October 13, 2003

You don't get a man out of bed at 4:45 on a Saturday morning after he's had a fitful two hours of sleep, have him find that the shower water is ice cold, make him stumble downstairs and put him in a cab to LaGuardia airport. You just don't do it, it's impossible. Even more impossible is getting him to do it himself.

Unless that man is getting on a plane to see his family he hasn't seen in a couple months.

Unless that man is me.

My dad told me maybe four weeks ago that my family would be heading out East this past Saturday. The boys have Fall Break this week, so they were planning on flying out to Pittsburgh to stay with Lori (my stepmom)'s parents for a few days, and then they would all drive down to our nation's capital, go back up to Pittsburgh for a few more days, then call it a week and go back to Phoenix.

Pittsburgh, eh? I thought. That's flyin' distance. Then I remembered how much my parents are paying for me to be here. Correction: That's bussin' or trainin' distance. Hell, I woulda hitchhiked out there, rucksack over my shoulder, one hand holding out a sign reading "Iron City or Bust," had the need arisen. I was seeing my family this weekend, and there wasn't anything you could do to stop me. No, not even that.

A couple of problems arose right off the bat:

- I couldn't leave until Friday afternoon because I had class 'till 12:15, and the afformentioned ginormous sum my parents are dropping now and I'll be dropping in the future on loans makes me wary of missing class as a rule.

- I had to be back in town by two o'clock today, because I had to go to a play for Classic Drama at three.

- AmTrak schedules are six kinds of retarded, no trains were leaving anywhere near the times I needed. Privatiiiiize, man.

- Chinatown Buses go to Philly but not to Pittsburgh, dag blaggit.

- Greyhound Buses were looking like the way, the light, and the truth, considering their schedules are only five kinds of retarded, but their Board of Directors approved the addition of a sixth kind sometime around the beginning of the past week, gumming up what I thought was the Master Plan for Getting To Pittsburgh.

So my dad agreed, after the Greyhound debacle, to fly me out. I could argue only on the basis of feeling guilty for the expense of the trip versus the time I'd be seeing them; I was getting all the things I wanted: a quick trip and most importantly, a day with my family.

So I walked shivering, hair still wet from a cold shower, up Fifth Avenue looking for a cab to hail at five am on Saturday morning.

As you might imagine, I found one with not too much difficulty and Hossain Mohammed conveyed me to LaGuardia.

Driving, or more accurately, being driven through New York is always an experience for me, mostly 'cause I never get to do it. I have been in a car four times in the past two months, kind of a change from being in a car every day back home, not to mention being at the helm of said (crappy) vehicle. (I miss you, F-150. I kid 'cause I love.) So even just the physical sensation is fresh.

Also, I see much more of the city per minute in a cab than I do on a day to day basis. At five AM whole swaths of uptown I've barely even laid eyes on were screaming, explore me, or more NY venacular-accurate, explore me, fuckwad. I repented in my head and promised uptown I'd take the subway to the northern tip of Manhattan and walk all the way down to Battery Park on some theoretical Sunday, bringing my camera and someone to walk with. Uptown was placated. Hossain drove on.

When we got to the terminal, he told me the damage. "Twenty four fifty," he said. "You understand everything."

I paid him a sum I won't reprint here because I thought it was a good tip but I'm not sure and I don't want to look like a tightass, and thought if I understand everything and still act like I do sometimes, I fear for us all, Hoss, I fear for us all.

I love being places on early mornings that are open but practically empty. I'm always that strangely good kind of tired walking through these ghost towns, the kind you're afforded for a couple of hours after waking up from literally no sleep, and the world looks amazing. I don't love paying three dollars for a muffin because the airport cafe is out of egg and cheese. I do love sitting at the gate watching the sun rise listening to Belle and Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister (which I bought for the trip and is the drop-dead balls-out over-and-over-again Current Favorite Record you need every now and again. I hope my roommates are gone when I wake up tommorrow so I can bump it for the whole hall, if bumping Belle and Sebastian is something you can do).

I also love when your plane lands, taxis up to the gate, the capitan turns off the "seatbelt" sign, and everybody and their mother leaps out of their seat, even though half of us won't be able to get to the overhead compartment to get our shit, and none of us are getting out of this thing for another ten minutes at least. I always make a point NOT to stand up, to keep reading my book, and think of all the energy I have saved in my life by not standing up to deplane until I can realistically expect to walk down the aisle. Quite often I pull out a pen and make a note in my I Am So Much Smarter Than Everyone Else Journal while I'm waiting.

The woman next to me, in the middle seat (thanks to pop's frequent-flier miles, I was on the aisle and loving it), she was a jumper-upper. All flight I'd watched her toy with items in her big folder of travel documentation paraphanelia: Mapquest directions, boarding passes, airport maps. Now it was time for this anal-retentive pro traveller to take action, and here I was in her way. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her look at her daughter on the window, then at her watch, then peevedly at the unmoving pillar of people in the aisle. She shook her head in disgust. I kept reading, not actually reading, but just feeling the tension build, awaiting the point where the contrast between her fidgety caged-lightining jumpiness and my cool, calm, collected take-it-easyism stretched, like two opposite magnetic poles or cold water poured into a hot glass, to the breaking point, and this fifty year old lady and I would just MAKE THE FUCK OUT.

(I love New York. Where else in the world can you write, "I stopped blogging at this point to run to the window of my dorm room and watch a street fight involving a car colliding with a bakery truck and four guys attempting to pull the driver of the truck from the window?")

But alas, it was not to be. In lieu of pressing her middle-aged lips to mine, she used them to form words along the lines of "Would you mind? We have to make a connection very soon." I said I didn't mind. I closed my book, stood up, backed into the aisle, and watched her get her bag out of the overhead compartment. Then I watched her stand idly because, bag or no, the line was not fucking moving and we were all going at the same time. I watched her stand, like I'd avoided doing for minutes by just chilling the fuck out.

It's three thirty and I'm tired as balls, so I may just have to Part One And Part Two this, which I realize is incredibly lame because nothing in my story of weekend family seeing has, uhm, happened yet. Don't expect it to. But I will finish up tommorrow. Have a good night.

Posted by DC at October 13, 2003 01:43 AM


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