Sunday, June 29
After I do some on-line bill paying on my son's computer (my last guaranteed access to the Internet until we return to American soil), we tear ourselves away from our granddaughter (and oh yes, her parents) and leave for JFK. It's 4:30 in the afternoon. Of course, there's traffic, and an impending storm that has turned the clouds dark. My husband, who is driving our daughter's car, is unfamiliar with the Bronx Expressway to JFK, so we call our son several times to confirm that we're heading in the right direction. Pulling up to the American Airlines terminal, we're greeted with a flash of lightening followed by a peal of thunder. We say the appropriate blessings and caution our daughter to drive carefully. I don't fully relax until she phones us a while later to tell us she's safely home.
The terminal is mobbed with travelers. I spot a couple who, I'm guessing, are part of our tour. (They are.) We pass through security (either the pin that attaches a flower to my hat makes the sensors ping, or my belt; I remove both) and walk the long distance to the gate. Have you been to the new and definitely not improved American Airlines terminal? You have to descend a long, steep escalator to walk a long stretch so that you can go up a long, steep escalator. Brilliant engineering.
Our aircraft is supposed to board a little after six, with a 7 pm takeoff. We relax in the Admiral's Club, where I access the Internet (this is really my last chance) and delete spam. We have time to kill. I finish one of the four paperbacks I brought along. Not great. Not terrible. I take another from my tote and realize I've read it before. I have a momentary feeling of panic-- two books for ten days! Exiting the Admiral's Club I check out one of the shops near the terminal, but nothing catches my eye. I remind myself that I have two books, two journals, and that I probably won't have much time to read.
Also on the tour are my brother, sister-in-law, and a friend. Their flight left L.A. that morning--an hour late, but it should have landed by now. Apparently because of weather conditions at JFK, the aircraft is circling. And circling. And circling. 6:30, and the flight still hasn't landed. I look out the vast windows behind the gates. The sky is clear, the ground is dry. But I'm not a meteorologist. My husband and I become increasingly anxious that my brother, sister-in-law, and friend won't land in time to make the flight to Barcelona. But there is good news: Weather conditions have also delayed the arrival of the aircraft that is to take us Barcelona. I hope my brother and sister-in-law et al know that. (Note: They don't. And the pilot talked about landing in Hartford.) The flight finally lands. We wait two hours before we take off and spend the time chatting with the L.A. contingent (my brother, sister-in-law, our friend, another couple we know from L.A.). I scan the crowd, wondering who else is on our tour.
The flight to Barcelona is eight and a half hours. I nibble at the kosher meal and, even though I know I should be sleeping, I watch Mad Money, a dumb film (sorry, Dianne, Queen Latifah, and Katie) with few redeeming qualities and amoral to boot. But hey, that's just my opinion. Much better is I Could Never Be Your Woman, a cute romantic comedey with Paul Rudd and Michelle Pfeiffer. When the film is over, I leave the Bose headset in place to block the noise of the aircraft while I try to sleep.
When I awake, we're in Barcelona.