Monday, September 21, 2009
Timeline: Atlanta, GA Sunday, Sept 20, 2009, 9:12 am est
My first alarm went off at 3:45 am Sunday morning, and I obeyed it, mostly so I could get across the room and shut off the second alarm before it sounded. Alarm one, courtesy of Apple’s superior iPhone functioning, emits a very pleasant sound, not so pleasant as to be easily slept through, but certainly not as harsh as my ten-dollar clock radio.
The plan was to be in bed (or at least try) last night no later than 8:30 pm, in the hopes of getting my absolute bare minimum necessary seven hours of sleep. I had a wedding yesterday, the very last thing on my calendar before my weeklong vacation officially started. I wasn’t that thrilled with the prospect of this wedding—not only because I’m getting pretty sick of working seven days a week, every week, for months on end. But also, the mother of the bride would only agree to hire me if I promised to wear different shoes than I usually do.
She hadn’t actually seen the shoes I usually wear, but I’d described them for her: black leather thong/sandals. They’re actually very nice and, more importantly, they allow me to walk without a limp down the aisle. My right foot is significantly bigger than my left, courtesy of the surgery I had to restructure it back in 2005. I never was one for high heels or, really, any kind of “girly” shoes. Comfort first and all that.
But I went over to Sears (evoking more childhood memories than I have time to recount here) and grabbed a pair of twenty-dollar, faux leather, imitation ballet flats. Frankly, they looked dumb compared to my sandals. But, whatever.
Annoyed that MOB was so picky about the appearance of my feet, I decided I would dress however I saw fit for the test run. Thus I showed up at the rehearsal Friday with my arms bared, revealing my half-sleeve tattoos, hoping to make some kind of point.
This was my first time to meet the groom—that was something else that had been off-putting. I like meeting both bride and groom in advance. But here is where the tide turned. He was incredibly cheerful, and it was very clear that he and his bride were just delighted to be marrying each other. Their happy mood lifted dissipated what every irritation I had felt earlier.
Saturday, I lollygagged at Warren’s for most of the morning. I knew I had a lot of work to get done pre-wedding, but I wanted to spend time bonding since no matter how much I love traveling (and I do love traveling), the initial departure brings a deep sense of pack separation that unnerves me.
Eventually though, I got down to business. I ran a few errands, walked the dogs, pounded out 2,000 words, and did a little last minute packing. I take great pride in packing—I travel light, rarely forget anything. There is always a short “FINAL THINGS TO PACK” list that I take care of at the last minute. In this case, I made a mental note to switch out my wallet from my purse to my backpack after the wedding.
The wedding, it turned out, was splendid. I had the benefit of a wedding director, Deidre. Most weddings I do, I’m the only one running the show. From time to time there will be a director, which takes a load off of me. In this case, Deidre was so pleasant, so organized, and so no nonsense about all the details, all I had to do was trot up the aisle in my silly new shoes, sprinkle the magic dust, and command groom to kiss bride. I mean, Deidre even had prepared a mock license, which she filled in with all the details. All I had to do was copy her answers onto the real license, just like Bobby Connelly used to copy answers from my test when we were in high school.
As I prepared to leave, I exercised great caution. I did this for a few reasons. A) Mercury is in retrograde. B) I get so giddy at the prospect of vacation I get distracted, so I make myself be hyper aware C) the parking lot of this particular venue was full of trees. Really. Not organized trees. Trees scattered here and there.
I backed up with tremendous caution, watching not only for trees but cars. Slowly, slowly, slowly and then… BAM! Where the hell did that tree come from? The noise and the impact startled me, but inspection of my bumper revealed no damage, even though it’s more like a picture of a bumper than an actual bumper. I did note that everything on the dashboard (we are talking a lot of shit) went flying. Relieved that I wasn’t going to have to file an insurance claim, I proceeded home, worked in a quick plate of spaghetti and three rounds of Boggle with Warren, and then, off to bed.
