I find myself at the end of a long and strange day. I woke up in one state and am going to sleep in another, and in between I entered a state of despair. Then I left it. I am on vacation. By the grace of a very good friend, I have been given access to a wonderful room in a hotel in Florida, the Shunsine state (they hate math here as much as I do). So I'm getting settled in and I'd like to recount what led me to this spot.
My last blog post was at 3:30 or so in the morning and, though I thought I had spent myself creatively writing it, I was still unable to sleep, so I found my way to Dunkin Donuts with the admonition from the wife that she would be sorely disappointed if I came back without a Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream. I showed up at the D+D at 4:35 only to find them closed until 5AM. That seemed rather capricious of them. Donuts are an all-the-time kind of food so I couldn't see what made 5AM special and invalidated 25 minutes earlier as a reasonable time to crave some coffee and sugar. But I also knew how important returning with Hot Chocolate was so I waited. In the car. In the empty parking lot. For 25 minutes (well, I did drive to another store for 3 minutes, only to find that it didn't open until 8AM. The nerve.
Dunkin Donuts opened up at the crack of 5:05 and I was right there, unsure of what to get. It took a few minutes but I decided on a bagel with tuna, a corn muffin and large unsweetened iced-tea. Yum. I scarfed that down, resigned to being awake for the day (and the previous night) got the Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream and returned home. We fast forward to the airport, 3 and a half hours later. In truth, it didn't feel like fast forward until the final 5 minutes before we left but you get the idea. At the airport we tried to figure out how to check bags and explain our ticket buying experience and generally, get everyone to like us. The kids were hyped up on adrenalin and the possibility of not seeing their parents for a few days, the wife was knee deep in crossword puzzles and I was starting to regret the whole breakfast at 5AM thing.
I get nerves. Lots and lots of nerves.
When our friend and host arrived, we worked our way through security, removing our shoes, jackets and dignity and placing them all in bins so that a machine could declare us uninteresting and then we wandered to the gate. We saw our plane. Unlike earlier trips, this one would be on a relatively smaller place. As our seats were towards the back, we waited to board. I do wonder why they didn't board from the back first but there must be some scientific reason for it, like inertia or chlorophyll. As we taxied all seemed fine. Our seats were B through D in a 3-aisle-3 configuration and I had one of the non-aisle seats. No problem, I figured...under a three hour trip. Big deal. Then we took off.
I have said it before and I will say it again -- flying is just flat out unnatural. But you know what, I can make peace with unnatural. I can even make peace with the ever-present fear that god might, for a laugh, cause some bolt to loosen or some errant wind to knock off an entire wing so that I, both unable to protect myself and, even worse, unable to either protect or soothe my children, feel a failure as I plummet to the ground...yes, I might be able to make peace with that if not for the debilitating nausea. I am still getting over these flu-like symptoms. That name is a lie because no one likes the flu, but I had such a round of nausea last Tuesday that I just wanted to curl up and vomit on myself for comfort. It was all the worst of a hangover without the regret (or at least, uncertainty about whom I had offended). This was worse. My cold sweat had cold sweat. Apparently, the 737 (or the "Short Bus of the Sky") is a touch more sensitive to, well, EVERYTHING so as we arose, the plane started to (and then continued to) buckle and shake wildly. The kids didn't seem to mind as they were unaware of both a capricious god, and my gift of an incredibly aware inner ear. So I was uber green while they giggled. The wife held my arm and tried to comfort me as I worked on the best way to push her aside and scramble over her body so I could relive Dunkin Donuts, starting with dessert first, if-you-know-what-I-mean. She used to be the one afraid of flying and now she has gotten used to it. I used to be the daredevil, and now, I retch when I have to make a k-turn while driving. She is my rock and I'm her roll. So for an important good note, I was surrounded by dear friend and loving and loved wife. Not the worst place to be when you are deathly nauseous because if anyone is going to laugh at my distress, I want it to be the people I care for.
When we finally leveled off (at 32,000 feet so the captain claimed, but who was really able to challenge him?) the bumpiness subsided enough for him to turn off the "hang on for dear life" sign and replace it with "stumble wildly around the cabin until I decide to turn the other sign back on and you have to run for your seat." It did NOT subside in my head and stomach. I guess I don't understand turbulence -- the air is clear, isn't it? I mean, if you want to claim turbulence when flying through clouds, well, then that makes sense. They are clouds, full of non-air and stuff. But if the air is clear, what's up with that. And I tried to convince myself that it was nothing more than a ride in a bus over a bumpy street except for 2 things -- the bus was a plane, 5+ miles in the air, and there was no street nor any bumps. I fought the urge to upchuck or make solemn vows to heaven about what I'd do if I lived through this until I mercifully fell asleep for 25 minutes about an hour later. When I awoke the flight did seem a bit more level. I listened to a bit of music, but every time I started really getting comfy, the bumpiness started again. I skipped lunch.
Our descent was similarly rife with turbulence. I tried to console myself by saying that, at least I knew when the ride would be over but as the shaking continued, my gut started ignoring logic and demanding visceral satisfaction. Fortunately, we landed when we did. I understand that I will have to fly one more time, in order to get back but let me say this -- as a message to myself if to no one else, NO MORE FLYING. Now, I admit that while we were over land and not knocking about, the flight was beautiful and the view was stunning. And if the entire flight had been like that, then that would have been great. But it wasn't. I am still pitching and yawing and queasy, hours later. Most uncool.
We deplaned, deplaned and walked half way across Florida to reclaim our luggage and find the rental car people. On the plus side, they set us up with a gorgeous car. On the negative side, our children will become spoiled thinking that we can afford cars with things like "airbags" and "brakes."
Did I mention that this ENTIRE time, I was coughing and hacking like a cat with a full set of hairballs? I even coughed up a few of those hairballs during the day. It was not my most glorious moment.
So to finish it off, I have gotten lost on the hotel grounds once so far, had my key demagnetized, found out how out of shape I am by trying to walk up 5 flights of stairs, and am still experiencing room-turbulence, only exacerbated by the violent elevators.
But the food for dinner is on its way, there is a football game to watch, the rooms and view are spectacular, and tomorrow is another day.