Remember all that talk about airports and germs from my last post Airplane.? Is it any big surprise that at some point during last week’s travels those nasty little creepers infiltrated my system? It shouldn’t be. This happens literally EVERY TIME I FLY. We have theories on why I am the germ magnet I am. We believe this mostly circles around the fact that I stress myself the hell out trying to get everyone pulled together enough for traveling. By the time I even enter an airport my immune defenses are nearly non existent due to my frazzled mental state. My other theory is that no matter how exhausted I am when I make it to my location I go straight in to vacation party mode. Last week that meant not even considering any sort of time change and partying all night with one of my cousins. She and I both left our kids at home so I convinced her to drink with me at a brewery until last call and flirt with random other pregaming wedding guests. I may be a bad influence on her. She loves me anyway.
Was I shocked when I woke up the morning of the wedding not just hungover but also with the beginnings of some sort of illness? No, I was in denial. I gave that wedding my damn all and did everything I could to get the most out of my time there. Not to mention I really did want to be there for the cousin getting married, so I ended up taking on responsibilities to help her out. For instance since the wedding was outside in a public area I helped control traffic during family photos, preventing the many stoned people of this hippie town from photobombing. To that one lady who had to be a nasty witch about being asked to wait for like ten seconds: I am so sorry for whatever happened in your life that made you this way, but good lord you are an unpleasant person! Seriously, there is always one.
Waking up the next morning congested with crackling in my left ear I knew that flying was going to be even more awesome than usual. Probably just about as fun as it was last year going from LA to Seattle with a double ear infection. Let me tell you guys, freaking agony. I mean the CIA could totally use this as a torture method. Non stop layovers from city to city, they’d have like a ninety nine percent success rate by the third flight. Remember, there’s always one asshole guys. I pounded down the Sudafed and ibuprofen (and the Lorazepam, don’t forget the Lorazepam) and prepared myself for the worst.
Take off wasn’t too bad at least, I sat next to a family that was coming out to Atlanta to house hunt. Dad was some sort of successful doctor so I figured they’d be looking around Buckhead or the northern suburbs. I may have crushed Mom’s dreams when I told her they really didn’t want to live near midtown especially if planning to send kids to public school. You know what, she crushed my self identity by telling me I don’t sound like I am from LA I sound like I’m from Atlanta. I think we’re even. She wanted her husband to have a short commute, yah good luck lady, Atlanta traffic, remember guys?
Anyway it was the landing that killed me. My ear turned into a fiery sun demon with a vendetta against me. I was pretty positive my eardrum was in the process of rupturing. The doctor moving to Atlanta was going to have to perform emergency surgery as we landed. In no way did it help that Hartsfield Jackson was the target of one of those Atlanta rolling storms that lasts for thirty minutes but causes everything to come to a complete halt. There was talk of diverting, then our freaking thrill seeking sadistic pilots were like, “Hell yah!!! Who’s ready for a wild ride? This landing is our bitch!!!” They came on the intercom in that calm put you to sleep pilot voice and said, “Uh, it looks like it’s going to be bumpy going into Atlanta folks. We’ll be landing in about fifteen minutes.” Due to my ear fire and the death defying stunts of our pilots I have chosen to block the trauma of the following fifteen minutes out of my mind. After running out of the jet way (Yep, I figured out the name of the damn tunnel thing) screaming with tears streaming down my face I worked on finding my car. Three hours later I was finally on my way home.
At this point I was clearly sick. Fever chills took over my body and I could no longer breath through my nose. The remainder of my week has been spent in a fog of illness. By Tuesday the ear fire had migrated to my throat and I was living off of Sudafed and ibuprofen. My brain was no longer processing rational thought and my sleep schedule was a complete mess from the time change. I briefly considered going to the doctor but was pretty sure all they were going to tell me to do is rest. You guys I have not “rested” in twelve and a half years. See, I’m one of those “involved” parents. Resting to me is hitting a comatose state at nine thirty at night and weeping silently into my third glass of wine.
