I ran an errand

What I did: flew to Florida to get a car and drove it home to Bedhead Hills, New York.


What I did beforehand: JetBlue from LaGuardia–just one of New York City’s three perfectly terrible airports.


Who went with me: the Bacon Provider.


What I wore: James jeans and orange Pumas.


Why I went: there are things you will do for some people that you might not be willing to do for anyone else.


Where I sat: five hours driving, five hours navigating, repeat.



Things that were delicious: we stopped for barbecue near Savannah, Georgia.
Things that were sad: when we were 100 miles from anywhere, deep in South Carolina, I looked at one of the three oil gauges to see the needle in the red. The car has separate gauges for oil level, oil temperature, and oil pressure. The gauge indicating badness, we determined, was the oil level gauge. A quick check using the dipstick contradicted the gauge. But it also revealed that a rather large hole had opened in a hose. 
Things that were funny: we tried two kinds of tape but neither stuck. 


Things that were awesome: we stopped at the almost-halfway point, in North Carolina, at K. & B.’s. They hosted a little kid birthday party that day, and already had other houseguests, and did not hesitate to say we could stay the night. They even waited to start dinner until they knew we’d be in time. Good thing I brought homemade gifts.
What it is: 1200 miles in two days.


Who should see it: people who love to drive and don’t mind going without cup-holders.

What I saw on the way home:



I attended a wedding

What I saw:  my cousin’s wedding at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City, Missouri. 

What I wore: black Fluevog stranger-friendly heels, new blue abstract-patterned Brooks Brothers dress that I may, on reflection, have purchased in a size too large, pantyhose  that makes my pale legs look so pale they glow in the dark, gold jewelry given to me by the Bacon Provider and my mother, eye-makeup, and, briefly, lipstick.

What I did beforehand: drove to Jeff City in a rented Cadillac, with my brothers first complaining that it smelled like cigarettes (it did), then navigating with only occasional input from technology, and everywhere urging me to back into parking spaces or to go faster.

Who went with me: my brothers and a hundred others.

How I got invited: I received a “Save the Date” card last summer, and an invitation in the mail this winter. In the End Times, will wedding invitations be the last items sent via U.S. Mail? 

Why I went: I think my mother would have wanted us to go.

Where I sat: in the third row of pews, on the bride’s side.

Things that were sad: my mother would have been there, in a flowy floral dress or maybe a navy skirt and a crisp white blouse with interesting buttons and a long jacket with just enough unusual silver jewelry (but never too much) showing off the gleam of her now snowy-white hair. She died in 2004.

Things that were funny: a six-year old relative, whose mom was the bride, did his part in the procession, holding a baby by the hand and leading her down the aisle in her peach tulle skirt only to fall deeply asleep himself in the pew ahead of us, and there he remained, silent and still, until roused to leave during the recessional organ music, Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Things that were not funny: one of the readings during the wedding mass was from the Letter to the Ephesians, and I laughed audibly when the brides aunties, recruited to go to the podium, read the words, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”  I am one of those radical feminists that thinks women are actually people. What can I say?

What it is: I mean. What even is a wedding? Now we have gay marriage in America, so everyone can make an expensive, bad life choice. 

Who should see it: go to your cousins’ weddings, people. Read books about feminism on the plane on the way there, and essays about the failure of the American Peace Movement on the way home. 

What I saw on the way home: the air above America was a great, green-gray spill, the color of industrial waste, flecked with the white foam of real clouds.

I flew

I took a plane from Newark to St. Louis on an Embraer EMB-145, operated by EXPRESSJET AIRLINES INC. doing business as United Express. 

What I saw: the lights of a small, midwestern American city from way up high. The streets were made three-dimensional by the interplay of streetlights and mist, spread like a great glowing tentacled beast, clutching the contours of the earth.

What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots (coated in an authentic coating of fine horse-show dust), James jeans with stretch that I like to wear on planes, new navy embroidered peasant blouse (made in India), no makeup, scowl.
Geo Washington Bridge
What I did beforehand: used Google maps to drive to Newark Liberty International Airport and for once did not get lost in New Jersey.

Who went with me: 37 strangers and crew.

All anyone does anymore in airports is look at their phones

How I got tickets: online, from United Airlines.

Why: family obligations 

Where I sat: 3D

Things that were sad: after I had packed, but before I left, I was sitting in the kitchen thinking about what I might have forgotten, and I was suddenly struck with an inexplicable feeling of sadness.
Things that were funny: my car’s navigation system announced the GWB as the “Geo Washington bridge,” rhyming “geo” with “Rio.”

Things that were not funny: the bro-guys drinking beer in the Earl of Sandwich in the A Terminal of Newark Liberty Airport comparing notes on why they’re voting for Trump.

What it is: about a two-hour flight

I take this photo almost every time I fly

Who should see it: people who like turbulence, folks for whom a palm-sized bag of “Asian Snack Mix” is adequate for dinner, anyone who can sleep sitting up.

What I heard on the way home: Google Maps pronounces “Ladue” as “LAWD-way.”

