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Sunday, September 21, 2008


So we stood up and were herded into the boarding line. I felt awkward. What now? Dan and I were in line together for "zone 3" but we weren't "together." Did we WANT to be together? Yes, I answered to myself... at least I didn't want to say "goodbye."

"How dumb!" (the realist in me said). Why are you pondering this as if it means anything. I met a guy while waiting at the airport for over 8 hours, big deal! We were only "together" for about 2 of them.

I handed my ticket to the flight representative, she scanned it and gave it back to me. I walked down the ramp to get on the plane, checking my seat number repeatedly (as if it might magically change, or as if I had NO memory at all). "14D." - was that a window seat, an aisle, the dreaded middle?? Not sure, Leo had booked my flight.

I waded my way through carry-ons, passengers and the narrow aisle lined by arm chair rests. After several pauses, for others to try to jam all of their "carry-ons" in the overhead bins, I spotted seat "14D."

It was an emergency exit row seat (window just like I like). "Awe" I thought, Leo probably planned that on purpose. He wanted his little sis to be closest to an emergency exit + have the bonus extra leg room. :)

So I shuffled into my seat, without stopping to stuff my big purse into the overhead. I don't like being separated from my purse, I carry everything in there.

I had completely forgot about Dan with all of the boarding commotion. He was behind me in line, but I didn't see him now on the plane. Everyone was sitting now except an older couple slowly finding their footage to get seated.

Then the flight attendant came on the speakers with the usual announcements, half of which were delivered to us on the little flap-down flat screen tvs. I was staring out the tiny window when one of the flight attendants came by our row to double check that we all spoke English and were of age. She discovered that the lady sitting next to me was French and then asked for a volunteer to trade seats with her. A man behind me said "I'll move."

So the French woman left her seat to a row behind mine and then the volunteer replacement plopped down in her place. It was Dan :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Zone 3

After about 20 minutes in line at "Best Burger", Dan and his duffle came back to the row of seats I was stationed at. He plopped down next to me this time, tossing his duffle to the other side. He sighed and dug into the floppy bag of burgers like it was a gift on Christmas morning. He handed me my strawberry shake and said "here you go - enjoy." Then he proceeded to devour about 3 cheeseburgers, shuffling fries into his mouth where they would fit... and sipping on coke to wash it all down. He seemed to be in fast-food heaven.

Finally I said, "hungry?" He looked over at me with his mouth full and just nodded, then put his finger up to signal that he needed a minute to chew before he could talk. I sipped my shake while I waited for him to swallow 2 cheeks full of food. Then Dan looked over at me and said "I haven't had fast-food in 6 months, I've been overseas, this is my first day of R&R." Dan could tell I didn't know what R&R was so explained, "R&R is my halfway point in my deployment... I get 2 weeks then have to go back to Afghanistan after that." "I see," I said..."so you have family in Houston?"

We were interrupted with a "BING! BING!" signaling the flight representative's monotonous announcement "attention passengers flight 240 to Houston, we are now boarding zone 1." Dan crinkled up his burger wrappers and stuffed them back into the empty bag. He said "yeah, my parents live in Houston" as he rolled the bag of trash down. Then he glanced over to me and said "what zone are you Dee?" I paused a minute... and then - DUH - realized I needed my ticket to answer him. So I spent a short forever riffling through my giant hobo purse to find my ticket, peaked at it and said "Zone 3." I looked up at Dan, blushing now... he smirked and kinda chuckled "me too."

