Mar 15, 2006

Meditations on the Portland Airport

I’ve been open to the idea of sleeping in an airport. Until tonight. The problem seems to be that it doesn’t actually work. Granted, the guy five chairs down from me is breathing evenly, occasionally slipping into a light snore; and the traveler-girl with the army green backpack and windbreaker has only rustled a few times. But still, it doesn’t work. Not only that, I’m starting to get hungry. My computer thinks its 4:30 AM (Pensacola time, where my trip started almost a week ago), my body thinks its 5:30 AM (Palm Beach time), and the clock says its 2:30 AM (Portland time, where I’ve just spent the last hour and a half trying to sleep, and the half-hour before that walking the C, A, and B concourses looking for an alive Alaska Airlines person. (Hint—they’re not alive at night, just the opposite, in fact.) To be true, the B concourse only consisted of three gates, but still… Not only have I taken to sleeping in random airports (my final destination is not any of the three aforementioned towns, of course), I have taken to doing it ugly. Yes, sorry to disappoint, but there it is. Were you one of the cleaning staff who occasionally putters by disturbing the sleeping innocent with wild chatter about the game, or were you the deep Archangel-type voice who periodically pulls me back from the brink of sleep to graciously remind me that due to increased security measures, I am only allowed one carry-on and one personal item per flight, and that only ticketed passengers can take off their sneakers and go through the x-ray torture lines, and that I must not (must not) leave my laptop-phone-wallet-passport-boardingpass-lipgloss-waterbottle-andeverythingmostnecessarytolife luggage conglomeration unattended (as I usually do in dark public places), then you would see a girl wearing—not contacts, not trendy glasses—but 80’s era round cokebottles that are three prescriptions too weak. So weak, in fact, I can’t tell which airline’s counters I’m passing. It makes for a very twilight-zone walk through deserted concourses. (I’m under strict instructions from my ophthalmologist friend—whose house I happened to be at just when my eye started watering mysteriously—to wear my contacts as little as possible for a few days. Hmph. I hope she appreciates the sacrifices involved.)

This trip has been opposed in every travel mode (car, bike, and plane), but I’ve no doubt it’s where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be. (Oh, I forgot to tell you the Starbucks here doesn’t open until 5 AM.) The car’s brakes gave out and the dealerships in the towns I was in said it would be a $1,000 repair; the bike’s thin tires couldn’t handle the sand of Sanibel Island and as a result I have a painful bruise on my ankle; and the wind in New Jersey has stretched my trip from Florida to Seattle into an almost 24 hour saga. On the plus side, I’ve been invited to Finland. And that comes after an invitation to Romania just yesterday. I doubt I’ll ever take advantage of these offers, but one never knows when one will need friends in foreign lands. Just so you know, the blueberries are sweeter and larger in northern Finland, due to the midnight sun. Oop. Snoring-boy has woken up. I hope it’s not due to my typing noises. (The very comforting thing about walking around wearing cokebottles? I’m not afraid of anyone (except for the fact that they all look like dark blobs). One gains a great confidence with these things on. When it’s impossible to be uglier, life seems promising. I can now wander benevolently, gazing with compassion on those more fortunate than myself. Oh dear—like the pale red-head in first class whose blanket I snatched from the overhead bin, then meekly returned with a “would you like this one, sir?” when he popped up and began rustling around for one himself. “Sir”! I was instantly ashamed of myself. He was probably younger than me. “Sir”! Now that I think of it, he looked like a cousin I’ve only met once in adult life. “Sir”! Ah, the formalities due the poor who’ve paid an extra $500 dollars for their flight. They at least deserve their blankets, eh? Must get something tangible out of it besides the fun of watching (while pretending to not) all the economy class people herding past after you’ve already been seated. (Is that what first class is for, by the way? I’ve always been a little confused. They must pay all that money for something other than a glass of bubbly and seat-room extended by three inches all around.)

I intended to write, but in this mood I’m afraid I’d have my character thumbing her nose at all the rich and poor alike, and waltzing off onto tangents that would only make sense to a heroine living at least 1600 years later. In lieu, I’ll close up shop here and wander back over to Alaska Airlines. They have a flight leaving at 5 AM; perhaps someone will be manning the counter now that it is 3.

Too-da-loo, as Wooster would say! Love to you all,



Anna Peterson said...

Two sisters in glasses! I also have been wearing glasses, not contacts, all day for the second day in a row. My situation caused by a different sort of anatomical abnormality - a snuffy nose instead of watering eyes. Love you!

Anonymous said...

Concerning the cokebottle glasses, I can only exhort you with these words: "Let a holy woman, if naturally beautiful, give no one an occasion for carnal appetite. Certainly, if she be so, she ought not to set off her beauty, but even to obscure it." So in this regard, it seems you have done well.

On the other hand, remember these words: "These suggestions are not made to you, of course, to be developed into an entire crudity and wildness of appearance; nor are we seeking to persuade you of the good of squalor and slovenliness; but of the limit and norm and just measure of cultivation of the person." That means a little lip gloss is always a good idea, even in the airport at 2:30 am. ;-)

Did you get my email, peterdaughter? I need your mailing address.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That was... one of the best rants/monologues I've read in a while.
If you were a comedian, you'd be one of those deadpan ones that say something really outrageous or just unexpected while keeping a straight face.
Aiports suck.
Glasses are cute. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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