I wake up sometime around 4am on August 13. My cell phone says a text message awaits. The screen glows, and the words register in my brain, and not too long after my reply, Becky calls me from a stake youth dance she and Karl are chaperoning. We discuss a possible change in plans. We decide to mentally prepare for extra visitors, in case they show up in the next few days.
If the plane had departed as originally scheduled Thursday night, it would have arrived early Saturday morning. Friday would have disappeared, and maybe I would have been more confused, jetlagged, cranky, premenstrual. Who knows.
I go back to sleep for two more hours. Then I wake up, shower, dress, and catch the shuttle to the airport. Not sure which gate to report to, I check through security and follow the vaguish signs to where I think I’m supposed to be. I see my airline’s counter, but no gate assignment. But the neighboring attendants guess for me, and I doubtfully nod. Then one of the airport employees confirms it. I look for the friend I made yesterday, but it looks like she hasn’t shown up yet. I’ll know I’m in the right place if I see her.
She lives in Sydney. She attended a friend’s wedding Dallas, where she went to “uni.” She’s lived in Sydney for five years, something she never originally intended. She was cool; I wish I’d gotten her name.
Burger King is the closest food place, so I order one of those croissanwiches with ham, egg, and cheese. I try to eat slowly, but hunger commands, and obedience is mandatory.
Two hours before the plane is scheduled to depart, I sit in the waiting area. I’m texting several people, reading a book, and listening to music to pass the time.
I can’t sleep.
A few guys catch my eye, guys I hope are single and traveling alone. Guys I hope have a seat near mine.
The cabin crew starts to congregate near the desk. Uncannily, they are all unbelievably attractive. All I can do is shake my head and smirk. And text friends about it. They seem happy for me, like it’s a really nice unbirthday gift. That’s fun.
I plug my phone into a charging station and sit down to flip through a few more pages of Cold Sassy Tree. It’s getting close to boarding time, and since I didn’t sleep well, I’m anxious to get settled on the plane.
My friend from yesterday appears. I feel a lot better.
The time for boarding has passed. The time for departure has passed. We’re still grounded. Violent thoughts sneak into my mind, and all of a sudden I’m texting friends about my desire to punch babies.
Finally, somebody gives the okay to board, and it doesn’t take very long at all for us to get on and find our seats. I’m in 21C:
So I sit down and let the person by sitting in 21A. She seems quiet and friendly enough. She’s wearing a pink shirt and has a tattoo of the state of Texas on her inner left forearm. She wears rainbow ink on her left wrist. No one sits between us. Cool.
The plane takes off, and I explore what’s on offer for in-flight entertainment. Not a bad selection of movies, television, music, and games. However, I end up sleeping until the first meal. When the cart stops at our row, the other girl and I choose the same main dish. It’s not bad, but as you can tell, not all that memorable. The list of beverages runs through my head, and I know I have to stay hydrated, so it’s juice for me. That’s in addition to the bottles of water they handed us earlier.
Sleep visits sporadically yet intensely, and in between naps, I read, write, watch Fantastic Mr. Fox and Date Night; I listen to a lot of music, work on crossword puzzles, and kick another passenger’s butt at Battleship. I get up to refill my bottle and grab sandwiches and cookies from the food kiosk, and I flirt with very well-behaved babies. No punching whatsoever.
Then, right under my nose, Saturday happens.