Sunday, August 31, 2008


So Dan took his duffle bag and left to get lunch (or whatever the heck the meal was) from "Best Burger." I had been in the airport scene for so long that his company was refreshing. I wanted nothing more to do with my dull book, my eyes were so sick of words on a page... that I found myself wanting to talk to this guy. I wanted to tell him where I was going, and why I was going... and what I was going to do when I was there. - But then I "checked myself" and thought "but he doesn't care, he is a stranger." A stranger, yeah, but a stranger that was buying me a strawberry shake at 10 in the morning. Now that is "strange." ;)

I could see "Best Burger" from where I was sitting, and the line was long even though it wasn't a definite breakfast or lunch time. In the airport it's always some sort of snack time though, and meals overlap, double-up, get missed, etc. So there is always a reason to eat. Earlier that day I saw a couple eating Chinese food at 8am. Yikes - that would be a tough breakfast for the tummy! Anyway, so I could see Dan and his duffle standing in line with about 15 other hungry or not-hungry (just bored) people. I am pretty sure Dan was hungry, because he had asked me "do you want anything from Best Burger?" with such enthusiasm. I think that's why I felt that I should take him up on the offer. Like, if I didn't I'd be missing out or possibly make him miss out on the fun of it. Gosh, am I crazy? - reading into this stupid little situation WAY too much? Why did it matter and why was I so obsessed with this encounter? I guess it was the mystery of our strange meeting over spilled coins, the peculiar soldier, his duffle bag... and something else. - but what?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mysterious Duffle-Bag

"Ummmmm..." I delayed my response while wondering if there was a reason I should lie to this guy and tell him the seat was taken? "No!" I exclaimed, "that seat is open." Just as I said that a giant green duffle-like bag plopped into the empty seat... and he sat down in the seat beside his bag. We sat in a row: me, the enormous bag and then him. He pulled out a little notebook and started reading it, adding scribbles to it periodically. I realized he was just going to keep to himself, so I pulled my book back out and tried to read it.

My mind drifted though, to the big bag next to me. I wondered what it was packed so tightly with, why it was SO jam packed? From the corner of my eye I caught a stamped name on his bag that read "Douglas." Guess that was his last name. What a boring name, I thought. It's like his whole life must be inside this bag, it was bulging and ripped in spots. The fabric was definitely stretched to the max. This bag must have weighed a hundred pounds.

The mystery of this bag was within, the outside was stark. I realized I was being a "snoop," and shifted my eyes back down to my boring book. I had been "reading" more from this duffle bag than the book in front of me! Just as I forced myself back to reading, the soldier next to me asked "Are you going to Houston, flight 240?" I replied yes, and explained that they delayed the flight because of the storms. Told him I was waiting around to hear an update, but that there had been no news yet. "I see, cool... so I have time to get food?" "Oh yeah," I replied. Then he looked over at me and asked "Do you want anything from Best Burger?" I wasn't really hungry because I had been munching on airport food all day, but had a feeling he wanted me to eat something with him... so I said "sure, how about one of their strawberry shakes, I'm in the mood for something sweet. Oh and, here, use this pile of change to pay - it's weighing my purse down." He smiled and said "Cool. I'm Dan by the way... what's your name?" "Dee," I replied, "thanks."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I turned around quickly, because the tap startled me, I had just drifted off into my "zone." I spun around, and came face to face with a guy I didn't know. I swirled around in my seat so quickly that we ended up nearly kissing. Quickly, I realized the awkward closeness and pulled away. When I zoomed back I got the full picture. A soldier sat in the row of seats behind me, reaching his arm out with a handful of change. He was in an Army uniform, the modern camo print I recognized from t.v. He was a big guy, but not bulky-big, strong I suppose. He had light brown hair and green eyes. He looked tired and I wondered why the heck he'd bother returning my stray coins.

"Your change?" he asked again. I was just staring at him, and then loudly blurted out "YEAH." He leaned back, and said "well here you go" waiting for me to put out my hands. It took me a minute to catch on, and then I reached out my hands after a delay. He poured about $5 spare change in my cupped hands. The coins jingled and glimmered as they fell from his hands to mine. My hands were tiny compared to his, and they filled up quickly. One coin spilled over the mound and fell to the floor. He grabbed it and said "huh - that's the year I was born." I sat there with my little hands cupped around roughly 5 bucks in change, and asked him when that was? 1980, he said - with a drawn out yawn. I thanked him, sensing he was tired and had to get going. He looked down at the seat next to me and asked "is anyone sitting here?"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spare Change

I don't like waiting in the airport all alone. At first, some time to myself seemed nice, but that got old fast. Traveling with someone makes waiting around seem less cumbersome and sort of in an odd way exciting. I guess because the situation is shared, and company is cherished.

