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I took a seat in front of the agent desk and started making phone calls: to my cousin, to update her on the situation, and to my mother to weigh the pros and cons of waiting another four and a half hours, when I had already been there just as long.
Maybe forty-five minutes or so had passed when an agent walked up to me, motioning me toward the desk. "I'll call you back, Ma."
"Someone just cancelled," she whispered. "I promised the next available to seat to another man, but I don't see him anywhere..." she said with her eyes still searching. "And you're sitting right here..." She started to do that loud furious typing that airline agents are so good at. I looked over the counter anxiously. Within seconds she handed me a boarding pass with a smile.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" I felt like I should go buy her a present. Or maybe just coffee.
Relieved, I set out in search of a place to nap. It was only a little after 10:30. Five and a half hours in the airport already. I found a quiet place to charge my electronics, lay out and sleep, and set the alarm for 1pm.
I woke up famished and purchased an over priced cup of soup, apple and bottled water. It had been an insanely long day, and my only solace now was knowing I'd be at my destination much sooner rather than later. I sat at the gate to eat my soup.
"I'm sick of looking at you," a gray-haired man said playfully as he sat down next to me. We'd chatted as we both waited standby for the 9:10 am flight. I laughed.
"Well, yeah... but I'm going to get on this flight."
"Yes." I knew he was silently thinking how in the hell I got a confirmed ticket... and I silently wondered if he was who the agent had promised my ticket to? I kept eating my soup. "Well hopefully, you'll get on this flight," I said trying to offer encouragement. I bit into my apple.
"I'm first on the standby list, so hopefully." I silently sent wishes into the atmosphere that he got on the plane... As well as that man who separated from his wife to put her on the morning flight. There were a host of familiar faces sitting around from the morning. A guy in military gear. A chocolatey brown skinned woman whose hair I admired. Another woman with her small child.
The number of people helplessly inconvenienced by the situation amazed me. All this hullabaloo. Just to go on a trip. Didn't seem worth it.
I boarded the flight and I got settled next to a nice young man who was so excited about his recent engagement to his girlfriend. He started telling me the whole story of their relationship: they met in Georgia where he's from, then he moved to New York and she moved to LA and...
I looked up and saw the gray-haired man and the whole crew of standbys process down the aisle. Yes! I thought.
"...and you know luckily, my job was flexible enough that I could go out and spend summers with her in LA... Finally though, she got a gig in New York and we've been together every since."
"That's so sweet," I said, affirming that I'd been listening. The plane was starting to taxi to the runway.
"Yeah, well I proposed last week, and I'm just so lucky she said yes." I smiled and took deep breaths.
The motion of the plane was starting to get to me. My neighbor chatted on, but his words started to fade into the background as I closed my eyes and focused on breathing.
In the air, I ordered a club soda banking on the bubbles to settle my tummy. "Good choice," he chimed in after my order. "I think I'll have one of those too." He was so chipper. I sipped it over the course of the flight feeling slightly better. Eventually I fell asleep, and just as quickly as we were in the air, the seat belt lights lit up for landing. Almost there. My ears started to be overwhelmed with piercing pain. Crap. I forgot to buy gum. As the plane descended, the popping in my ears and the funny feeling in my stomach escalated. My neighbor saw that I was awake and tried to engage me in more conversation. He was such a sweet guy. It was too bad I didn't have the capacity to talk with him at the moment.
As we got closer to the ground I tried everything I could think of to relieve the simultaneous pains. Inhale. Then yawn. Stick my fingers in my ear to release the pressure. Rub my belly. Inhale. Exhale. With a thump, the plane landed. I inhaled... and upchucked into the cup that held my club soda. Excess in my lap. It was horrible.
I looked over the to sweet guy, "Do you have any napkins?" I was afraid he could smell the stench. "I just puked."
"Oh! I'm so sorry!" He said. He found a paper bag made for air-sickness in the pouch in front of him. I felt so bad. I knew for sure he would have preferred to sit next to his fiance, instead of me - sick. From the whole day.