Monday, April 18, 2005

The Beginning of the End, or a New Beginning

I got out of bed at 6:30 yesterday morning at the urging of my alarm, and told Joe's buddy who took over Glen's bed for the night to go back to sleep. I showered, shaved, did all those little things you do in the morning to prepare yourself for the day.

Only this time around it was especially poignant. This was my last time going through that routine I went through every single morning in D.C.

I dressed and packed the last of my things away. I even had extra room so I packed some things I thought I'd have to leave behind. I checked each room for things that belong to me, became content that nothing remained, and closed the zippers. I put on my backpack, put the strap of my giant blue Jeep duffle bag over my shoulder, and grabbed the handle of my rolling suitcase.

And I left Woodley Park quietly, having said my goodbyes the night before.

I took the Red Line to the Metro Center transfer point to the Blue Line, waited a good 15 minutes for the train, and took it to the Airport. I checked my bags and went through security with little trouble other than my own sleep-deprivation-induced awkwardness.

I walked out to my gate, #30, on the south side of the concourse and gazed upon the plane that would take me home. Then I turned around and noticed the view to the North: Downtown D.C.

I spent the next 90 minutes alternating between painfully staring out that north window at all the places I'd worked at over the past 14 weeks, and sitting by the plane trying to wipe them from my memory before giving in and going back to the glass.

Some were in plain sight, like the Capitol, and others were too short, like the White House and my own office building, but I knew where they were and could see them with my eyes closed. It hurt much to see those buildings and the lyrics to "In My Life" played through my head several times.

Eventually they called for my group to board the plane, and it took all I had to walk away. I saw next this old curmudgeon on the plane that only spoke once during the entire day; I said hello and she snarled back with a few nice words that didn't come off nice, in fact, I've been told to "Eat Sh*t and die" with more cordiality.

We backed away from the gate and taxied to the north end of the runway. The plane turned to the right and I looked straight out the left window and waved goodbye to Washington in my mind as I saw it for the last time. The pilots were granted permission to take off, the turbines roared alive, and we were off.

The first flight was rather uneventful. I listened to an album of work by The Capitol Steps on my iPod and then started picking whatever songs I felt like hearing. The drink carts came by, and I kept with my airplane tradition.
You see, back when I was a little boy, my family went on a trip to Disneyland by air. When I was asked by the attendant what I wanted to drink, I inquired about their selection. She rattled off a few familiar names, but one caught my ear, and my tongue. I decided to take a chance and try something new.

She poured me a drink, and from the first sip, I loved it. Ever since, I have consumed Ginger Ale every time I fly, and whenever I have it on the ground it brings back pleasant memories of travel.
We touched down in Chicago, and the hour or so passed uneventfully. I bought a couple cheesburgers from McDonald's for abou $3, and a copy of USA Today for $0.75. I sat, I ate, I read, and I made a few phone calls. A gate change was announced, and I relocated.

The Boarding call came up again, and I took my seat next to a friendly old guy named Rod and his wife. I shared my paper with them -- they were interested in the Sports page only -- and while we didn't talk that much, all communication was friendly.

Takeoff was scheduled for 1:09. At about 1:10, the Captain came on and told us there was going to be a delay of about 10 minutes. He could have stopped there. He should have stopped there.

But no, he had to be a sadistic bastard.

"We're going to be delayed for about ten minutes as they rearrange the luggage in the hold so it's away from the hole we found," he said, thinking he was helping the situation. "It's about the size of a dollar, we covered it up with tape and it's just fine, we just want to play it safe by not having weight on that part of the plane."

American Airlines lost all chance of ever getting business from me again at that very moment.

We took off, or as it seemed, we were shot into a hurricane. Up and down and all around we went, our seatbelts thankfully preventing us from developing intimate relationships with every hard, flat object in the cabin.

The turbulence stopped, and I got out my laptop and watched a few episodes of Red versus Blue, had another ginger ale, and before I knew it the plane was on final approach.

As we neared MCI, the pilot's streak of sadism came out again, and we started rocking back and forth in the wind. I seriously believed I was going to die.

And then we actually landed. Surprising enough, it was rather soft... as far as airplane landings go.

We pulled up to the terminal, I walked off the ramp, and the first thing I saw was my little brother Neal jumping up and down like he'd brought his own trampoline to the airport.

I almost ran back onto the plane.

Instead I marched onward toward him, and the rest of my family. As I neared the security gate I saw that another brother, Ryan, was also waiting for me.

I walked through, and was obliterated as the security officers busted up laughing while Neal and Ryan started jerking me about like a Bass on the hook. My poor mother looked like she was about to deny knowing 3 of her sons.

I finally pried them off of me and walked over to the carousel to pick up my baggage. 15 minutes later it stopped popping out bags, and none of them were mine.

"Oh God," I thought, "They got sucked out the hole."

Then I looked over my shoulder. Turns out American Airlines had two luggage carousels, and my luggage had been going around and around for a few minutes. I collected it and went outside. We threw them in the van and went home.

We pulled into Council Grove 3 hours later. When I left, the place was coated in several inches of ice. This time, everything was green, and completely surreal.

We pulled into my dad's gas station. The sign in front said the following in 8-inch letters:


Those little sh*ts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Logan.
Your (Expletive Deleted) Brother, Drew

10:16 PM  

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