Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Long Road Home

Sunday morning, from the Marriott Courtyard near the Atlanta airport:
Early Saturday morning, after spending three grand weeks with them, I said a sad farewell to my twin granddaughters (their mommy and daddy, too). The plan was for me to fly from a tiny regional airport in AL to Boston (with a stop in Atlanta) and meet up with my husband, who was returning from a trip to Amsterdam, and then we were going to drive home from there together...But after getting as far as Atlanta, I got stuck. Every single flight from that uber-crowded airport (a real people watcher's paradise!) to Boston--or NY, or pretty much everywhere that would help me get further north--was overbooked, and it soon became obvious that there was no way I was going to get out of there that day. So instead of heading to Boston after his overseas flight landed in NY, my husband flew down to Atlanta for a "date night" with me (dinner at the airport Chili's) so I wouldn't have to spend the night alone in the hotel.

That's right: we met for a date in Atlanta. I think that officially makes us a couple of jet-setters.

The last thing my husband wants to do when he's returning from a three-day trip, tired and anxious to get home, is board another airplane--heading in the wrong direction! But he made that sacrifice for me. I may have said this before, but he's my hero.

Oh, the joys of non-revving (being a non-revenue passenger flying stand-by)! The perk of free airline tickets for airline employees and their families is an enviable one, I know; without it, there is no way I would have been able to see my darling Bonnie Babe and Kewpie (the baby formerly known as Cutie Pie) as often as I have since they made their entrance into the world in June of 2011. But it can be a real pain in the neck sometimes. When you're non-revving, it's always advisable to have a good, long book with you, in case you get bumped from a flight and have to kill a lot of time at the airport waiting to try for the next one. That being said, even paying customers are sometimes inconvenienced these days. On Saturday, harried gate agents in Atlanta were offering cash and other enticing rewards to volunteers willing to give up their seats on the flights I was hoping to get on; and right there I knew that I, a mere lowly non-revver, didn't have a chance in h-e-double toothpicks of ending up with a seat.

Oops, better end here--it's time to head over to the airport.

Continued, Monday morning from home sweet home:
Well, I made it! It was a long road (make that sky) home for me--four legs in all, from a small regional airport in AL to Atlanta to NY to Boston--but my husband and I were together for the last two legs, and by Sunday afternoon, we were safely back in the beloved nest we've been feathering for the past 21 years. I am so happy that I was able to help my son and his wife as they went through the process of setting up their temporary home in AL, but it's good to be home. And I can't wait until they, too, get to set down permanent roots for their wonderful little family.

My fear of flying has been well-documented on this blog, so if you've read it much you know that this four-leg trip home was no picnic for me. But I must say, I've spent so much time on airplanes the past two years or so that I'm beginning to cope with the fear a lot better than I used to. And this may sound strange, but while I don't enjoy flying, I do love airports. Not puny ones that offer little more than a vending machine to weary travelers, like the one in AL that I flew out of on Saturday; I mean big ones, like the airport in Atlanta. I love having enough time between flights to grab a coffee and browse through the little shops, especially the bookstores. I found my husband's favorite cowboy hat, a beautiful brown leather one, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport; I've found some of the best books I've ever read at various airport bookstores. At the airport, I feel like I'm on the streets of some shiny little city (where all the residents are always in a big hurry), and strolling along those busy streets seems fun, especially as it delays--for a little while, at least--the inevitable dreaded flight to come. My husband does not share this feeling with me, understandably, because his job requires him to spend more time in airports than any human being should have to spend. He'd rather have somewhat tight but workable connections between flights, thank you very much. But I love airports, I do. I must be some kind of weirdo.

While walking through the Atlanta airport Saturday, waiting for my husband to arrive, I saw a storefront that reminded me of home.

Years ago, I painted similar trompe l'oeil exposed bricks on some walls in my family room and kitchen. (My youngest son, a grade schooler at the time, asked me why I wanted to make our house look like it was falling apart. He just didn't get it.)So when I saw that charming airport candy store with the same decorative paint effect, I just had to take a picture of it. See, this is why I enjoy spending time at the airport. I'd so much rather look at cute little shops than clouds...or fields that really do resemble a patchwork quilt...or cars and houses the size of Monopoly pieces...

How about you? What would you rather do: fly, or hang out in an airport? (Go ahead, discuss. Tawk amongst yourselves.)

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