The Gang’s All Here - Baltimore to Seattle (Part 1 of 2)
Updated: Jan 31, 2020
Sunday, October 7, 2018
I left at 3:45 am for the 5:15 am flight. I can’t say enough how convenient it is to live close to the airport. Early flights be damned. At this ungodly hour I tried my best to be a human being and less of a monster. Unfortunately for my parents, they were part of this early morning run by dropping me off. But feel no sympathy for them, I have had to return the favor on several occasions. As best I could, I made sure I had everything I could possibly need or would need to have for what was going to be the longest leg of any of our trips, 3 plus weeks. Or if not, all I could do at 3:45 am is hope for the best and know that anything else is a call or a debit card swipe away.
My dear father drove past the United Departure sign. Way past. That was fine I suppose since it was a zoo even at that time of the morning and my suitcase has wheels and I could easily back track. Check in went pretty smooth in the hurry up and wait game of catching a flight. However, the TSA line was another animal. It never fails, anytime I prepare to get x-rayed, or zapped through, I second guess if I have taken off everything or is there anything in my bag I forgot to take out, or do I have a metal plate in my head that I always forget about. Nonetheless, my backpack got pulled over - I forgot to take out my camera even though I took out my laptop and everything else. Officer Carney who checked my bag asked if there was anything dangerous. I told him “no,” except for the makeup.
Now that I was in the clear, I headed to the gate. During this time, there was no sign of my travel companions but I know they don’t have the good fortune of living a skip and a hop away. I know we will convene at some point. This is the time that I like to take care of the necessities: fill my water bottle, maybe get coffee, get food, etc. Lately when I travel, I have noticed that I have this condition I call “scared bladder syndrome.” In this stage of my life, I get nervous about not having the free right to get up and comfortably use the bathroom without “excuse me pardon me’s,” especially since I tend to prefer the window seat. With that being said, anytime I am waiting to board a flight, I feel the need to go to the restroom every 15 minutes until the announcement is made on the intercom. Yes, even I am annoyed by this obsession. During one of my stops in, I heard someone throwing up in one of the stalls and I had to walk over what I presume to be the same person’s vomit on the floor to get out of the bathroom. Hope she isn’t on our flight!
Of course, last night I didn’t sleep due to my normal anxiety of wanting to make sure I crossed all my Ts and dotted the Is. For instance, I have this funny idea about marriage; during my planning, I wanted to make sure that Sarah and Thomas are close to each other on the flight and comfortable. Would they be ok with their seating arrangement? What are the expectations of a married couple while flying - do they want to be next to each other, or do they want space? Oh and somehow I forgot to bring the car insurance card but was able to log on my phone and have the id cards sent to me electronically. Sarah and Thomas arrive at the gate and we all greeted each other. We all took turns getting last minute flight needs while leaving someone to watch the belongings.
Boarding began and it was officially time to get the show on the road. I booked our seats in the same rows for most of the trips. Window for me, aisle for Sarah and Thomas was either aisle or window. Sarah and I were talking once we took our seats on the plane. Me at the window, she in the aisle and Thomas the other aisle. The infamous middle seat between us was empty until a guy walks up and exclaimed, “Let’s snuggle ladies!!!” Really sir? Are you out of your cotton pickin’ male chauvinistic mind? Do you have any idea how dangerous that was to say at this very moment? Right at the height of the #meetoo and the anti-Kavanaugh movement! Tensions were high and if I wasn’t tired or if it was barely 5:00 am, I could have punched him right in the neck. Luckily for him, he turned it around. He chatted me up and we talked briefly. The talk turned to questions. He asked if the trip was business or pleasure. I told him both, that is was “waycation.” I asked him the same. He was from Chicago and he was going home to visit. His dad was not doing well. Instantly I gave him grace for his earlier comment. I started writing and asked middle neighbor for the date (not that I hadn’t been counting down to this specific date for months- but I truly forgot). He asked if I always journal. I admitted it happens infrequently when not traveling, but it was helpful. He said he has lost many days (of his life) not journaling. What a great way to put it and motivation to continue. The days fly by and so do their events and moments.
Taxiing the runway took very long; I thought we were on a bus, not a plane. The cold, recycled air pumped over your head forces you to meditate, breathe in and out… I tried to sleep but there was too much turbulence. Instinctively I tightened my seatbelt as if that was going to make a difference. Slowly but surely, I was mentally settling down. I was finally getting excited about the trip. THIS WAS HAPPENING! Ever since the movie Goonies, I had wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest - the water, the cliff sides, trees and rocks, the moody weather. When we landed, the pilot said that he didn’t have to be anywhere and was not leaving for the next 2 hours, if anyone wanted to come to the cockpit. I gave Thomas and Sarah the eye, but they reminded me that “WE” don’t have the time. We lucked up and our gate for the connecting flight to Seattle was practically 2 gates down from where we found ourselves. Thank goodness because I have missed a flight due to the colossal size that is the O’Hare International Airport.
OPEN: The feeling that was inside my stomach was not flitting butterflies. It was more like elephants, stomping, stampeding, up and down on everything - for the last few months while planning this trip. As we near our destination, the elephant stampede was coming to full attention. The rental car was a white Toyota Sienna minivan - very new vehicle, black leather interior and all the bells and whistles. If one could say a minivan was nice, this would have been the time. Somehow Thomas played a perfect game of Tetris and our luggage fit nicely and just so in the very back. Or as he stated, packed "like a G." Perfect!