September 25, 2007
I never thought I would be happy to be in Newark.
It’s an easy joke.
Bit of a low blow, really.
But it has not been the most auspicious of beginnings.
Checking in at the Minneapolis airport, my information did not match, and I had a moment when I thought that my reservation was not going to be there at all. The magic of computers is that they can both cause heart-stopping woe as well as breathtaking relief. I still don’t know what happened, but the nice, blonde lady at the counter punched some information into her seemingly very old terminal, resolved the situation, and I was checked through to Dublin.
The night before, at home in St. Paul, we debated back and forth about luggage: to check or not to check. Pete was bringing his guitar, Woody, and we figured we would just bring everything with us on the plane. That way we did not have to worry about things not making the connection in Newark. You can imagine our joy upon realizing that the plane was an 18 row by 3-seat little wonder with enough room overhead to hold a vanity bag. At the Jetway, we hastily removed computer, reading material, and purse, and Pete watched in anguish as Woody moved slowly down the conveyor belt in what we hoped would not be a death march. Next time, I check ahead and pay attention to the kind of plane I am on.
To further the comedy of errors, my in-flight magazines clearly had fruit juice spilled on them, and Pete’s flight card was stuck to the cover of his magazine, which was removed from the pages, by a fairly new piece of chewed Doublemint. These are not terrible things, in and of themselves, but they strike me as signs of inattention, which is not what you want from your airline, especially if you are a nervous flier. Every little thing can seem like a bad omen, even if your analytical mind doesn’t believe in that sort of crap.
The woman behind Pete had boarded the Houston 5:05 pm flight and was mad that they had let her do it. I thought, “Grab some personal responsibility, lady. First of all, why would you be boarding at 3:50 for a 5:05 flight? And secondly, you sat on your own take-away cup of tea that you put on your own seat. Who are you going to blame for that?”
These things made me feel anxious and uneasy.
Overly dramatic, I know, but we do lead a relatively privileged life. Our worries are comparatively minimal and almost unbearably silly.
As planes do not have dealer or maker logos like cars, let alone hood ornaments (I think that might interfere with wind resistance or something), I did not know what kind of plane I was on, aside from the fact that it was unexpectedly small for a flight to the east coast. Once I found a flight magazine that was not sealed by gum or pink, warped, and crinkly with fruit juice, I discovered it was plane from a Brazilian manufacturer that I had never heard of, which also did not inspire confidence.
Once in the air, the densely packed though not terribly thick band of clouds below us gave the illusion of safety, like an airbag. I was not always a nervous flier; I have developed into a nervous flier. It has a lot to do with knowing what you have to lose, which has a lot to do with actually having something of great importance to lose. This thing of great importance is my life with Pete. I try to remember Pete’s advice: There’s nothing you can do. All of this is out of my hands. But Pete is already on vacation, and he has been for a while; I am not. I’m already a bit of a worrier, and the last few days had been nothing but go, go, go--absolutely chock full of to-do lists. I was feeling a bit put upon. At this point, with all that behind me, I had moved on to my immediate worries: once we landed in Newark, there was the connection to make to Dublin. Once there, we have to make it to our B&B. I would be able to relax for a couple of days then, or at least a day, until we had to pick up our car.
It’s nice to know that a country awash in Guinness awaits me.