The Empty Air, and Filled

In my anxiety about traveling alone, I’ve come too early to the airport and must wait. Outside it is hazy, warm and humid, but inside the AC is blowing on me. I showed up carsick and unfed, and so bought food with a crumpled ten I found wadded at the bottom of a purse pocket. I eat a greasy, not nice, slightly desiccated pretzel and drink an ice-filled, sugary lemonade tasting strongly of dust and citric acid and regret. My stomach protests.  I shiver in my seat.
The carpet is supposed to be blue but you know it’s more ratty and stained than blue. I sit in an empty row of connected chairs, facing the window. Two of those retractable hallways block most of my view, stretching away from the terminal but reaching no planes– empty, like rigid sleeves.  I watch a little jet tooling around out there through the gap.  I am not inside my thoughts. The sound of voices. The people who work at gate A23, to my right. The couple directly behind me. The sigh of the woman with a styrofoam clamshell of beef teriyaki over white rice. Is that a TV? People on their phones. Why didn’t I bring a raincoat or sweater? I’d have them both on if I had them now.
I buy two books in the Hudson News; I’ve read them both, and liked them enough to recommend them, but they are not for me. I will take them to my aunt in the hospital, just as soon as I land. I consider buying a giant pink I-heart-NY hooded sweatshirt, for the irony or because I’m cold. I feel like I’m an asshole for even considering it.
We passengers fill the little jet quickly, and the captain tells us with surprise that we are next to take off. I can feel the acceleration, I think, and wonder if I’m going to be airsick, too. My father, in the middle of his career, traveled frequently, but liked to brag about St. Louis being so well situated, out there, smack in the middle of the country. It was the perfect hub to travel from. A two-hour flight to New York. Back then he would time his drive to the airport so he could park his car and walk straight through the terminal, and through the open doors of the jet-way onto a waiting plane, about to depart.
The slightly stooped flight attendant is almost too tall for this little plane. He asks, “What will you be drinking on our flight today?” I look stunned. “You’ll want something,” he continues. “It’s a two hour flight.” I consider a beer but settle for hot tea.
The turbulence. The squeals of a baby. The two coughs. Repeated. The tinkle of the hollow ice cubes in a real glass in first class. The roar of the plane. High, light, loud, white noise filling all the air inside the plane. Making the atmosphere inside seem almost visible. To be inside and high. High and moving forward.
The woman in 1D is too loud and too chatty. She wants to know if they have Jameson. The flight attendant doesn’t know. She’s on her way to Bonnaroo. She is starting nursing school and changing careers after 6 years in a psychiatric program. She settles for a Jim Beam and ginger ale. She says didn’t even vote in the last presidential election because she didn’t like the guy. And not voting is her right, you know. She seems too old for Bonnaroo.
I try to read. Another pair of squeals. The man in 2C is tapping his toe arythmically.
The sky above the clouds

Bonnaroo heads to the bathroom. I am offered more tea. 1C struggles to return his folded tray table to the arm of his seat. It is folded, but somehow still not fitting. The flight attendant is not going to help him; he is busy, behind a curtain in the galley, fetching my tea.  More table-wrestling from 1C. The curtain moves as 1C loses his temper, and begins bashing the folded table into the slot it doesn’t fit into. As the flight attendant dances around the curtain, 1C calmly refolds it. This time, it fits.
2C leaps to his feet and bolts to the bathroom.
Bonnaroo orders a cranberry-apple juice with Tito’s, and a water, on the side.
The book I’ve brought to read is too good and too rich to read more than a few pages at a time. I think about writing. I can’t get the crusty tick bite I found on my horse’s tail out of my mind. I tell myself to write about it anyway. “You have to write beautifully, even if your subject matter is the crust on your horse’s tail,” I write to myself. It is a joke. Asshole.
I find more money in a bank envelope in the back of my notebook. How high are we? 30,000 feet? I am up here, high in the air, finding money and thinking about my mare’s asshole. She is a gray, and melanomas are common in grays. But this is the cancer that killed my dad. It acts differently in horses. Grays. Horses, of a color, known collectively by that color. We try not to refer to people this way, when we don’t want to be assholes.
Chestnuts have a reputation of being nutty and opinionated, on account of their red-headedness. My chestnut is a beauty, and sometimes naughty when you ride. Or, should I say, when I ride, because he saves his worst for me?
Thinking about needing to pee when the seatbelt sign is lit. I write that secretly I think St. Louis gave my father cancer, not the sun. Or bad luck.
1C has noticed me scrawling. I resolve to develop a more inscrutable handwriting.
Another invisible bump in the air. From here I imagine we bounce all the way to the ground. Bouncing down the sky. The ground will be smooth. The captain calls the flight attendant. He listens at the handset, his eyes rolled up into his head, blinking.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the captain is advising us we can expect some rough air going in to St. Louis.”
He tidies the curtain under neat straps.
Bonnaroo returns her bag to the overhead bin, crushing mine underneath it.
I never did get up to pee. We will bounce down the air, to the ground. The captain himself announces, “Flight attendants, please prepare the cabin for arrival.”
I look out at the farm pattern of the green and tan squares below. Neat, straight roads interrupted by dark green bits of forest remaining and then the wandering water of a mud brown river or creek. I ask Missouri silently to take care of my aunt. It’s in the mid 80s out there.
I see the Mississippi. Downtown. The new stadium. The Arch. I see Forest Park, Clayton. What does it mean to be from here? Who am I now? We are low above highways. I used to know all their names. I learned to drive here. Bump. We are down.

An Absolutely True and Unexpected Message #5

Once again, an exciting bit of information in my Hotmail inbox. 
I didn’t know I was going to Chattanooga tomorrow! I wonder what airport I’m flying from. The subject line read “Your Order#656869506‏.” A zip file (39.4 KB) was enclosed!

From:American Airlines (order.id7079@aa.com)
Sent:Fri 2/10/12 6:01 PM


DATE & TIME / FEBRUARY 12, 2012, 09:30 AM
ARRIVING / Chattanooga

Please find your ticket attached.
To use your ticket you should print it.

Thank you for your attention.
American Airlines.