Concourse C, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis, Minnesota
I'm crouched on the floor in a corner, behind a bank of video display terminals and next to a noisy people mover, because this is the only spot where I found a working power outlet. And every 20 seconds, a recorded voice repeats, "Caution. You are reaching the end of our moving walk."
And the same voice is coming from all over the airport, from each end of every long people mover. "Caution. You are reaching the end of our moving walk." They overlap as if I were hearing an echo in the Grand Canyon. Except I'm not in the Grand Canyon. I'm in a big, mostly empty, and increasingly annoying talking airport.
"Caution. You are reaching the end of our moving walk."
So anyway. I'm in Gov. Jesse Ventura territory. His face is on everything here, from mugs to sweaters to books. A popular items seems to be the "life-like" Jesse Ventura wrestling doll and the "My Governor Can Kick Your Governor's Ass" bumper stickers.
I think I'm glad I'm only stopping over here for an hour.
On this last flight, my rowmates were paper and pulp bigwigs from Fargo, Indiana (executives from The Paper Company, in fact). We were delayed a few minutes because of an organ transplant carrier being rushed to the airport, but thanks to a tailwind and clear night we made up for it.
We were on a Northwest Airlines 757, smaller than the Hawaiian Airlines DC-10 I had out of Honolulu, and this plane I'm about to get on a DC-9 is smaller still. And there's thunderstorms awaiting me in Pittsburgh.
Have I mentioned I hate flying?
And I'm a bit groggier than usual for air travel, as Nate and I were up until six in the morning (half an hour before Jaimee got up to go to school). We talked all night, about anything and everything... the sort of chat you get when you have to catch up on more than three years best-friendsmanship.
Topics included metaphysics of biking (he'd just finished Lance Armstrong's book, "It's Not About the Bike"), the many failings of men, religion and faith, the nature of love, jealousy and trust, Keirsey and other temprament tests (in the last four years I've somehow gone from INFP to ENTP), the adventure of marriage and parenthood, Republicans, the immigration policies of Canada, childhood memories, and our golden days as sewer rats and tresspassers and various encounters with the police.
We slept until nearly noon, when Nate finally had to wake up to go to campus. Jaimee and I were then left to watch bad daytime television and cook up the last frozen pizza for a last-minute lunch.
Tammy arrived with the van right on schedule, twins in tow, and we all headed off to the airport. A big hug at the curb, a long walk through the airport, and the next thing I knew, I was on my way to Pittsburgh.
I realized two things as the plane took off. One, despite my best efforts, it turns out I know most, but not all, of the "Our Father" prayer. (You know I'm seriously scared of flying if I'm resorting to Catholicism to feel safe.) And two, I forgot my one and only heavy jacket at Nate and Jaimee's apartment. I think my tattered old sweater will rack up a lot of mileage this weekend.
Right now my stomach is turning somersaults just thinking about the inevitable turbulence we'll see coming into Pennsylvania. And. Well. Perhaps also a little about meeting dozens of people I've never met people with whom I've both bantered and debated online for years, and who nonetheless still think this gathering is a good idea.
Flight time is just under two hours. Just long enough for me to finish the layout for the various printed pieces I want to use at the convention.