Written in the Newark Airport
So far so good.
I got to the St. John’s airport a tad early, though maybe that was good as security went ballistic on my bags–a first for me. They poked around, opened everything, swabbed everything they could get the swab on, and were confused by my many American quarters in my change purse. They asked what I needed all the quarters for, and I confusedly said, “Laundry?” Perhaps my cleanly habits renewed their view of me as a stand-up citizen as they now let me move on into the secured area.
Waiting in airports, or really any transit waiting rooms, is fascinating. I know many people have written–and far, far more eloquently than I–on travel themes such as the waiting room. But dang it, they are just such a flotsam and jetsam humanity collective, that who can blame me for wanting to touch on the subject myself.
In the St. John’s airport are four women sitting just behind me, all heading to Florida together. They are all in their mid-to-late forties, or perhaps even early fifties, and are ridiculously cute. They are clacking together and the noise volumes wax and wane as they first talk all together in an excited rush, and then suddenly break off into smaller conversations or silence as they pour over maps and itineraries. Suddenly, they all start thanking one of the “gals” for putting this trip together, and how excited they all are, and how much fun they’re going to have being just the “girls” and no men. One woman tells the others a hilarious story about her husband noticing the baggage by the door the night before, and asking, “Where are you going?” plaintively. She says to him, “I’m finally leaving you after 26 years of you not doing the dishes!” But apparently the poor hubbie ended up looking so stricken that she finally laughed and said, “Florida, dummy. Remember?” One of the other women laughed like a loon and comments, “He’s so nice, but what a sin that he’s so damn stupid.” Cackling all around, and then discussions of who will drive in the states, and how exciting the Harry Potter Theme Park will be, even for old ladies.
After feeling like the Friendly Giant (or not so friendly by the end of the flight. More like the Slightly Surly Giant), I landed in Newark, my first American airport! I’ll admit, all my fears of gloved fingers, tiny interrogation rooms and hard-noses, Hill-Street-Blues-esque cops asking me hard questions was starting to make my tummy rumble. I had to grab my extremely heavy luggage and head to customs.
~Can I just say here that though I am a feminista indeed, I find that I would very much like a large, burly man to jump up one day and say, “Why, let me carry those bags, ma’am.” Ok, I’ll be feminist enough to say that I’d take a large, burly woman as well. Basically, I don’t wants to carry ‘em bags no mo! Stupid non-existent manly-man/woman.~
And speaking of non-existent, there was literally no interrogation at the border at all!! In fact, I firmly believe that I could have had two dead hookers stuffed with dead midgets, who were in turn stuffed with cocaine, ecstasy, heroine and fake Eiffel Towers for resale purposes, and all would have been fine. Yep, no gloved hands for this kid! Although, going through security again I DID have to take off my shoes, and boy did my feet stink to high heaven. Security officer, I am smuggling bad smells across state lines! And, while good old Sinjan’s security practically repacked my luggage entirely for me, the Newark team looked me up and down and waved me along. Badda bing, badda boom. I’m now wondering if the Toronto customs people will go to hell on me on my way back. I suppose it depends on how saucy I get in Nawlin’s.
In true Newark fashion (notice how I’m pretending to know what I’m talking about here, while never having left Canada for more than a day trip), there was the cutest elderly Jewish couple who happened to be waiting for the plane to Vegas very near where I was waiting for my plane to Houston. The gentleman (notice I didn’t say gentile-man…that would just be wrong as well as incorrect) was wearing striped suspenders and a tiny baseball cap, while his wife was very florally dressed in some muumuu-type concoction doing a Sudoku. He kept sort of waddling around in his Penguin-like body croaking out, “Estelle, would you look at the cover of that magazine. What’s going on these days,” and “Estelle, did you see that guys luggage, we should get some carry on like that,” and “Estelle, remind me to go to the bathroom before we have to board, would ya?” Priceless. “Estelle” just kept doing her puzzle and mumbled the occasional affirmation to keep Mr. Estelle happy.
After hitting the bathroom, I’m off to Houston!! Hello to my friend, Ginny-Fugarino-Land! Or, at least, hello airport-where-Ginny-Fugarino-may-have-once-taken-a-plane.