Luckily for me this was a less life threatening situation than I originally predicted. As of today I am actually breathing somewhat normally and I no longer seem to have a fever. However it was no surprise when middle kid came in from the bus yesterday looking like crap. I can only assume that my entire family will fall victim to airport plague over the upcoming weekend. Sigh, I should probably just go buy stock in Kleenex and Sudafed now.
I’ve always loved airports. Maybe that’s weird, I don’t know, but I love them. Today I’m on my way back to Cali for my cousin’s wedding. I’m a little giddy at the prospect of having an excuse to make my way through the full airport experience that comes along with cross country travel. It’s the first trip I’ve taken on my own in five years and I plan on soaking up every minute of the freaking freedom. Honestly, I thought we were going to have a slew of weddings to go to over the past thirteen years since my husband and I got hitched, but this is only the third. Most of my cousins either eloped or are not married yet, which seems weird to me. Not the eloping, the not being married. Not in like a what the heck is wrong with them weird, like a what the hell would I do with myself if I didn’t have all these people to take care off all the time weird. I feel like I would accomplish so much if I had that kind of freedom. Man can you imagine? Deciding what I wanted to do with my evenings and weekends. Having a schedule that allowed me to take advantage of those airline deals where you can go to Hawaii for like sixty five dollars? Plus I would actually have the sixty five dollars to spend on myself! Seriously though I would probably just waste time and money on getting my nails done and drinking a ridiculous amount of Starbucks.
Whatever I’m getting all ADD, point is this cousin is finally getting married. Which means I get to hit up Hartsfield Jackson, which for me is like an added bonus to the whole thing. For those of you who don’t know Hartsfield Jackson is the massive international airport in Atlanta. Delta basically owns half the place. Which is funny since today is the first time I have EVER flown Delta either into or out of Atlanta. No surprise the entire south terminal is Delta flights only. As I made my way through mid town in rush hour traffic I came to the realization that I have no idea where the parking is for the South Terminal. Nor do I know how to get into the actual terminal to the security checkpoint after I park. The prospect of trying to figure this out induces a mild panic attack, you have to understand Atlanteans don’t do the driving so good. You’ve either got someone next to or in front of you going a nice steady five mph under the speed limit, or you’ve got the next team of stunt drivers for The Fast and the Furious cutting in and out of lanes. Combine that with the giant pickups with camo themed bumper stickers blocking your view, the worst road engineering possible, and the hide and seek sign placement game we like to play and you’ve got driving in Atlanta in a nutshell. So here I am knowing I’ve got to bring my A game to have any chance of not missing my parking exit and having to completely recircle the airport. The sun is totally working with me of course, if by working with me you mean blinding me despite my defensive tactics of using sunglasses and my car’s sun visor.
Victorious I eventually find a spot in the economy lot and look like a crazy parking lot paparazzi lady as I take pictures of all the parking signs anywhere near my car. To be fair the first time I flew back into Hartsfield Jackson I couldn’t find my car and spent about an hour at ten o’clock at night walking through empty economy lots trying to find it. Hopefully we won’t have to repeat that. I know there are no guarantees though. I mean shit like that is just kind of my MO. Pray for my safe return.
I realize that the South Terminal parking is right next to a runway. I can smell the jet fuel as I try to hustle to the terminal. Hustling because, yah okay, I might have left the house like half an hour later than I should have, and you know, Atlanta traffic. Planes are taxiing by and I watch them, kind of fascinated by the huge beasts, until one kicks up their engine. I feel the adrenaline shoot through me at the sound of take off, my brain actually processing that I am going to be in one of these monstrosities miles above ground in about an hour. I said I like airports guys, I HATE flying. Like with a burning passion. I despise flying in an I have to mix psychiatric drugs with alcohol to even step foot on a plane way. So when this stupid plane which is about to take off kicks it’s shit into gear I start to lose it. I think I even started to walk faster to escape the horror happening on the runway, which is such a contrary reaction since I am walk towards boarding a plane. Whatever brain, you just keep chillin up there all fercockt and shit(Yiddish lesson for the day guys). I’ve got lorazepam in my bag, I take note reminding myself to pop a pill or two (or ten) once I make it through security.
