Monday, March 19th, 2018
AND BACK AGAIN–this time Maine to Mexico
I just looked up from my book and have forgotten who I am, not where I am but who I am. Oh yeah. Now I remember. I’m in the Never-Never land of an airport–in Atlanta. I am surrounded by a tour group of Japanese retirees. They look like collection of tiny dolls with wrinkled faces that look like dried apple people, dressed a multitude of vests with pockets and strewn with cameras. I like to hear them talk. Bickering is bickering no matter what the language. Traveling spouse language. I remember where I am and how I goth here.
I was up at 3:30 am this same morning. My daughter called to wake me up which was sweet of her and condescending at the same time. The coffee I made was perfect and i took sips between every task of checking for passport, itinerary, glasses, and chargers and a tiny wood green frog my granddaughter gave me.
My ride comes. I dawdle to drink one more sip of perfect coffee. I had left lights on to wake up to coziness. I’m big on haegge! I leave the house and suddenly have a burst of appreciation for what I had found burdensome yesterday. The honeymoon glow of what you are leaving!!
Airport is sleepy and quiet. My ticket is a mess due to two cancellations from snow storms and that my first name isn’t on the itinerary but IS on my passport. A legal first name that I bet my kids don’t ever know. Nor will you!! Three Delta people at different level all tried to make things work and “the system” woud not let them. They finally give me a boarding pass without the missing name and told me they thought security wouldn’t notice AND to buy another ticket in Atlanta for Mexico. I do get on the plane. Sleepy security bantering more than doing goofy detail. Good to remember. Good?
Whoa, back to Atlanta, I come out of the hallucination stage of travel. Body functions clicking in. What is it with red neon. Panda Express, Fridays, all blink at me. I think of buying red neon glasses. I want glasses that look like Smith Brothers’ red cherry cough drops. I am raving.
OK. Really awake. Heading to restroom and coffee (that will never ever match the peak experience coffee I made at 3:30 this morning. Will I make it onto the next plane? I’m now in a deserted gate area. I move to get away from television. Framed quilts on the wall, rocking chairs and a player piano put me back to wondering who I am and where I am. Will stay til gate opens.
Back to food Court. Sit at a bar with charger outlets. Two handsome men speaking something that sounds like Hungarian keep mentioning a familiar word–Chick Filet. Two Japanes teen-agers do the universal honk of puberty. Across from me is a large black woman who smacks her food. For me, this is the worst sound in the world, especially if it involves bananas. All my kids imitate the sound to torment me. I take a swig from my water bottle and I choke. Big loud, messy, scary choke. My seat partner looks at me. I have one hand up. I indicate water and OKness as I continue to sputter. I stop and pant. Her name is Lillian.
Lillian: I would have come to hug you
Me: I would have welcomed you
Lillian: We have to do love every minute you know. These are times for love.
Me: That’s the gift of Trump. We know we have to love loud now.
Lillian: I love and know everyone in this airport even if I’ve never met them.
Me: I believe it.
Lillian: My granddaughter calls me Nana Ladybug
Me; (I laugh hard and can’t stop) That is perfect. You ARE Nana Ladybut
Lillian: I have to go back to work. (She comes around to my side of the bar)
We fall into a big bear hug and stay there for a long time laughing loud and enjoying this instant friendship. Off goes Lillian waving. I am just plain happy. A love burst in the middle of the airport deserves all kinds of gratitude.
I leave for my gate on hour six of my layover. I stopped to get a ticket having forgotten about it totally and I get another miracle. A very sour information woman gave me joy. She wrote my full name into the boarding pass and snarled about red tape. Not all angels are full of light, you know.
lI board the plane. Small with two seats on each side. I see that there is only one person in each pair of seats. I can’t believe it. Room to spread out and no chit chat. Can this be true? That is an awful moment suspension waiting for the doors to close with no other passenger walking down the aisle. Then it happens. A last minute, sweaty harried man charges in and——————take the seat next to me. He is not just harried. He is hungover and steams with beer and cigarette smells. Up goes the hood of my hoodie. Down goes my tolerance. Fight thinking, “Why me?” I try to go Buddha.
I read YES CHEF by Marcus Samuelsson with a vengeance trying not to be where I am.We land at sunset. The mountains glow pink around us as Iplod toward customs and immigration and security. Ready to bolt to freedom, I trudge one more time through regulations. I smile at the big button each traveler has to push for a random luggage check. No magic wand or scanning, just a big ol Fisher Price kind of toy button that blinks red or green. I lose and watch eyes flashhing in amusement at my wooden toy frog, my six red cups (no, I wasn’t going to sell them and set up a red cup empire) and my twelve books. (No I wasn’t going to sell them)
My shuttle driver awaits. He keeps asking me if I need to use the restroom. I keep saying, “no” until I realize HE needs to use the restroom. My Spanish is still emerging.One more leg to a now fifteen hour day. Bed in an hour and fifteen minutes away. We both tired and quiet. There are too many flash fires along the road in the grasses. We finally zoom through one that has reached the road and is sending baseball size sparks into the air. I shut my eyes waiting for the gas tank to explode. It doesn’t.
We arrive at my road. I remember that it is closed for sewer work. Neither of us is happy but both agree do one more tough thing. We bump luggage over boulder mountains and feel like mules. I manage to say that in Spanish and the laugh give us energy to make it to the house. I tip, not knowing or caring what I give to Kristian (with a K) who has a son JauKin (with a K) and he leaves very happy.
I race to bed holding up my hand to my husband. “Talk at your own risk.” I down a beer, surround myself with pillows, knowing I will wake up to the rituals and household habits of Mexico, just as i had done in Maine.