a farm in East Austin looking at cactus and palm trees and goats and kale. There was a hammock made out of bamboo there and I kept thinking about lying down.
So far so good all.