I make it into the South Terminal and decipher the signs that eventually lead me to security. I’m regretting my shoe choice now. I’ve walked about fifteen miles and my cute strappy sandals aren’t keeping up. Oh well, fashion bitches! They’ve got the dogs out which makes me weirdly happy. I love these security dogs. They are the goodest of boys you guys (Reddit for the win). This is where we get to the point of why I love airports so much, no not because of the dogs. I love airports because I love watching people, and what better sample of the human population do you encounter than in an airport. I love imagining up people’s backstories and putting them in their character category in my mind. I speculate on where their heading and what their actions say about them. I decide this one guy I keep passing in the snake like security line has got to be an athlete. He’s tall and lean but still built, traveling light with kick ass headphones. He reminds me of my brother, therefor I have dubbed him an athlete. I see a couple of kids in line with their moms. I have to refrain from making some sort of mom power arm signal to these women. Trust me ladies I’ve been there, solidarity. When one of the kids passes by me with his finger stuck up his nose I have to stop myself from knocking his hand away from his face. Mom instincts, they replace all social norms. I see a couple of asian girls snapping away pictures on their phones. I text husband and ask him if he thinks I should start taking selfies from all angles while I wait in the security line. I REALLY want to but I decide I don’t want to upset fido’s bomb sniffing groove so I refrain.
I make it through security only getting minorly annoyed with the couple in front of me. Alright, for those who do not know here is the proper security line etiquette: DO NOT take up the majority of the baggage belt by separating every bag, jacket, and electronic you own. About three hours later I finally reach over and grab my shit. I move quick while carrying my laptop in my arms until I make it to a bench, I will not be the slow person. Now it’s plane train time peeps! Hell yah! There’s nothing better than the flu infested plane train!!! Now you can catch everyone’s germs before you even board the plane! Except I realize as I go to board this thing that I have no idea what gate I’m headed to. I scramble to find Delta749 on the monitors and am glad to see that my gate is the first stop for the train. Less germ exposure and I can hopefully finally get some coffee.
It wasn’t really my fault per say that I was running behind schedule this morning. I had to get kids fed, packed, and ready for school and say lengthy goodbyes before I left the house. Husband was especially helpful today, standing in the kitchen making repeated half jokes about the plane leaving without me. Then actually starting to panic that I was going to actually miss my flight. He panicked, not me. I’m starting to wonder what he has planned this weekend that he was that freaked out about me sticking around. Remind kids to spy on dad. Really though, his barrage of criticisms on my time management was super helpful. I mean way more so than packing a lunch or two. Thanks sweet cheeks! Kisses! Needless to say in my rush I left my sweet sweet morning crack elixor (coffee, I’m talking about coffee guys) on the counter. I realized it about three minutes into my drive and burst into sobs much to the amusement of the commuter next to me. They may have been taking pictures. You know what, anyone would react this way with the journey I was about to endure! Atlanta traffic and Hartsfield Jackson without caffeine. Balls.
Once I peaced out from the plane train I made it my mission to find some damn coffee, oh and water and gum. The latter two being more easy to come by. Although the woman behind the counter at the marketplace store was probably literally half my height (homegrown amazon here) and couldn’t reach all the way over the counter. I have the fine motor skills of a chimpanzee so it was an awkward exchange. Now it was crunch time. Coffee. I was going to start taking people down soon if I didn’t get a hit. About halfway to my gate I find a Dunkin with an acceptable line length. I won’t have to shive other patrons in line to get my order in faster, hopefully. I bee line over cutting off a group of weary travelers on the way, I’d apologize, but I’m not sorry. Sorry.
To make my wait more bearable I watch what other people order, I wonder if they usually eat breakfasts like this or if their orders are enhanced because they’re traveling. Now don’t get me wrong I am in no way in the shape I should be, or have been in the past, but I also am not a big donut or morning carb person. I’m thirty five guys, not twenty two. I had a Yoplait at home, so really all I want is a damn cup of regular coffee. I notice that they are displaying a spring themed donut topped with sprinkles and a full sized candy peep. Yah, you know those marshmallow ducklings? They put one on a donut. To each their own but I’m pretty sure I would go into diabetic ketoacidosis if I tried to eat that thing. They end up putting the cream and sweetner in my coffee themselves and it tastes like syrup instead of coffee. I made myself drink half of it just so I was at a functioning level before I board the plane.
