Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I’m sitting at the airport. In Cincinatti. My hour long layover turned into a three hour layover. I barely even noticed. I was sitting next to the gate with Life of Pi, when I suddenly realized there were a lot of concerned, perplexed people standing around me trying to talk to the desk lady. Apparently there was a mixup and a flight crew was not arranged for our flight to Albany. They had to find another one, and they’re arriving from Louisville before 4:00.

It’s already 4:00, however, and although the screen says we’ll be boarding at 4:00, we’re all chilling still. That chilling became quite literal with some mysteriously cold air that recently started blowing around our terminal. A door must be open somewhere.

It’s not so bad, having a layover. I wouldn’t want to spend the night here. That’d be super rough. But they were really cool about giving us meal vouchers for the food court, since we’ll be waiting a while. I used mine at Chick-fil-A. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten there. The box of chicken nuggets I ate said the “all breast meat” was fried in “peanut oil, which is naturally free of trans-fat and cholesterol.” And what about the chicken? Did that breast come from a magical, happy kingdom of free-range chickens roaming a lush countryside, eating a normal chicken diet of grains and insects? I doubt it. It tasted like it was fed on processed corn, steroids, antibiotics and cow guts. It actually wasn’t that bad. Just a little soggy from grease. It did taste like America.

This morning I arrived at the Salt Lake airport in time to see the enormous group of outgoing missionaries, which lined the different gates hogging all the payphone space. They were all flying to Cincinatti, a main hub for transfers. Andrew Wing was one of them. He’s Ethan’s brother. That was a surprise. I listened to him and his companion awkwardly contact a tired-looking woman from Northern Virginia. They talked about lots of stuff, thankfully none of which was the first vision. That might’ve been a little too uncomfortable for me. I mean these guys are fresh out of the MTC. Three weeks in brainwashing spirit prison can often destroy all natural tact and common sense about talking to real people. Andrew, or Elder Wing, gave the woman a pass-along card before she boarded her plane, as a souvenir. Not wanting to disturb their conversation, I waited for my own opportunity to talk to Wing. He didn’t know who I was, but I recognized the red hair and freckles and deep inhaling laugh. And his tag said Wing. He had to be Ethan’s brother.

I talked to him while we waited to board. He made some odd comments about Ethan enjoying being naked and how he likes Cami a lot more than he likes his brother. Such overwhelming affection for an older brother. I wonder what Seth says about me. As we parted Elder Wing made sure to tell me to tell Ethan he contacted someone in the airport.

We just got news our flight will be delayed until 5:00 now. Splendid. I didn’t really have any plans, except maybe a dip at the hotel swimming pool. I did plan on reading up on interview questions and preparing some impressive responses. There’ll be plenty of time for that I’m sure.

My flight from Albany went pretty fast. I sat next to a woman with a five month old daughter, almost as fat as Samuel. It made me miss Samuel terribly, even though I just saw him last night. It feels like much longer! I’m used to greeting him first thing in the morning, or rather, being greeted by him and his tired, beaming morning grin. I’ll see him Friday.

The baby cried a lot. Luckily I had my i-Pod and a good book.

I think my life philosophy is this: do what you have to when you have to, and if you don’t have to do anything, do what you feel like.

I finally arrived in Albany at 7:52. That is almost four hours later than my original ETA. We didn't board our plane until about 5:45, almost six. But it went by pretty fast, honestly. I was reading the whole time, in another world, and I was relishing my uninterrupted time with that book.

I sat next to a man who had obviously had something to drink before getting on the tiny connection airplane. He was dressed pretty nicely, so I assume it was a little more than beer. The odor actually took me back to the cold nights in Ukraine.

Across the aisle sat a gentleman whom I’d noticed in Salt Lake. His carry on luggage was a pair of ski boots. He’d hit up every major ski resort in a week. Who has money to do that? He was also reading Life of Pi, coincidentally. He wasn’t as impressed as I was; he was still bogged down by the lengthy descriptions of Pi’s conversion to three major religions.

My plan was to be tough, resourceful and economical and take public transit to my hotel. Good thing I didn’t. It was a lot further than I thought. I actually snagged a taxi outside the airport. And, change of subject, I didn’t think it was that much colder than Utah, despite the humidity.

The taxi was a van. My taxi driver was named Harlan. He was raised a Jew, married a Roman Catholic, and raised three agnostic children. He talked a million miles an hour in an incomprehensible New York slurred accent, but I thoroughly enjoyed that he called me "Sir," frequently. He was all over the place in our conversation, but the unifying motif of his speech was tacking on the words, “and that’s the extent of it” or “whatever” after every sentence. We talked about everything from a female cardiothoracic surgeon he once drove to Albany Medical to the History of Mormonism to his father’s near scrape with a colostomy to the Banality of the Human Condition. I liked Harlan, and was delighted that my fare cost five dollars cheaper than the estimate on Marriot’s website.