Written in New Orleans
Well, a rather uneventful flight from Newark to Houston, and then after navigating the GIANT Houston airport, I found my gate and read until it was time to head to New Orleans. Arriving in the Big Easy I suddenly realized that, though I was to have my lovely pal Phoebe meet me here, I had NO idea where to meet her. I assumed we were on the same airline, so figuring if I wandered down to baggage she would eventually show up. As I got my bags, which both arrived safe and sound thank you very much, I looked at the baggage carts longingly. Why did I not get a baggage cart? Was it because I had no American cash? Nay, I had all those quarters, plus some sweet dollars. Or, was it because I am stupid and have some sort of weird martyr complex? Ding, ding, ding. Yep, Phoebe was NOT on the same airline as me, and her airplane would be arriving clear across the airport, with its own baggage area. So, instead of pushing a single cart around I apparently chose to go the saint-route and wheel my individual bags, with my carry on looped together, across the entire, rather largish airport. By the time I finally got to my destination sweat was pouring off me, and my hands were red and swollen. Not that saints necessarily martyr themselves with wheeled uprights, but it makes me sound more dramatic, non?
Just as I reached the area where I was hoping like hell Phoebe would be coming from, who runs out from the crowd but PHOEBE! She helped me grab a cart, berated me for not getting one in the first place, and then dropped the C-bomb. Yep, the gal rented a car for the week she was in town. La-di-da! Little did I realize the tension-filled and pants-filling adventures that would occur with my California driver tackling the bizarre highways and off-ramps of Louisiana*.
*Note: Now, I’m quite sure that these roads were NOT so bizarre to my little American friend, and I fully admit my high regards for her driving and navigating skills. However, not having driven so much in recent years, and having neither driven or been driven in the States since the mid-nineties, I am guilty of some side-seat driving, fake brake pumping, and white knuckling it on the door panel. I apologize profusely to all concerned. Namely, Phoebe.*
Once we got our car there was a little scrambling in the thick Louisiana heat to sort our stuff out, figure out various car functions, and then laughingly find our way out of the parking lot maze. Phoebe’s Dad kindly (or rather begrudgingly) lent us his GPS, and so with Mr. T as our guide we headed off into the night towards the Marigny area of New Orleans. Mr. T, you ask? You heard me, fool! However, not only did Mr. T’s constant berating add to the surreal-ness of the moment, but it apparently makes Phoebe crazy! Even though she badgered her father to download the voice, Mr. T makes Phoebe angry and argumentative. Yep, we were in another world for sure.
With only a few confused moments as we hit the many one-way streets of the New Orleans core, Mr. T telling us to “go left, not right, fool, LEFT, LEFT” we made it to the Bohemian Armadillo Guesthouse with really no problems at all. My negative Virgo-senses should have been tingling, but no, I thought glibly to myself, “Ah, this is all going so well!”
But no, NO! Bad Virgo! *slap, slap* You should have known!
Arriving at the Voodoo Room, my place for 3 months (aptly named for my research purposes, I thought), we discovered a rather dank, dark, odd space. It was definitely cute, but just sort of…..off. A living room with a mantle, armour, mouldy smelling linen closet and daybed led into a bedroom with a queen bed, loud and chilly (though thankfully so) air-conditioner, which then led into a small and slightly dirty bathroom and kitchen respectively. The bathroom was hung with one towel, which proved to have old make-up smeared on it, and the bedding looked clean-ish, though not the hotel/vacation spot quality I think we were both expecting. The kitchen looked weird, but I could only see it in the dim light and didn’t explore too carefully. We decided to wash up as best we could with one towel (I called immediately and was told more towels would be left on the back door for us later), and then head to Frenchman Street for much needed nosh.
Unfortunately, Frenchman was actually the last place we should have gone being in the rather odd, over-tired, over-wrought and low-blood-sugared moods we seemed to be in. It was FILLED with hipsters! Jiving on the streets, spilling out of “joints” and there were no quickly found restaurants. I, at any rate, was just sort of done. Overwhelmed, thy name is Venus!
So, what do you do in that circumstance? Especially if you have a car and driver at your disposal? Why, head to Denny’s of course!
Yes, you gourmands and adventurers and hipsters and cool-niks, scoff if you must. Scoff away, naysayers!! I was done. I needed comfort food, I needed something familiar, and so onto the ramps and highways and off to Denny’s we went. (In one odd missed turn we found a likely mall we would explore later and get my cellphone!) It was greasy and lovely and the coffee was hot and the water cold and I thoroughly needed it.
With new towels on the back door (though note I said new, not clean…those suckers shed on us something awful!), and our toothbrushes and jammies unpacked we prepared for bed. Since there were no sheets for the daybed, Phoebe and I later clamoured into bed together and under the loud buzz of the air-conditioner we fell asleep for the first time in New Orleans.Little did we know the horror to come.