Barely out of pajamas, eyes still puffy from lack of sleep, second day hair, cosmetics hurriedly applied. Long lines at check in counters. Longer lines at security. Like cattle prodded through chutes, we advance forward, but in silence, smiles buried under stress of hurry up in a long line of wait. Finally, my turn with the security agent. Produce ID again, shoes off, jacket off, 3 oz liquids exposed in quart-size zip lock, laptop rides alone outside its protective sleeve. Did I remember everything? The beeper sounds. No! Cell phone in my pocket. Blast! Back to the conveyor belt. Deposit phone into tub—not the one with the laptop. Laptop rides alone, remember. Choose another tub. I have four. I pick the tub with the shoes. Back to security booth. Place feet to match painted prints on floor, arms over my head, hold my breath, not unlike being at the doctor’s office for my annual pap and mammogram. (Does the x-ray show my red face)? Step through the booth. No beep. Repack; computer in its sleeve, phone in pocket, reload shoulder bag, slip on shoes, grab jacket, grab pillow, stack tubs. It’s a race. While not actually run over by the fellow who follows, he who hesitates hazards deep sighs and furrowed brows for holding up the dance. Find my gate. Relax. Look at the schedule. Two hours to departure.
Hurry up and wait.
The departure gate changes twice, but I’m not informed. The first time, I over hear the attendant telling another passenger. The second time, a half hour before departure, I sit alone at the gate B93. Something is wrong. I check the Departure board. The gate has been changed to B52. Heart pounding in my temples, I sprint, twenty five pounds on one shoulder, ten pounds on the other, a death grip on my pillow. With ten minutes to spare, I’m second to the last passenger to board. I find my seat. We don’t leave for another fifteen minutes.
Hurry up and wait.