Sipping my cup of sugar I realized I still haven’t taken the lorazepam. All ninja like i try to dig my prescription bottle out of my bag, then sort through all the pills to find one of the tiny white dots of wonder. I know I’m not supposed to combine all my drugs in one bottle, but I like to travel light and I don’t like sounding like I’m walking around with a pharmacy in my backpack. I mean I’m not selling the shit, I don’t want to share. I haven’t had alcohol yet though, it’s only eight forty five in the morning. Like I’ve said before, I have standards. Besides I’m pretty sure they sell hard liquor on planes. I’ll get drunk after boarding.
Since a lot of the traveling I’ve done over the past few years has been for competitive sports trips, yah we’re one of those families, I’m used to traveling on base fares with the lightest luggage possible. I learned last night that the way Delta has their base fare set is to not give you a seat assignment until you show up at the gate. Meaning I have no idea where I’m sitting and I’m one of the last people to get on the plane. While I wait husband is texting me to annoy me about being late for the flight again. Seriously, what the fuck does he have planned??? He sends me a find my friend image showing me at the gate. I consider turning around and heading home to make sure he isn’t running a cult out of our basement. Pretty sure middle kid would be the leader of it if he was. I decide I don’t want to know what is happening in our basement, plausible deniability and all, and stay at the gate. I’m meeting my mother in California and she is seriously about to combust with excitement. Not over me, over the whole wedding. I’m not that exciting I promise. She is one of two people I know who don’t drink, she should. I may spike her soda at some point this weekend if she can’t calm her shit down. Right now she’s texting me asking if I’m at the gate yet, oh and also SHE CAN”T WAIT! I haven’t had enough coffee yet to deal with this level of crazy so I ignore the text and instead send one to husband asking if I should respond to her saying, “ I’m just parking but I’m so excited!!!” She has my flight schedule, I regret that decision now. she knows when my plane leaves. I think her brain would break if I sent her that text. She doesn’t get jokes.
After basically everyone else has boarded I finally get my seat number. I am just hoping it’s not a middle seat, I have about 40 pages I want to try and edit. This task is going to be really difficult without being able to move my arms or if I think someone is reading my seriously crappy rough draft over my shoulder. I get 19A, I can work with that, A is usually a window seat. I make my way brutally slowly with the heard of passengers down that tunnel thing, you know the tunnel thing… it make you go plane inside(I honestly don’t have a clue what that thing is actually called). Some guy in front of me really needs to brush his teeth. It’s gross. I text this to husband and then ask him if I should act like one of those super friendly bubbly people and offer everyone around me a piece of gum, you know, for their popping ears!
I finally make my way down the aisle. Businessmen who are clearly tragically optimistic that the free seat next to them will not be filled look at me with both resignation and hope in their eyes. No worry good sirs your plight will carry on, for I have procured myself a window seat… in the exit row! Leg room baby! I send husband a selfie and say, “Guess who’s in charge if there’s an emergency????” He texts back saying that we’re all doomed. I text the same thing to my mom, she tells me to have a nice flight and she’ll see me at the airport! I told you. She doesn’t get jokes.
I’ve gotten my Lorazepam and Caffeine fix so I’ll probably survive, for now. I plug in my ear buds and listen to “On A Plain” because I mean, come on. I watch out the window as we taxi to the runway calmer than I would be, but still kind of jumpy. Then that sound of the engine revving hits me and I know that’s it. There is no turning back at that point. It’s funny because even when I’ve flown sans chemical assistance I always resigned myself to the fact that after take off that’s it. If you’re going down you’re going down. You’re stuck now bitch, hahahahaha!
Well whatever. I guess I’ll enjoy my high, maybe get some questionable editing done and start drinking heavily if we hit turbulence. I mean it’s a wedding weekend right? Let’s get this party started! How early is too early to order tequila?
