1.34 – 2.10 pm: On the way to the airport. I’ve been on all four lines of Boston’s subway system today, something I don’t know if I’ve done before.
2.20 pm: Waiting for Keith at Terminal B. I’ve come straight from work; he took the day off. I hate working half-days. I prefer the all-or-nothing approach.
2.28 pm: Sitting next to a woman that, funnily enough, I also sat next to hours before on the red line this morning into work. She was also seated next to me on the blue line on the way to the airport, on the shuttle bus from the subway station to the terminals, and now here. If she’s on the same flight as me, that’s one thing, but if she’s seated next to me and Keith, I’ll have to ask her for her phone number or something, because the universe is clearly trying to put us together.
2.30 – 2.42 pm: Check in, security, etc.
2.50 pm: The gate is very quiet, and clean, with the same anonymity of a hospital.
3.15 pm: I seem to have broken one of the toilets. I had depressed the button for the flush mechanism, and it apparently thinks that one flush is not sufficient. It’s still flushing itself as I wash my hands and exit the restroom; even from more than twenty paces away, I can hear the rush of water. The toilet must be powered by a jet engine.
3.27 pm: I look up from my book just in time to see a blonde woman walk by in trendy but complicated-looking gladiator-style flats. There are at least four buckles per sandal. I can’t even imagine how long it took for her to undo each shoe at security. I’m so glad I hadn’t been in line behind her or similar.
3.38 pm: I walk up to the counter at the gate to see if there are any adjacent seats available; as it is, Keith and I will be seated one behind the other. There are several bags surrounding the counter, evidently belonging to the flight crew milling about. I step into the one vacant space, which happens to be in front of a uniformed woman standing behind the counter. Before I can open my mouth or even make eye contact, another uniformed woman appears at my elbow. “She’s a flight attendant,” the second woman says curtly, nodding at the first. “She can’t help you with seat changes. Are you looking for a seat change?” I’m taken aback by her brusque and vaguely rude manner, so all I do is nod. “Well,” she says sniffily, “We’re flight attendants. We don’t do seat changes. Ask her,” she tells me, pointing to a third woman who has just stepped up to the machine used to scan boarding passes. I want to tell the second woman that there’s no need to be so obnoxious, but what’s the point? With my luck, she’ll be in charge of my section on the plane, and will deny me my pretzels.
3.45 pm: I am more than halfway through my book, which I started reading this morning on the subway. I don’t want to finish it while sitting here, but I also don’t want to tear into my magazines just yet. I’ve got to ration out my reading better, or learn to read slower, or acquire a Kindle.
4.05 pm: In the boarding line. I’m surprised by a woman with a really dowdy haircut, the kind that just screams “Mother.” She’s dressed unremarkably, in a pale yellow short-sleeved top with a floral macramé detail around the slightly scooped neckline and shapeless denim capris in a faded wash. On her feet, she’s wearing incredibly sexy high-heel sandals that look so out of place with her outfit and her hairstyle that it makes me think of those toys kids have: a panel divided into three parts — head, torso and legs — that leaves it up to the child to match up the giraffe’s long neck with its speckled body and knobby legs.
Something pm: I’ve got to guess at times now, because I’ve no watch and I’ve turned off my phone as instructed. There is a very unhappy baby somewhere behind me, crying in such a way that it makes me wonder if it hurts its throat to do so.
Something else pm: Not knowing the time is going to drive me crazy. Since last writing, I’ve read two chapters of my book and Lucky cover-to-cover. We still haven’t taken off, though we are taxiing and someone from the cockpit (The pilot? The copilot?) just announced we’re third for takeoff.
Not too long afterward: We are airborne. The subway woman is on the same flight, by the way, but seated in another row, and the unpleasant flight attendant is the leader of the whole crew.
Also not too long afterward: The crossword puzzle in the Alaska Airlines magazine is really difficult. Either that or I’m an idiot.
2.11 pm: One of my seatmates has a laptop, and if I angle my head just so, I can see the time. He must be from the West Coast. What the heck — I’ll take it. Incidentally, we have the same laptop, he and I.
2.20 pm: I think I’ll try to sleep.
3.09 pm: Semi-successful, semi-awakened by the food cart. Earlier, the digEplayer cart rolled around, with handheld video players for ten dollars. The food cart’s got the DeliPak for five dollars. These Paks and the digEplayer bring to mind Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid Tale — Econowives, Feels-On-Wheels, Compuchecks, etc.
3.13 pm: Apparently we are flying over Lake Huron, but I’m in a middle seat. My other seatmate, the one next to the window, is kind of creeping me out. I keep on catching him staring at me. He also has not brought any reading materials or an iPod or anything. I am his in-flight entertainment.
3.30 pm: Reading Saveur. When we get back home, I think I’ll try making gravlax. Oh, and mussels.
3.40 pm: This baby has what I can only describe as truly ear-shattering scream capacity. It would be a shame to waste lungs like these. This kid better grow up to become a world-class opera singer.
3.45 pm: Is the idea of taking a New England ice cream tour interesting to anyone aside from me?
3.47 pm: Another thing to do when I get home: have my knives sharpened.
3.55 pm: More to do at home: lox and cream cheese, on a toasted garlic or onion bagel. The next time I go to my parents’, I will have to ask them to arrange this.
4.37 pm: Keith is chatting with his neighbor. It sounds like a nice enough conversation. I’m sitting here, my elbows tucked firmly into my ribs, eating peanut M&Ms and pretending the two people on either side of me don’t exist.
4.49 pm: The baby now sounds like it is gargling whilst screaming.
5.15 pm: Trying to sleep. My back is killing me. Also: I keep on catching my creepy neighbor giving me the eyeball. The truly disconcerting part is that he doesn’t look away when this happens.
6.03 pm: The flight attendant rolling the beverage cart is wearing Chanel drop earrings, but I think they are fakes. What would you call them? Chan-not? Chan-no?
6.45 pm: “Ladies and gentlemen,” the head flight attendant announces on the intercom. “If you look to your left, you’ll get a spectacular view of what I think is Mount Hood.” Heads crane to peer out of the windows, as the copilot introduces himself on the intercom, adding, “Flight attendants, prepare for arrival, and yes, that is Mount Hood.”
7.17 pm: I haven’t been to this Portland in about seven years. And now, I’m back.