But of course today, of all days, the traffic was simple and breezy, like the weather that grinned at me as if to say, "Even if you go kicking and screaming, the plane will take off, and WILL take you to DC!" When we arrived at the airport my mother and I drove around and around Central Parking, mistakenly followed a New York license plated car with the word "Covey" stamped on the bottom (they didn't know where they were going, we found out ten minutes later), and finally parked the vehicle in 4X. We then lugged my heavy black rolling suitcase, my tiny black rolling carryon and my J.Crew tote bag to Terminal C.
Now here is the part where my stomach is doing backflips and my throat feels like it's seizing up with the prospect of sending my mom off to work and walking through the gate alone. But, because life is comical and problematic, I was not allowed to wallow for long.
"Your bag... too heavy!" The man at the AirTran counter looked at me, perturbed. "Your bag... 15 pounds overweight. Very, very expensive!" He seemed to be urging me to do something about this - did I not understand? The bag was TOO HEAVY!
I looked at him, dumbfounded. I didn't have an extra suitcase in the car. Should I empty it out? Take some things on the plane? Send my mother home with an armful of T-shirts? "Okay?" was all I managed to say. My mother took charge, handed over her silver Visa card and proceeded to pay for that extra blazer, jeans and shoes I threw in for good measure this morning. As I watched the man tie a neon orange label to my bag, defining it forever as "HEAVY" - I thought to myself, I have done this completely wrong. Maybe my bag is so heavy the plane won't be able to take off, then they'll leave my bag here, and I won't have clothes in DC. Or maybe this is a sign that I should have listened and packed everything in 2 suitcases instead of thinking I could get it into one! Or maybe, MAYBE, I am not cut out to be a traveler and I should spend the rest of the day hiding in the silver stall of the women's restroom next to Hudson News.
Somehow, between Mr. HEAVY bag checker and the security line, I kissed my mother goodbye and had my license inspected, and was allowed to pass through to the part of security where you take off your shoes and walk through the beeper. And I made it through the security line, and into the terminal, and read through the September J.Crew catalog (www.jcrew.com) twice, and contemplated Supergluing my pants to the chair. The time came to board, and I found myself in 17A, a window seat, next to a nice couple on their way to Texas or Oklahoma via Baltimore. They read the USA Today; I read the Boeing 737 safety manual.
When the complimentary drinks cart came around, they each ordered a Coke. The nice gentleman pushing the cart looked at me and appeared to say, "Are you okay?" I thought, how nice! He must have seen how nervous I was about getting on this plane and flying alone to DC and is checking up on me. I smiled back and said, "Yes, thanks." A third Coke came down the line toward me. "Oh, no thank you!" I said, still smiling. Why was I being given a Coke? The flight attendant looked at me, his wrinkly face confused. "I'm all set," I said. He still stared. Thinking that perhaps it was more socially acceptable to order a drink, I asked for an orange juice. He looked at me, leaned over the couple sitting in 17B and C and said, "First you wanted a Coke, then you were all set, and now you want an orange juice?" I gaped. I coughed. I felt completely foolish. "Yes?" I managed to squeak out. It's not even 10:30am and I have already revealed my idiocy to the entire section of the AirTran flight 826 to Baltimore. Smiling weakly, I accepted the Minute Maid can and sipped it quietly.
That's when I noticed the midge. I think you call them midges - those tiny little flies that land on windows, seem to have an intense liking for human skin and sweat, and that I've always squished without a second thought. But this midge fly was sitting there on my plane window, completely still. My first thought was, "How'd he get up this high?" until I realized he was actually inside the plane. And as my thumb veered to squish him into oblivion, I stopped. Maybe this midge was like my traveling companion. Maybe he was like a little, insect version of Virgil, and I was the humble Dante being guided to Baltimore (whether Baltimore is the Inferno or the Purgatorio I don't know...). For the rest of the descent, I watched Mr. Midge, and thought about the whole process of beginning to be in a new place.
We landed safely, Mr. Midge and I, and I managed to find myself the Super Shuttle and get to 327 8th St., NE. And now I'm in the new apartment, getting ready to go to a Welcome Picnic. I'll write more tomorrow, friends. Let the journeying begin.