Off the coast of Georgia there is an island that seems to have come out of a children’s storybook. The weeping branches of the live oak trees are covered in Spanish moss. The moss like a lace adding even more charm to the winsome canopy above. The entire island a mystical place. The kind of place ripe for stories to be dreamt up and evolved. One can imagine it was once a home to pirates who left buried gold deep within the island’s terrain. Finding the lost treasures a quest only the bravest dare to attempt. I can only assume fairies and unicorns dwell in the enchanted surroundings. In reality there was a point when wild horses roamed free here, although they are no longer seen running through the marsh the way they once did.
At dawn golden rays of sun peek through the trees and moss. Hidden forest nymphs seemingly coax it back from it’s night time hiding place. Coral colored flowers grow on the vines climbing the trees trunks, the golden hue illuminating the various pinks and oranges in their petals. You find yourself wishing to be a wren so you can make a home in the canopy above. Blue bells and small palms grow on the ground. Pathways of fallen leaves guide your exploration of the terrain leading you to small ponds that appear unannounced through the brush. Turtles sun themselves on logs and elegant herons perch on the water’s edge. Deer feed on the flowers and grass growing from the surrounding land. The canopy above begins to sway as if in a delicate dance when the wind blows, so different from the harsh jerks of the pines on the mainland.
Eventually the maritime forest makes way to picturesque sand dunes. Small mountains of sand and plant growth giving only a peak at the blue waters of the Atlantic. Green sea grasses pop up shielding sea turtle nests in spring and summer. Closer to the water the growth on the pale hills becomes sparse, the sand becoming soft beneath your feet. Sea birds fly over head and the sound of crashing waves lead you forward to the shore.
Meeting you on the east side of the island are long wide beaches. The tide migrates a wondrous amount through the day, the push and pull of the moon dictating the constant waltz. During low tide sandbars allow foot travel far out into the waves granting you the ability to look back at a distant shore in wonderment. At the water’s edge pastel colored clams dig their way through the sand, only to be pulled up again by rolling waves. Whitecaps dot the water when storms form off the coast and the wind whips past. Ships can be seen coming in and out of port taking the northern chanell leading inland. Fishing vessels and large cargo ships loaded with crates are spotted far out in the Atlantic. Pelicans scoop down toward the water in front of you and small plover birds take quick steps through water pooling in the sand. Dolphins pass by from time to time, if you are lucky you will catch them frolicking in the water. Their fins peek at you as they flip and spin, seeming to turn catching their meals into more play than work.
The beach at the top of the island is slowly erroading away. The currents carrying and depositing the northern sand to the south end of the island. The island is rolling itself down the coast, allowing us only a brief glimpse of its current state. The erosion causes the northern tree line of the forest to push back resulting in mighty trees that once grew tall and free to wither and grey. Left behind is a graveyard of driftwood. Ghosts and skeletons haunting the sand in a mesmerizing reminder of what was. Fascinating mazes of geometrical roots create natural lines that can be traced for hours, and ladders of bare branches beg to be climbed. When the tide recedes pools of salty water collect at the base of the phantom trees. Small fish swim in these warmer pools, waiting for the tide to rise again and sweep them back to sea. Hermit crabs crawl on the roots and trunks, using the wood as shelter.
Slowly city dwellers are discovering the magic of the Island. While historic buildings show proof of years of settlements, the Island was never largely populated. The addition of luxury hotels and shops now drawing in suburbanites looking for a brief escape in the spring and summer. The location no longer quite the whispered secret it once was. While I hesitate to share this secret I will still invite you to come and find the fairy tale for yourself. See the resorts, follow the bike paths, help build the tourism economy in this tiny piece of heaven. Me, I was never one for the resorts or fancy shops. You’ll find me with the wood nymphs and fairies camping in the forest. I’ll wake to the golden sun filtering in through the branches and moss, and the sounds of the lucky birds who spend their days in paradise. I’ll follow the unpaved paths wondering about buried gold, and eventually find that the treasure was always the island itself.