I was all set to type the following Friday morning around 9 AM:
“GREETINGS AND A HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND TO ALL OF YOU PATRIOTIC AMERICANS OUT THERE! I am writing from sunny Amelia Island, Florida where it is super sunny plus more sunny and I am having the time of my life!”
I could use some work with my descriptive adjectives. But still. You get the drift.
Well. I am indeed having the time of my life so that much is true.
Except…except…except…my flight which was supposed to land at 11:20 Thursday night ended up landing at 3:54 Friday morning instead.
YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT.
That’s 4 am practically, for those of you who have trouble with time.
For those of you also keeping track of my itinerary and are following along at home, this means that by the time we rented a car and drove to my boyfriend’s parents’ beach house (because, let’s add to the fun the fact that I am FLYING DOWN HERE TO MEET MY BOYFRIEND’S PARENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME, PLEASE DEAR GOD DO NOT LET ME SPILL ANYTHING ON THEM AT A RESTAURANT OR ON THEIR SOFA AND PLEASE DO NOT LET ME FALL DOWN TOO MANY TIMES), it was about 5:30 in the morning and I had been awake for close to 24 hours.
Oh, travel! You wicked, wicked beast.
It started out so well, too.
I arrived at the JetBlue terminal in JFK full of vim and vigor! I had never been to the brand new terminal before and LET ME TELL YOU I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT IT!!! They play 80’s music, for one thing. (As I was getting my boarding pass: “Almost Paradise” from Footloose, “Drive” by The Cars. As I was going through security: “Everything She Wants” by Wham. I called Rita to sing this to her over the phone because she used to own that cassette tape (WHAM! Make It Big!) and I think quite a few people around me in the airport really enjoyed my serenade. Hey, Guy Waiting Outside The Men’s Bathroom! YOU ARE WELCOME FOR THAT! I also do a mean “Careless Whisper!” GUILTY FEET HAVE GOT NO RHYTHM!)
Everything in the JetBlue terminal is of course funky and blue. The restaurants there do not include a CHILI’S 2 GO! or a Dave’s Famous BBQ! and in the little specialty grocery shop, I found vegetarian sandwiches, edamame hummus and Newman’s Organic Milk Chocolate Caramel Cups.
(What? I’m from New York. I’m supposed to be pretentious.)
The other reason I was so excited about the JetBlue terminal was because I used to fly JetBlue ALL! THE! TIME! Back in college, JetBlue was BRAND NEW and one of their few destinations was to Buffalo, NY. (Why God? Why?) So I could take that 49 minute flight from campus to home relatively cheaply and watch TV next to my cousin Tom who used to laugh out loud at his television and I would be all WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING? IT BETTER BE SOMETHING HILARIOUS. And it was actually Pepe La Pew cartoons.
Yeah. That story is true.
Anyway. Back then, JetBlue had a few gates attached to some other crappy airline terminal and it really was not fun.
But 80’s music and internet everywhere and really good shopping and food? It’s like I am in an actual Mall of Awesomeness! I’m thinking of going back there to hang out, just for fun. Who’s with me?
I’m getting away from the story, as per usual.
The point is, I am so excited for life on this beautiful Thursday night at the JetBlue terminal and my dashing boyfriend showed up to meet me and was all ISN’T THIS SO GREAT? and we had a glass of wine and toasted to our health and good fortune and life was just as it should be. (I know I have not discussed my relationship on this blog but just SHUT UP ABOUT IT. He is quite dashing and uses the green scent of Speed Stick men’s deodorant which is my favorite kind. That’s all you need to know.)
(Sidebar: I just Googled Speed Stick to find out what scent the green canister is and it’s actually called ‘Regular’. Why are men’s deodorants labeled as such? And why, as a female, am I stuck with ‘Baby Powder Velvet Pomegranate Sparkly Dreams’? The mind. It boggles.)
BUT THEN THERE WAS A PLOT TWIST:
Someone got on the PA and said (this is not an exaggeration) that there was some LOST aircraft? From the West Coast? And they needed to have our plane towed to our gate? From somewhere else?
(Where? The West Coast? And what do you mean LOST an aircraft? And am I going to die? They never actually clarified the ‘we lost your plane’ comment. In fact, JetBlue, disappointingly, did not clarify much from that moment on. Which I think is rather uncharacteristic of them, right?)
They summed it up by saying we’d be delayed about an hour and that I can deal with because, whatever.
BUT OH HO HO!
What actually happened was that JetBlue seemed unable to say anything except weather on the West Coast was bad and it was backing things up which was pretty frustrating THANKS A LOT WEST COAST because the East Coast was sunny and gawgeous.
We switched gates.
We boarded (along with a group of hipster dudes who kept hitting on ladies) at 11 pm.
We then proceeded to sit on the tarmac until 2 am.
OH YOU READ THAT RIGHT.
No one made an announcement until about 12:30 in the morning when the pilot said he’d put on a movie or two because OOPS we were stuck in a line up of 30 planes waiting to take off.
WEST COAST! I AM SO MAD AT YOU RIGHT NOW!!!
I finally ended up dozing off while we were in the air until the plane (which felt to me like it was going even faster than usual, though I don’t know if that’s actually possible or because of where I was sitting, etc.) started getting bumped around.
Now, I am not the most courageous flier.
But I fly pretty frequently.
I do not need to take drugs, I do not have panic attacks.
But. I do not do turbulence well.
I usually grip the armrest until my knuckles turn white and breathe heavily. Sometimes I accidentally grab someone next to me but HEY it happens.
