I wrote this yesterday afternoon from cruising altitude. The timestamps are wrong, but my two-hour jetlag has rendered me apathetic. All else should be accurate.
I awoke this morning when the Knight crawled out of bed, shrugged into a worn brown plaid button-down shirt and padded down the dusty hallway, ran the water and put a kettle on for tea.
I stretched, rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I held my phone close to my face, blind without my glasses and not ready to surrender completely to being awake: It was 7:30. More than five hours till my flight leaves, I thought. A relaxed morning. There was time to go for a run, but I was saving myself for a quick loop around the Strip, after a long flight, before dinner with a client.
So I made us oatmeal for breakfast, sipped my tea and kissed the Knight goodbye when he left — out the door before me, for the first time in recent memory — and puttered contentedly around the empty apartment. Showered, blown dry, dressed, packed.
It was 9:30, and suddenly a man has been pinned beneath a Blue Line train on an ordinary Monday morning. He's dead, and the train is stopped in its tracks. So it goes. The Blue Line was my ride to the airport.
As usual, my once-relaxed morning became a frenzy.
I rushed out the door at 10 to catch my westbound bus, due in nine minutes, according to the tracker on my phone. Except that I'd read it wrong. The eastbound bus was due in nine minutes…my bus wasn't due for 17. Plenty of time to wander across the park, but certainly not enough to get my sorely needed iced chai latte.
So I walked to the stop and waited in the sun for the remaining 13 minutes, perspiring in the yellow cardigan I always wear when I travel and fretting over making it to the airport in time.
I boarded the crowded bus with a 35-pound suitcase, an awkward laptop bag, a purse with a stubborn shoulder strap and a mess of headphone wire tangled through the straps; I inched through the gauntlet of sneakered, indifferent feet back to a seat next to a frail Asian woman who I knew would give me about five seconds to move when she decided she needed to get out. Now. I could feel my chest tightening, the familiar pinch between my shoulders becoming a vice grip. I inched the volume of my iPod up to drown out the cell phone conversations and heavy breathing.
I did make it to the airport, thanks to the Knight and his always-shining Camry. I bypassed the Blue Line entirely — supposedly, the trains were moving again, but I wasn't prepared to risk missing a flight — and met him between classes to hitch a ride. We sailed down the highway, and I let the cool wind whip through my hair and the stroke of his hand slow my breathing again.
"Business or pleasure?" asked the man who checked my boarding pass at security.
"What do you think?" I shot back, then I attempted to soften my delivery with a friendly grimace. The strap of my laptop bag cut into my right shoulder as I waited to be insulted, barefoot and stripped of my metallic finery, by the Transportation Security Administration. I stepped into the guidelines of the body scanner, feet shoulders' width apart, and raised my arms over my head. In the holding area, a man wearing no accessories but his weapon and a name badge chastised me for leaving my wooden bangle on. The scanners don't like bracelets. I slipped my flip-flops back on and glided through the throngs of travelers ambling toward their gates. Breezed to my gate to find that the flight had been oversold, that I'd be stuck in the middle seat I'd been assigned.
Hurry up. Wait.
Through a gauzy grey curtain, a flight attendant handed warm, moist towels to the haves while they waited for a warm meal, two across in leather seats, while the have-nots sip their complimentary soft drinks, wedged three across and sitting up, ramrod straight, with barely enough elbow room to hold a book, let alone type.
But I have my iPod and just enough room to write, just enough mobility in my pinched neck and shoulders to gaze out from my middle seat through the little plastic window, through the cumulus layer and onto the barren landscape below.
Las Vegas, here I come. Lady Luck, smile on me.
Just another Monday, and tomorrow is Tuesday.