The Atlanta Airport
Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
92Trip End Dec 25, 2007
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Well, I'm not actually in Atlanta. And it's not Sunday. I'm writing this after the fact. But there's so much to say that I have to go all the way back to the airport. Whoever heard of having to take a subway to get to your gate? Oy.
Saying goodbye at the Albuquerque airport was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I was already crying because I'd just hung up the phone with Heather and when I realized Dad was crying too, well, that was the end of any sort of composure for me. I said I didn't know what to say because all of the things I usually say as part of goodbye no longer applied. "I'll call you "- a payphone when I have a spare second didn't count. "I won't be far" - well, we all know what kind of lie that was. And "See you soon" ... yeah. Anyway the point is it was hard. Mom laughed though, and that helped a little. And Dad told me to fly. And I will, Dad, and I did.
The flight was uneventful and landed on time. At the Atlanta airport I wasted a bunch of minutes on my phone card calling from a payphone and not being smart about which phones I called. Then I sat in the lobby and watched an episode of Xena. :D
I'd not been on the plane ten minutes when little girl a few seats away asked, "Daddy, are we almost almost there yet?" We hadn't even moved yet. I was worried that this would be a very long flight. Luckily, it was the only time the little girl asked. It seemed like forever before we finally began to taxi, and then we were three for takeoff. The takeoff itself was surreal, the realization that those wheels were my last steps on American pavement for a very long time. I was more cheerful about that than I thought I was going to be. And then, as we sped above the ground, and up through the clouds, I started seeing shapes in the clouds. I don't mean making the clouds into shapes, I mean seeing shapes that were already there. Some clouds right off the bat, for instance, were shaped like an R. That's right, an R. For Randi. They didn't look like an R. It wasn't that they could be thought of as an R. They were an R. Cool huh? Needless to say, I wasn't worried anymore that I might not be doing the right thing.
I slept through the first round of drinks and snacks and thankfully woke up in time for dinner. Chicken something-or-other. And spring water in a little cup that wasn't really made for drinking. I drank it anyway. I still don't know if I was supposed to. The brownie was really really good though, for the record. They played movies but I didn't really watch them because I couldn't hear. But I could see the map of our flight and the tiny airplane icon slowly creeping away from Atlanta and up the East Coast and read the chart that said how fast we were going, how far we had traveled, how high we were, and how cold it was outside.
As it turned out, one of the only seats on the plane was the one the guy next to me wanted so he could be near his family, and I had the two-seat row to myself. I had my pillow and my blanket and I could stretch out, at least a little bit, and pretty soon I was asleep. I woke up somewhere over Italy, somewhat bitter that I had missed most of Europe and probably breakfast as well. As it happens I had not missed breakfast, a warm croissant and a banana, and as I watched our little icon fly closer and closer to Greece, I began to count in minutes rather than in hours.
I watched carefully out the window for a glimpse of this mysterious place I'd seen only in movies, watching expanses of ocean that made me feel very small. Seeing ships that must have been bigger than the one I board on Wednesday swallowed by the expanse of the Red Sea was more than unnerving. And then - Land Ho. But the land was shrouded in mist, like something out of a novel or a movie. It seemed Greece was determined to remain a mystery. When it finally came into view, it was completely different from what I had seen of Italy. Where Italy had been coastal far into the peninsula, Greece seemed completely made up of large hills rising right out of the water. When the buildings finally appeared, they were squat and blocky, and tightly packed. That proved to be a pattern. Soon buildings grew windows, roads sprouted moving cars, and even leaves on trees became visible. I could see there was a breeze down there. The dark mass that was our very own shadow became distinctly plane-shaped. And then, just like that, the wheels were down and we were in Athens.