Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve

I sit here at the San Diego International Airport on the Eve of Christmas Eve, all contentment and joy as I await my delayed flight to Newark, New Jersey.  That airport is *Cursed, but tonight I don't much care.  I just feel so darn good.

It started last night when I was settling in for bed, looked at my phone, and noticed the reminder e-mail to check in for my flight since I was inside the 24 hour mark.  As I poked and swiped my way through it, a wondrous sight appeared: "Special Offer!  Upgrade to First Class for $139."  Well that certainly caught my attention.  At first I thought it was some lame-ass offer for my short leg from Newark to Pittsburgh, but when I scanned the page further I realized that it was indeed for my five hour trans-continental flight.  I must have been a very good girl this year!

A hundred and thirty nine bones ain't exactly walking-around money, but when you do the five hour red-eye in coach math and then consider the decent deal on the plane ticket that I got in the first place, and then factor in what it would have cost for a first class ticket at original purchase, it makes perfect sense.  Worth it.  Bought it.  Been on Cloud 9 just thinking about it ever since.  In fact, I couldn't sleep much last night just thinking about it.  I even dreamed about flying first class.  It's not like I've never done it before, but it's been ever so few and far between and under circumstances of pure luck and one successful upgrade with mileage, and with the exception of the infamous "Maria Gets Stranded at Dulles at 16 Then Got Flown Business Class to Frankfurt The Next Day" incident of 1999, it's not happened to me for a particularly lengthy flight.

So yeah, I'm excited.

Since this Friday I didn't have any meetings scheduled at the office, I opted to stay at home, as is my general policy these days.  I figured that gave me the freedom to do a little packing and cleaning throughout my day as well, and then an e-mail came from my boss at about a quarter to noon, to the tune of, "Team, I'm getting ready to head out for the afternoon.  If you can, you all should leave too and enjoy the 70 degree Christmas!"

Done and done.

Although somehow even with the entire afternoon free to pack, clean, and run last minute errands, I still managed to barely get out of the apartment in time to walk the block over to the train station to start the trip down to Lindbergh Field.  I like to use the light rail system when I can, although I'm so un-used to it and paranoid about missing a critical connection in a city where the trains run so infrequently, it's usually 90 minutes of sitting on pins and needles for me.

It's only when I got to the airport that I felt at peace.  I hit the scene around 6:15, well ahead of my 9:35 10:05 departure, and braced for impact.

What has greeted me, however, is a relatively deserted terminal.  I thought it would be teeming with travelers by now, but it's been pretty quiet.  I observed as much to the TSA worker who was checking my boarding pass and ID and he lithely replied, "Hang around here for a couple hours.  We've got about 10 red-eyes going out tonight, over 2,000 passengers." Ah, alles klar.  The calm before the storm, then.

The instant I gathered my things from the security line and hit the terminal, I wanted to write.  In the distant, ancient past, before laptops and smartphones, whenever I flew somewhere I used to actually write...letters.  Pages and pages of letters.  **Rachel Greene 15 page letters to Ross letters.  Often with illustrations, and always with thorough observations of the scene around me.  I'm a rather accomplished people watcher.  Most introverts are, you know.  And I have to wonder if I--and we all--have lost a bit of that these days.  As I look away from my laptop and type this, every other person I see is staring at a screen of some sort.  I guess back then I was still in my own world because I was looking at a piece of paper or sometimes just reading a book, but usually I was the only one and everyone else was interacting with one another.

At any rate, I am still content this evening.  With hopes that the delay out of San Diego is really only a half an hour and that everything else goes smoothly, I can't complain about much today or this trip.  Miss Amelia is back at home in good hands with her pet sitter this week, I'm healthy, I have a break from class (though I did bring my book for my next class because we're expected to have read the first three chapters by the first day), and my family and some dear old friends are waiting for me on the other coast.  So all is well.

Wishing you and yours safe holiday travels and a Merry Christmas!



*Oh, right, the asterisk.  So, Newark Airport is Cursed.  My best friend back home got stranded there once coming back to the US from a school trip to Europe.  And this wasn't my best friend as a married adult with a cell phone and credit cards.  This was just after either our freshman or sophomore year of high school.  She and some other classmates were actually stuck there and told they wouldn't be able to go home until the next day or something, and my friend had to be back in Pittsburgh to leave for her family vacation the next day.  So as you can imagine, she was hella upset--yeah, I just dusted off that relic of a word--and her dad ended up renting a  16 passenger van or some shit like that and had to drive across the state of Pennsylvania and bring them all back.  There have been other Newark delays and incidents since then--one even involving myself a few years ago--and ever since that first summer way back when, Newark has been declared Cursed.  Along with its evil cousin, Washington-Dulles, the setting of the aforementioned "Maria Gets Stranded at Dulles at 16..." story.

**If you don't understand the Rachel and Ross reference, then you're probably too young to be on the Internet by yourself.  Please ask your parents' permission first.  I'd rate this blog at about a PG if they ask.