But wait. Time to transfer wallet. Look in purse. No wallet. Look in purse ninety more times, as if looking will manifest missing wallet. Wallet does not manifest. Wrack brain. Now where was the last place I had it? Memory led me back to the wedding. I’d hidden my purse under a table near the dj booth to keep it out of sight during the ceremony. Maybe it fell out? The wedding was a half hour away. It was 8:30. This was going to mean getting to bed at 10 if I was lucky.
I looked in the car. No luck. I sighed, resigned to make the fifty-mile roundtrip drive.
Then I remembered Deidre, the uber-organizer. She’d sent a list of every single vendor at the wedding. I started texting them all —will you look for my wallet? While I waited, I decided to give the car one more go over. Now, I put on my headlamp, a recently acquired knit-geek tool.
You see, I was visiting with friends recently, and Steve put on his headlamp to find a book on his son’s shelf. When I saw this thing strapped around his head, I laughed in his face. “That’s ridiculous,” I said.
He told me sure it was, but really I should try one. So I did. AMAZING.
Within days, I had my own headlamp. The first time Warren walked in and saw me clutching my knitting with my locomotive-engine look blinding him, he burst out laughing. It’s true, I look stupid when I wear it. But it has changed my life.
So I strap it on and head out. I go through the car again. I sift and sort and sift and sort. Nothing. And then, the trusty headlamp reflects back a hint of something silver. Closer scrutiny reveals this is my wallet, which looks a lot like a cigarette case. Apparently when I smashed into the tree, the wallet was ejected and landed down the side of the passenger seat, where it settled, almost completely out of view, down a crack.
Which is why I am here today to recommend that you all get headlamps and those of you getting married hire Deidre.
In the meanwhile, I’m sitting here in Atlanta. My pack-separated anxiety has already mostly subsided. I got in some great people-watching on the flight from Austin. Lots of Longhorn fans, and more than a few redheads (I love red hair), and a few very, very beautiful people. One guy was so hot— not hot like I wanted to hit on him, but more like something to be admired from afar, a perfect specimen. A young mother across the aisle held her two-year-old and told him all about the tarmac and the Longhorns until he fell asleep in her arms and this recalled so many trips with Henry and I just yearned for those days.
Riding the train from terminal to terminal in Atlanta was also a thrill, reminding me of so many trains I’ve ridden on in Japan. Those happy memories filled me, prompting more happy memories of so many trips I’ve taken over the past thirty years. You could say, despite the 3:45 am wakeup alarm, it was shaping up to be a perfect day, one that will culminate in me getting to see the autumn colors and wear every single woolen item I’ve ever knitted.
But then, I got another kind of wakeup call. I got to my gate and there was no indication this was the correct gate. So I wandered down a few gates to find a Delta employee. And this is when I was reminded that, at least in my experience, Atlanta has the rudest airport employees anywhere in the world. Seriously, I think they have a special Super Bitch School for Atlanta airport workers. I mean, I didn’t have a fight or anything like that. I just walked up and asked for the right gate, telling my destination. Seeing I was laden with luggage (even though I travel light, I didn’t check anything in) the woman behind the counter snapped at me that she needed my flight number. Because, you know, Delta probably has 200 flights heading to Portland, Maine today so she couldn’t simply look it up by destination.
While I unloaded, and rooted around for my boarding pass, taking my sweet time, another clerk barked at me to tell her my departure time. I held up my hand and looked at both of them. TOO MANY QUESTIONS I said.
Finally, they confirmed for me I did have the correct gate info, and then one took the opportunity to lecture me on when and how information appears on the screen, as if I were a complete idiot. This reminded me of another rude airline clerk and I recalled that one was also in Atlanta, when Warren and I flew back to Austin from Honolulu via Georgia (god bless frequent flier mile ticket itineraries).
Well, to hell with them. They shall not sully my day. In four hours, I will be in Portland. In twenty-four hours I will be on an island, spending six glorious days knitting and eating homemade cookies. I will be wearing shoes that fit perfectly. And I will be far from the Super Bitches in Atlanta, Georgia.
Posted by Spike Gillespie at 10:11 AM