The first in a (theoretical?) series of postings from abroad.
8/22/11 – mon
AA #24 sfo – jfk
A mostly easy weekend of preparation in advance of our holiday – the first bona fide vacation in 5 years that involved just the two of us, away from home, in a new land, with absolutely no work. It helped to wrap up work by friday evening. That took until 8pm and then we had pizza and caught up on last season’s Dexter. On Saturday: a walk to cole street for minutiae – travel containers for lotions and potions – and a fresh bottle of my ubiquitous saline nasal spray with xylitol. (The xylitol, I’m told, fosters the growth of beneficial bacteria in the back of the nose.) Lunch ensued at the squat and gobble with our standard fare: salmon fusilli pasta for arvin and a mexican chicken salad for me (never stray!). In good holiday spirits my salad was accompanied by a very summerlike french rose. Perfect for a frigid summer.
Sunday was yoga in the morning for me, which was mostly good – I moved through the poses with focus and agility; and it was interesting – charu, my cosmic earth goddess instructor, indicated that we are transitioning from an era of homo sapiens to an era of homo galactins (an awareness given name by the inter-species communication class she’s just begun taking); and it was also kind of bad – I came out of meditation feeling like a failure: shirley maclaine figured into my assessment somehow – she of following truth, opening up to the mystic, me having accomplished very little in my 47 years as compared to her films and past life confessions. It left me with a sour taste in my brain and my heart, which was filled with openness, sweat and light, struggled to compensate. By nightall I was mostly ready for the trip, having rounded out my various ‘get me the hell out of here’ little tasks, my mood elevated by a list of things all crossed out.
The 4.15am alarm arrived on monday with me dreaming that it was 3.15am and I was already in the shower, noting almost proudly that I’d awakened early and hadn’t had any ‘airplane’ dreams – the kind where you dream you’re dreaming that you’re already awake.
Arvin’s alarm rang and we got out of bed, showered, had a sip of leftover coffee. Dumped the last bits of trash and rotting veggies down the chute.
Ordinarily I don’t mind christening the on-board restroom on airplanes but for some reason I didn’t feel like traveling with a bloated bowel today, so I went into the restroom and forced the issue, with moderate success. Just then my cell phone rang. “Taxi,” arvin called from the living room as I flushed. The taxi had arrived in front of our building as timely as a train in switzerland.
A taxi is not a hired car, however, and one worries that a taxista might not wait too long for you, or that someone will creep out into the darkened morning and abscond with your taxi if you dally gathering your things. For that reason, there’s always a pang of hurry and worry the moment a taxi arrives. A rapid brushing of the teeth is followed by a final glance around the place and an acknowledgment that whatever’s been forgotten is now officially left behind. Then there follows the mandatory check of the zippered compartment of the bag to make sure, again, that the passports haven’t jumped out of their own volition. (Because you know it’s possible. As a homo-galactic, I recognize that paper is made from trees and trees are living creatures and therefore the paper on which our passports are printed, and the sand and chemicals upon which their RFID tracking chips are based, possess vibrations. So it’s quite possible that the passports vibrated their way out of the pocket while I was ‘making a deposit’. Possible. But highly unlikely.)
I rushed out of the bathroom, slipped into my shoes and did the cursory last checks. Arvin stood by the door in his slacks, sports coat and modern pointy shoes: “On y va?”
In the past few years since the advent of online check-in, doing so for international flights wasn’t an option. At least it wasn’t a perk accessible to this mostly domestically voyaging iconoclast. It was with delight, then, that arvin and I arrived at SFO with our boarding passes, passports and carry-on baggage an hour and a half prior to departure without having to queue up for anything other than the obligatory security checkpoint. After clearing that uneventful hurdle, we spent an easy hour in the admirals’ club in brand new terminal 2 – luxury amid newness. If you haven’t been to an airport lounge, I can assure you these clubs offer a far more comfortable setting for sipping airport coffee than do the rows upon rows of black cattle chairs surrounding the departure gates. And the bathrooms, if today’s was any indication, are lovely: like those in a Sofitel. But they’re not for everyone. Oh no. They’re pleasant but they’re nothing to strive for in life. Save your money and spare yourself the anxiety. Better to struggle to put your children through college than to aspire to annual membership in one of these iffy country clubs. Trust me.
Mind you, we don’t fly this way all the time. The only reason we had access to the lounge is because in February of this year I cashed in all of my mileage on american airlines and booked us two round-trips between san francisco and western europe. I had just enough miles to get us first class passage between sfo and jfk, with business-class accommodations across the pond. We’d been wanting to visit greece and rome ever since we met, and I since I was in college. Given that world economics are in shit for the unforseeable future and America’s 2012 political posturing more closely resembles a Fellini film than it does a democratic process in what is (used to be?) the world’s finest nation, we said ‘why the hell not’ of our decision to spend a coupling weeks paying 1.4 dollars to the euro.