Monday, August 07, 2006

Chapter 2, in which I actually leave!

I went home, had a screwdriver, and slept. My phone rang. I looked at the number, which started with +46.


I picked up the phone and leaped out of bed. Phone calls are better standing up. Shut up, they totally are. Especially at 4am. Yes, oh yes, it was 4am. I should be at the Stockholm airport. Oh god, they're probably at the airport waiting for me. They didn't get my message!

The woman on the phone was very kind and asked if I was still coming. Yes, yes, I said. "I emailed! I emailed. And the rain! Oh, the rain and the waiting! I missed my flight." She was confused: someone else had come through on the Newark-Stockholm flight (oh, thank god she didn't drive all the way out to the airport just for me). Yes! I exclaimed! I never made it out of Greensboro. Ahh, she said. I gave her my new information, finally confident that I would indeed be picked up when I got there, and went back to bed.

In the morning DJ picked me up and drove me to the airport in his Massive Van. At first he gave me a bit of flack for my giant bag, and then praise when he found out it was full of camping stuff.

I went, as I do, to the self check-in, a little gun shy now. And it didn't find my reservation. My heart seized even as I read that it might be because my tickets had been changed so much. All I had to show for my tickets was a bit of paper from a dot matrix printer with a slew of characters that made no sense to me but theoretically meant I was getting to Sweden. Right? RIGHT?

I handed the bit of paper (complete with holes on the sides! Remember that? Aw, memories...) and he got on the phone and talked very quietly to someone. So quietly I couldn't hear him. Breathing, breathing. "It's going to work out, right?" I asked him. "It should," he replied.

It should?!

In the end I got my tickets and went through security (a different terminal this time! What fun!), and managed to get on the plane and off to Philadelphia. Step one was finally completed, and it only took me two days.

Finally in the air!

I realized that I hadn't told Andrea that she shouldn't pick me up on Friday, so I called her and related my Tragic Tale of Woe, and asked if she could switch the pickup date to Saturday, knowing that since she had family in town, the answer was likely no. She couldn't, and that was fine. So I called Kate and we talked for ages, and if you were in the Philadelphia airport last Sunday and saw a woman doubled over with laughter in the magazine store, hi, that was me.

And I decided that since it was after noon, and since I had been so harangued (har!) by the elements, I deserved this:

I chatted with a nice punk couple and another gentleman at the bar. We were all on the same flight. Punk couple was going on a whim for his birthday present (she was a modern dancer -- didn't see that one coming), other gentleman was catching up with his fiancee who performs on cruises. He'd catch the cruise and tool around the ocean with her. Neat.

It's possible I also had a beer in addition to the martini.

They squeezed us on the plane, and I found myself in an aisle seat. Ick. I tried to get comfortable enough to sleep, but HAH!, I laugh! Yes. I laugh.

There were movies, though! "Firewall" and "The Shaggy Dog." Dear god. I watched more of them than I'd care to admit. Why would they show those? I mean for serious. On British Air we got our own screen and a selection of movies. Not so much on US Air. Bah.

And dinner! There was dinner. I chose the beef instead of the pasta, because I am incredibly stupid. The "meal" consisted of this:

(Pardon the blur: the woman next to me was sleeping and I didn't want to wake her). Let's explore this meal, shall we? Up at the top left you'll see, sitting at an angle, a sponge, or what US Air likes to call "bread." It came with butter, which had melted in the bottom of the tray. Underneath that you'll see two crackers which came with a slice of cheese, packaged in indestructible plastic.

The top right corner contains a "salad" (unseen), which, as I can recall, consisted of iceburg lettuce and carrot bits. For your eating pleasure, there was some kind of dressing provided, pictured middle. I don't remember what variety it was, but I do remember it was "lite."

And now, the -- ah ha, ah hahaha -- meat of the matter. Let's take a closer look:

To your left, modeled by the beautiful spork, we have canned green beans and corn, which wouldn't be crisp if you froze them. To the right we have shredded beef in brown goo. And the middle! Well, that's my favorite. That, my friends, is a mashed potato log. It was cylindrical. Yes it was. I imagine that it also came out of a can.

Apparently US Air is catered by Schoolroom Lunches, Inc.

I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep, since I had nothing to lean on, and the space in front of me was too small to put the tray table down and rest on that. Can you imagine? Too small to lean forward!

So I alternated between resting my head on the seat in front of me, twisting left, twisting right, giving up on sleeping, watching the movies, feeling pain from said movies, and repeating. It wasn't until an hour before we landed that I got comfortable enough to sleep. Isn't that funny? I also was laughing.

Upon landing I breezed through customs (the Swedes are so civilized -- the one line I had to wait in was only two people deep), found my bag and my ride, got exceptionally confused at the ATM (7 kr to the dollar -- you have ten seconds to try and figure out how much you'll need for a week. Go!), and set off for camp!

There wasn't much to say about the ride except that 1. a half of a bee flew in through my window almost immediately upon leaving the airport (fiddle de dum, a-fiddle dee dee, Eric the half a bee), and 2. it mostly looked like this:

But I'd made it. It took me three days, but I made it to Sweden. The end. For now.

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