Beeline To Baltimore

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Detroit Wayne airport psychedelic tunnel. And no, that’s not me on the walkalator.


Already it is proving to be a skewed day.
My 7:35AM flight gets cancelled, I am bumped to the 11:55AM connection to Detroit that’s bound for Baltimore. This is where I hope to be able to spend the 4th of July weekend.

At the hotel desk, the Peruvian clerk with the smoky eyes apologizes to me for not confirming the taxi I asked her to call hours ago. When the taxi finally arrives, there’s barely enough time for me to catch the plane.

Great. I wake up indecently early, and I am still going to be late.

I charm the taxi driver, implore him I need to be at the Lexington airport in less than the 20 minutes it usually takes to get there. The big burly man, almost 6 feet tall grins at me and proceeds to whisk us at light-speed on the interstate. Less than 15 minutes later, I am at the Northwest gate, peeling off a generous tip.

I breeze through security check, and stroll into the waiting lounge just as boarding starts. I didn’t even have time to sit—I go from taxi, through airport, to plane.

There’s just time to catch my breath, will my nerves to relax, and then the plane is off.

In front of me, a boy maybe 13, maybe 15, in a faded orange shirt watches with great interest the rapidly falling landscape below. I can’t take my eyes off his long lashes, the freckles carousing on his pale nose. Beside him, his dad keeps adjusting the beautiful Bose headphones he has on. I see only the back of his head, buried in the crisp spread of newspapers. The boy and his dad would barely speak to each other for most of the trip.

Outside, from my window I see perfect puffs of clouds, all the same size and shape, all neatly lined up in rows. I find this really eerie, as though we were passing an assembly line in the sky. Fifty-thousand fluffy 5-pound clouds, coming right up!

And this being Kentucky, there were only two Asians on board, one of them me, the other a late thirtyish-looking Japanese, tall for an oriental, dressed in jeans and a black shirt, like me. We were seated in the same row, and he stands up to let me take the window seat. He is very quiet. His hands had delicate fingers, the moons of his nails were very white.

The moment the airplane doors closed he was out of his seat and over to the next aisle, two rows down. Of course, it won’t do to be seated next to the only other Asian on board. God forbid people might think we are related. Or worse, married.

I try to sneak in a little nap, but I’m too keyed up to make it work. I decide to jot down some notes on a Post-It for this entry instead. I find that writing down impressions, imagery, and impudent observations gives them an aura of the surreal.

Sure enough, as we land in Detroit, when I stand up and take a sideways glance back, there is a strand of blonde hair on my seat.

In Detroit, my 1:57PM flight gets cancelled again. They’d rather I just wait around some more for the next one, which is at 3:10. I call my sister and tell her there’s no need to hurry.

I plunk my bags and myself down on the black leather seat. The sleepy-looking old lady sitting nearby favors me with a curious stare, but doesn’t return my smile. I try valiantly not to give in to the urge to head directly for the bar that’s right across and start swigging a few.

It is only half-past 12. I am neither here nor there, and Baltimore seems so far away.

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