I flew to New York City on Friday for my mother’s surprise 60th birthday. She no idea I was going to be in town, let alone there to throw her a party. We managed to pull the thing off without her finding out, but there were a few roadblocks along the way:
Friday, Oct. 10. 4:30 am. Joni Mitchell blasted through my alarm clock and I snoozed her more times than I remember. I eventually stumbled out of bed, fed the dog, let her out and made coffee. Then, you know, I did some dishes, scrubbed the stove’s surface, tossed some old leftovers. Because obviously I had time to kill and why not clean the kitchen before dawn? When it finally occurred to me that I should look at a clock, it was already 5:23 am. I needed to leave for the airport in 7 minutes, and I was still wearing my pajamas. Total running cost: $0, not including gas.
6:05 am. “You can still catch your flight if you run to the gate, but that means you can’t check anything and your suitcase is pretty huge.” I’ll say. Calla could’ve fit inside my suitcase with room to do laps. It was the replacement suitcase that Delta gave me after their conveyor belts/jaws of death shredded my last one to a pulp. My smaller carry-on suitcase had a broken zipper and so I was stuck dragging Australia-on-Wheels to New York. Total running cost: $57.30, including $5 to store Australia, $50 to book a later flight and $2.30 to take the MAX back home.
10:55 am. For a mere $2.25 (the bus drivers in Portland never pay attention to how much you actually put in there—in New York you’ll get kicked off before anyone overlooks the missing nickel), I hopped on the #4 on my way back to the airport. Thirty seconds later, my friend Greg called to say he could drive me to the airport for the second time today. Total running cost: $59.55, not including gas.
12:30 pm. I boarded my flight to Salt Lake. I slept through most of it and there really is nothing to report here. The layover there was short, and I quickly hopped aboard the flight to JFK. Also fairly uneventful, other than the fact that it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month aboard Delta, and after charging me I-don’t-even-want-to-tell-you-how-much for a flight, they continued to interrupt the movie to ask for donations. At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I have to say that I prefer to choose to donate on my own time and not after I’ve paid $15 for a beer and a “meal” that only half fills me up, all the while soaring in a tin can through the atmosphere. Total running cost: $74.55.
11:15 pm. At long last, I arrived in New York. At that hour, it seemed, every flight in the airport shared the same baggage claim carousel. My New York instincts immediately shifted into gear, and I grabbed Australia-on-Wheels and navigated through the crowd of tourists on cell phones and gypsy cabbies to the taxi stand outside. I nearly ran over the woman in front of me and briefly felt bad about it, but then my inner New Yorker reminded me that it was her fault for stopping abruptly anyway. Total running cost: $134.55, including tolls and tip.
12:30 am. Home sweet home! I wheeled Australia down the steps and up to the door of my mother’s apartment building. I’d arranged with her boyfriend, John, to have her stay at his place that night so that I could safely sneak in without her knowing. That’s when I discovered the slight hitch to that clever plan: THE LOCKS HAD BEEN CHANGED—my keys no longer worked. I called my friend, Rachel, who was supposed to be staying with me, and told her that we needed a backup plan. Total running cost: $144.55, including tip.
1:00 am. A quick crosstown cab ride later, I arrived at my friend Bev’s house, who with John and myself helped plan the big shindig, and Rachel arrived 15 minutes later. The three of us were giddy from lack of sleep and stayed up late laughing about the impossibility of the situation and scheming ways to rectify it. The plates and silverware were to be delivered between 8 and 11 the next morning. Obviously we needed a key. Where we’d find one remained to be seen. Total: $154.55, not including the cost of late night electricity.
… to be continued.