It was wet, misting. DeepEnd arrived at 4am, just as we had planned. I hopped into his car and we were off. As we traveled down the interstate, we chatted about random things.
At 4:30am he exited, taking his normal way to the airport.
NIGHTLY ROAD CLOSURE 8PM-5AM
He tried going anyway. Seeing a cop in the distance blocking the way, he backed up and off the road.
We circled around, trying to find a way back onto the interstate. I stayed calm, quietly assuring myself I had plenty of time. The airport I was flying out from typically had a low volume of passengers. According to DeepEnd & SkinnyBitch, it would only take 45 minutes from my arrival to my sitting on my plane.
Eventually we found our way back onto the interstate. With his exit no longer a possibility, DeepEnd drove around and got off on a main road. The speed limit was 25mph. As we crawled towards the airport, I kept trying to not panic.
Arriving at the airport at 5am, I hugged DeepEnd goodbye and headed towards curbside check-in.
“Have you paid for your bag?”
“Gotta go inside.”
I waited in a short line to get to the front. A roving attendant asked everyone when their flight left. Pulling out my journal, I checked. Thank goodness, my flight didn’t leave til 6:30am. Deep breath out.
The attendant pulled all 6am departures to the front. After a few people cut ahead of me, I finally stepped up.
“Where’s your boarding pass?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t done this before.”
“Go check-in at the kiosk.”
Stepping out of line, I made my way over to the small electronic island. I followed the computer prompts. I paid for my huge black Nike bag. I got back in line, which had now quadrupled in size and slowed to a painful crawl. I kept checking the time on my phone. I grew anxious.
The roving attendant came around again.
“Who has a 6:30 flight?”
I was pulled to the front. Nervous, I asked the man if my small rolling bag was carry-on size. He said it looked a little too big, but they could add the checked bag at the desk.
Stepping up, I piled my two bags onto the scale. I pulled out my ID. The man asked for my boarding pass. I had folded it and put it in my wallet, but for a split second I couldn’t find it. When I did see it, my hands shook so badly I could barely unfold the piece of paper.
Extra bag paid for and tagged, he instructed me to drop off my luggage around the corner and head to my gate. Pressed for time, I lifted both, not bothering to roll them even with the weight, adrenaline fueling me.
“Do I just leave them here?”
My bags secured, I speed-walked towards my gate.
Stepping into the security line, I handed the attendant all the papers I’d collected.
“Who is Nicholas Polk?”
I was mistakenly given someone else’s transfer ticket along with my boarding pass and checked-bag receipts.
I stepped up to the conveyor belt. I took off my shoes, took my netbook out of my backpack, and proceeded to remove all my metal (a process that takes way longer for me than for most individuals).
I slid my three trays onto the x-ray belt. I stepped through the metal detector.
I was prepared for a beep. DeepEnd already told me I might need to tell them I have body jewelry.
“Take off your hat. You’re good.”
The attendant had a warm voice and gave me a small smile. I felt better.
I grabbed my trays and slid them to the end. I put my necklace back on, my phone back in my pocket, my wallet with its chain reattached to my hip, my loud jangling keys. My Zim belt would take a minute to get back on, so I instead carried it to the gate.
It was 5:50am. Technically, scarily, I actually could have made it if my flight were at 6. Instead I used the restroom, put my belt back on, and waited.
When it was time for my zone to load, I stepped up to the desk and handed in Nicholas Polk’s transfer pass.
Getting to my aisle, I had the window seat.
Two rather large men sat in the two seats between the walkway and my cubby hole. They stepped out. I eased in, dropping my back pack onto the floor and nestling my legs around it. I fumbled with the lap belt, but got it on. I turned off my phone.
And then I turned it back on. I texted DeepEnd my mother’s phone number, just in case. I apologized if I woke him back up. I turned my phone back off.
I leaned back in my seat. My eyelids grew heavy even as my heart beat with excitement.
Looking out the window, I saw a familiar tableaux, one I had dreamed some time ago.
As we taxied to the runway, I saw the sky had turned from dark blue to deep purple. In the minutes before the plane lifted off the ground, the sky again changed, this time to slate. As we climbed, I blew a kiss to my home below.
Bye for now.
I slept for most of the flight, listening to a new favorite album on my iPhone.
I tried my best to pop my ears, but to no avail. I leaned forward, closing my eyes, pulling my earbuds out. I pressed my thumbs into my ears. Remembering my pain processing, I started counting to four, over and over again. I took deep breaths. I gritted my teeth.
I tried looking out my window. At first it didn’t work. Though I marveled in the ocean of clouds, cotton waves extending to infinity, even the beauty could not subside my pain.
Gradually, painfully slow, the plane descended. Little by little, my pain lowered as the plane lowered.
Cutting through the clouds, my ears finally popped. The worst of it was over.
We landed with a thump. I turned my phone back on; texted DeepEnd & PrincessA.
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