I love flying across the country, but only if I get to go second, er economy class. I love it almost as much as when I tear one of my finger nails down past the quick, and after I get all that mess trimmed up as best I can, then there is still that little flap of tissue; not quite finger nail, not quite skin, that sticks out there, rich with unprotected nerve endings, that always seems to get snagged whenever, without thinking I jam my hand into my pocket. I love flying across the country almost that much, maybe just a little less.
Hey, I love my wife's family in the mountains of West Virginia though. They are incredibly sweet and gracious, they always look past my rough edges and treat me like they have just been waiting for me to drop out of the sky and land on their door step. I could take a lesson.
They dote on me, go out of their way to make me feel as comfortable as possible. They plan ahead to assure that good things happen and bad things don't. They buy a little bag of Starbucks coffee and set it and the Mr Coffee machine out on the counter so I can make coffee whenever I want.
Her mom makes incredible meals (ooh those hot rolls from scratch!), fried chicken, home canned green beans, baked ham, Aunt Elm's apple dumplings for dessert, well you get the picture. And after I have eaten more than a polite visitor should, they always ask "Would you like anything more?" And after I assure that I am full, too full actually, there is always that last entreaty: "Are you sure?" This has become our little joke. In fact, often when I say "No thank you", I will add "... and I'm sure." which usually brings a laugh.
The best memories: Sitting on the porch as dusk descends. A car goes by occasionally, a dog barks off in the distance, we talk softly and watch the lightening bugs put on their show. And the night before we leave: Every one is a little bit frazzled for all the fun we've been having for a week (hey, having fun is work!) so sitting peaceful in the living room, no TV, just sharing stories about the past. They tell stories on the young girl that Mrs C was and I regale them with famous tales from my family's past. They make all that fun and games on the plane and in the airports worth it.
I'm changing though. I'm sure they were a little worried when, after arriving and paying my respects I almost immediately slipped into a semi-comatose state and slept for the better part of 32 hours. I guess I'm not a kid any more. Except for when it comes to thinking ahead.
You see, Mrs C left a week before me, and while she was away and Chairman Meow and I were batching it, I tried to get a few house projects done. The kind that require leaving a good selection of tools and parts laying around the house over the course of a couple days. Making a big mess obligates that you make sure the project gets done, and then the big mess gets cleaned up. Chairman does a great job of 'inspecting'. He's particularly good at inspecting the tiniest nooks, crannies, drawers, cubbies, carpet roll tubes, that sort of thing. Boxes with Styrofoam peanuts are his specialty. He's not much help when it comes to cleaning up those peanuts and their little styro-pill fragments though.
Well where I was going with this, the 'planning ahead' part, is that all this bachelor project frenzy lead to a string of late nights. And then the trip to the east coast started with a 6:00 am flight from Seattle. And a 6:00 am flight require a 2:00 am wake up. All of which is the exact wrong preparation for all the love that comes with a flight across the country. (remember how I said how much I love it?)
Of course one can always sleep on the plane, right? What, sleep and miss
all the chumminess of the big guy in the seat next to you helping you fill up your seat? The incredible microscopic bag of pretzels, the bad air, the hilarious broken head phones? Not to mention the amazing, magical expansion of time? You know, when you wait for approximately one hour and 45 minutes between peeks at your watch, and then notice that a mere 23 minutes has elapsed. The funhouse chair that won't recline? Who could sleep through that?
And how about all those TSA people in the airports? Don't you feel a lot safer knowing that everyone is taking off their shoes in the airport? My how times have changed. You know it wasn't that long ago that if you would have taken your shoes off in an airport you would likely have been apprehended by 'the authorities' for questioning at least.
On the return trip we travelled at a more civilized hour: An early afternoon flight out of Dulles in Wa DC ... on a Friday. A 6:00 am flight has it's short comings but you have a pretty good chance of planes departing on time. Also, not so many people want to fly that early in the morning so there is a chance that the seat next to you may not be occupied. A mid-afternoon flight, on a Friday (after a day of violent storms in Chicago) means, more people flying, (heading somewhere, maybe home) and some catching up from the rash of cancelled flights the day before, and a pretty good chance of flight delays.
Our delayed start from DC made for an exciting dash from the C terminal to the B terminal in Chicago to make that connection. We had about 16 minutes to make this dash. Much to my amazement I was racing to keep up with Mrs C. She REALLY wanted to make that flight. The stewardess had told us it would depart on time. The good news is we made it in under 16 minutes! The not so good news is we were delayed an hour in the terminal while they made repairs at the ramp. After an hour we were told to report to another gate as those repairs were unsuccessful and we would be taking a different plane. More waiting while 'maintenance' was performed on this plane. I was concerned as we sat on the plane listening to the pilot assure us that the maintenance was just routine, all the while the reading lights randomly flashed up and down the aisle. I really love flying across the country, so glamorous.
Well any way we are all back home. Chairman spent the week a the kitty spa (more like juvenile detention). He's got a rep there, when we went and sprung him Saturday morning they asked us to get him out of his 'holding cell'; None of the girls wanted to risk it. I believe he may be happier than me to be back here in our great little house. Much head butting and whiny meowing, oh and that passionate fingernail kneading on the thighs! And of course underfoot at every step, he's keeping an eye on his pesky humans.
It's great to go visiting, but it is great to have such a cozy place to come home to.