Our turbulence was not…mild.
So, I was jolted out of sleep by some crazy bumping and rocking and free falling and I’m exhausted and startled and sure of imminent death. I am sort of ashamed to admit that I grabbed my boyfriend and actually started crying while silently reciting some psalms.
Oh, Me at 3 Am. There’s a reason I’m usually sleeping at this hour.
I finally removed my claws from my boyfriend’s arms, leaving only minor gashes, sipped some water and surrendered to the fact that if the plane was indeed going to free fall out of the sky, I was sort of out of luck at that point.
But of course, we made it. Or else, how would I be typing this? (I KNOW. HAD YOU GUYS ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEATS!)
We landed in Jacksonville a little before 4 am and then walked to the car rental counter which was deserted because everyone went home.
So we moved into the airport and are living quite comfortably there. THE END!
The only one working was a man named Al from Turkey who actually worked for Avis but decided to help everyone at the Budget counter because he had access to their computers or who even knows why.
Now, I just want to give the biggest shout out to Al from Avis who was pretty much THE BEST PERSON IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. It was 4 am. He had been working since noon. He was not only kind but DOWNRIGHT HILARIOUS AND EXCITED FOR LIFE.
Mind you, Al is dealing with a WHOLE LOAD OF UNHAPPY FOLKS. Tired, gross, annoyed, frustrated, YOU NAME IT. An angry mob of people who just want to get their flippin’ rental cars and drive them somewhere. Preferably off a dangerous cliff.
AL: What can I do for you folks?
Us: We have a reservation.
AL: (takes my boyfriend’s license) Nashville, Tennessee, huh? What are you folks doing down here?
Us: Going to the beach for the weekend.
AL: THAT SOUNDS SO GREAT! I love the beach. The beach is awesome. Lemme see if I can upgrade your car to a super awesome beach vehicle.
Us: Um. Sure.
AL: What kind of car do you usually drive at home?
Us: The subway?
AL: HA HA THAT’S AWESOME. New York’s a great town, right?
Al: I’m gonna give you guys a much better deal than I gave the couple in front of you.
(Al upgraded the couple in front of us to a Jeep Wrangler)
Al: Here’s what I’m gonna do for you. I’m gonna give you a car that’s usually $100/day except I’m only gonna charge you $24/day. It’s a totally awesome beach car: a Chrysler 300. It looks just like a Bentley.
Us: Thank you!?
Al: Are you married? Live at the same address?
Al: (to me) BUT YOU’RE WORKIN’ TOWARDS IT, RIGHT?
Al: DON’T WORRY. IT’S JUST A PIECE OF PAPER.
Al: (winks) It’s just that if you’re married or have the same address, I can just charge you for one person instead of two.
Me: Oh, no problem.
Al: Okay! Just initial this piece of paper 17 times and you’ll be on your way to the beach!
Al: Is there anything else I can do for you folks today?
My Boyfriend: I’m pretty sure you’ve done it all.
Al: THANKS! HAVE A GREAT TIME AT THE BEACH!
Us: THANK YOU, AL!
And with that, my boyfriend and I died laughing and made our way out to the lot to find our beach car.
Now, I understand Al was trying to be helpful, right? A Bentley is a super fancy car. But…when I saw our Chrysler 300, I was super confused. It looked like something a grandpa would drive. I mean, the thing is a BEAST. It’s enormous. And more importantly, what about it (or a Bentley, for that matter) screams BEACH CAR?
I mean, I guess maybe I could see it, if I tried hard enough.
The saga of our very very long travel experience culminated in us finally arriving at his parents’ beach house (IN A CRAZY AWESOME BEACH CAR WHAT WHAT YEAH) around 5:30 in the morning.
The upside to that entire story is that I then spent the next three days doing all of my favorite things: sleeping, eating, going to the beach, drinking wine and eating some more. I also got to do all these things with my boyfriend’s family who are Southern and therefore make everything sound really polite and inviting. This whole weekend, I realized how Yankee I am.
For one, at restaurants, when the servers kept coming by the table to chat or say hi or ask how I was doing, my initial reaction was: WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU WANT FROM ME?
I’m used to the servers in New York City throwing a plate down in front of me and walking away, never to be seen again.
MY GOSH YOU GUYS!!! Everyone down South is so polite! Which I had totally forgotten about because the last time I spent anytime down there was about 2006. (I did squeal with delight when we drove past a Waffle House but my boyfriend is cruel and wouldn’t let me go there.
I also found myself stammering “Yes ma’ams” and “No, sirs” the entire time because when everyone around you is doing it and you’re not? You sound like SUCH an asshole.
My North vs. South experience was picture perfect complete when someone at the dinner table one night brought up the Civil War and I was treated to a story about when the “South fought The Union” which was the funniest thing ever to me because I did not grow up hearing it quite like that. (We learned in school that the Civil War was when the “North fought the South” or when the “North fought the Confederacy” and is ANYONE ELSE FINDING THIS DISTINCTION VERY FUNNY AFTER ALL THIS TIME?
But I am so in love with the accents and the generosity and talk of deep fried turkey at Thanksgiving. My God, y’all. I’m about to start saying y’all.
In summation: my Memorial Day weekend got off to a crazy start but ended well and now I am back up North in the Big City, bein’ a regular Yankee, getting ignored by the waitress at this coffeeshop as I try to flag her down for more cawfee.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go mourn the fact that we had to return our
Bentley Chrysler 300 back to Al at the Jacksonville Airport.
I miss you, beach car.
I miss you so daggone much.