Pam moved. I’ve been moving. But now I’m done moving. Oh, wait. No, I’m not.
I just spent five days at the hippie wedding of two of my best friends in rural central Oregon, three hours from the nearest international airport. Five days of swimmin’ in the ol’ swimmin’ hole and whitewater rafting and spending more time with some people in this one week than I have in total so far this year. That made it fun. Since I was a member of the wedding party, I also had a tremendous amount of responsibility, and the sight of me wearing a bathing suit and a concerned scowl running across a grassy expanse holding a manila folder brimming with papers was not an uncommon one. I was the picture of crisp efficiency. I couldn’t get people to stop telling the groom what an “old soul” he was in three consecutive days of toasts, but other than that the whole thing a total success. Except that my pilot also gave the couple a toast as the plane was leaving Portland and they weren’t even on the plane. No, he didn’t. But I can’t believe he didn’t. Because, I mean, everybody else did.
Now, it’s not like I travel all the time, but I’ve flown the distance back and forth across this country enough times to have made one simple cardinal rule about air travel. And that rule is: “Life’s too short to switch planes in Denver.” I will travel out of state to get the direct flight, and had to do just that, in fact, booking my flight to Portland out of Newark Airport. My flight was to leave on Wednesday morning, so Tuesday night I had planned to drive to my sister’s house in northern Jersey, stay the night, eat dinner with her and her husband and my adorable and perfect niece and nephew, drive to Newark Airport the following morning, leave the car in long-term parking, and pick it up when my flight arrived back in New Jersey on Sunday evening. The perfect crime.
Until the car didn’t start. I conjured a tow truck to my car’s location, but after a jump that didn’t jump and a can of gas that didn’t gas (I became convinced during my two-hour wait for the truck that someone had stolen my gas right out of the tank. Shut up), the tow truck guy told me the closest Saturn dealership had closed and that there was nothing he could do. And then he left. All those cranes and levers and pulleys and he never even showed intent to tow. Shut up, tow guy. The next tow truck came from the town my parents live in, and it towed the car forty miles to a dealership that had a drop box where he could just leave the car overnight. Thank you, suburbs. Thank you, mom, for picking up my car when it was fixed. Eff you, $200 towing fee. I know. I’m a diva. I made my mother pick up my car. But what the hell else was I going to do? I don’t have the chance to invoke the “but I was in rural Oregon” defense that often, so I’m going to go for it here.
It could have been so much worse, I argued to myself during this lengthy opportunity for introspection. It could have happened on Sunday at midnight in the long-term parking lot at Newark Airport after a six-hour flight. It could have happened when I was driving Pam up to see her mom. It could have happened in a box with a fox. But, in other news, it could have just NOT HAPPENED AT ALL.
The following morning, after a 4:30 AM alarm, a subway, a train, a shuttle, a purchase of the new Vanity Fair, a misguided trip to McDonalds, and a walk, Tracie and I met at Newark Airport. She was flying in from Providence and transferring to my flight that left from a few gates down, so I actually got to meet her incoming flight at the gate, just like in the olden days. Our flight was a delightful mix of a ninety minute delay and a showing of Johnson Family Vacation, which was an amazing pick on account of it not being Starsky & Hutch. Have you flown recently? Do you feel like there are movies being made just to fill a quota of lame movies worthy only of being shown on airplanes? Then you’ve seen Starsky & Hutch.
It was on the cramped (well, not for me, as the driver) three hour drive to Bend that Tracie and I actively started to turn the whole thing into an episode of The Amazing Race. It was on the cramped three hour drive back to Portland in the pelting rain through mountains and sheer rock cliffs and weather so loud we couldn’t hear the radio that Tracie and I actively started to turn the whole thing into an episode of Punk’d.
On the flight back to New York (well, New Jersey), they really, actually showed Starsky & Hutch. I think it was the fifth time it’s played on an airplane I’ve been on, so I finally let the badgering work its insidious magic and I watched the whole thing. When it was over, I got up to use the restroom, and I walked past a gentleman watching a portable DVD player, on which was unspooling…Starsky & Hutch. I can’t believe the whole plane didn’t just disappear into the matrix. But the direct flight action worked out blissfully, and we landed ten minutes early, while other flights with our friends on them 1) missed their connections in Cincinnati and 2) missed their connections in Chicago. People? Life’s too short to…well, you know.
And, as of five minutes ago, I’m going to LA next week. I’ve never said the words “Okay, but I must fly business class” with a straight face before, but it seemed like the appropriate time to test-drive said sentiment seeing as I haven’t flown all the way across the country since YESTERDAY.