I had been reading my book for about 3 hours, when my eyes could no longer read the letters on each page. My eyes were heavy but not tired, just tired of reading. Tired of staring, and my mind was tired of giving the book a chance to be great. It wasn't great and wasn't even interesting me. I was bored of doing everything people do when the are bored and waiting. So now what? Maybe I just needed coffee? Can't go wrong with that. At least it is something to do in a very simple sense. Wow, how lame... sipping coffee was something to do and pass time. Yeah, it was. Maybe I get a cookie too? Might be stimulation overload! No, I'll just get the coffee, I decided. A cookie might make me even more anxious to get out of the terminal than I already was.

I waited in a ridiculously long line at the little coffee shop. I could have wandered down into another gate, but didn't want to miss any important updates about my flight. After waiting in line for about 5 minutes, I placed my order at the counter and waited another 2 minutes for the slow coffee shop workers to bring me my toffee flavored coffee. I dug deep down in my big purse for some change, and came up with a handful. As I was sorting through the handful for $1.85, my klutzy hands caved and the whole pile fell to the floor. There must have been ten dollars in change swirling and clinking beneath. The strangers in the line behind me glared, crossed their arms, tapped their feet and huffed to express their impatience. Several people helped pick up the coins that were right at their feet, but nobody went out of their way to fetch me my spare change. Finally, after prowling around on the floor like a cat, I was able to come up with the $1.85, pay for my coffee and escape that klutzy, embarrassing moment.

I was blushing, and frazzled by that incident. I felt so stupid and out of place. I wasn't supposed to be in Atlanta, and it was really starting to annoy me. I realized I was teary eyed, on the verge of a cry attack. This tiny tiny glitch was about to set me into a tizzy. Thoughts of Tom flashed in my mind, along with all the other negative things that feed on weakness. So, I quickly found my way back to my gate and skimmed the area for a seat that was just as alone as I felt. I slumped down in the cold chair and sipped my coffee, hoping to get a grip, zone out and hear good news about my flight - soon.

Then, suddenly… I felt a light tap on my back and heard a guy say "Umm, I think this is some of your change."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Non, Non-Stop Flight

I got to the airport Saturday morning with tons of time to spare. Usually, I am the one running down the terminal halls screaming "wait, wait!" Not this time, I didn't want Leo's generosity to go to waist. So, I set every alarm in my apartment and got to my gate with over an hour to spare (that's good for me). Last night I cleaned out all the junk from my purse, so that I wouldn't be stuck in security all day.

With time to spare at my gate, it was like vacation. I had fun reading, sipping coffee and enjoyed one of those massive cinnamon buns that probably have about 2000 calories. Oh well, I don't care.

My flight out of New York, boarded right on time and took off smoothly. I am glad Leo remembered I like to sit by the window. I just hate being sandwiched between strangers... feeling forced to have a conversation that neither people are interested in. You know? I just wanted to zone out, look out the window, maybe fall asleep?

About an hour into our flight the sky had turned ominously dark and we were having major turbulence. The pilot came on to explain that there was a band of severe thunderstorms going right through our flight path, and that we would have to land in Atlanta to wait it out. Ugh, so much for my nice non-stop flight Leo arranged. I have such bad luck. If its not me getting into trouble its me getting run right over by it!

Our plane landed in Atlanta around 9:30am, still morning, but I worried we'd be stuck there all day. This would leave me with one day to visit Leo and his family - That's crazy!

While we were sitting on the busy, rainy, dark and super windy runway the flight attendant came on to give us an "important message." She explained that we should stay near the same gate came in from to be notified of updates on our flight. She also mentioned (in a really inappropriate cheerful pitch) that the entire city of Atlanta was under a tornado watch... and, that 2 tornados had touched down in western parts of town. The day continued to get gloomier. :(