Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Warning: Long vacation post ahead...

Thank you, Bethany, for one terrific weekend!

Bethany's decision to become a flight attendant has been a pretty exciting one. She's called her mama from the observation deck of the Sears Tower in Chicago and from the airport in Palm Beach and from seaside hotel rooms in Corpus Christi and Norfolk and lots of other unexpected locales at crazy times of day. (She says that I'm the only person she can safely call at 4:45 in the morning, and since our cell-to-cell calls are FREE, we can talk as much and as often as we like. What a luxury!!)

And this weekend, she got me two Buddy Passes so I could visit my parents! My mom was recently diagnosed with dermatomyositis (which although troublesome--especially when paired with her lung problems--isn't as fatal as the diagnosis she was given last summer!), and my dad is recovering from a horrible car wreck. Although they're both weaker than usual and moving a little slower than they're used to and Mom's left-side body swelling is kinda' weird and Dad's bruises are pretty SPECTACULAR, it was a real comfort to see them in such good spirits. They're happy and doing good work in the church in Schuyler and people care for them, really CARE about them, and it puts my mind at ease a little bit. (Karen and I feel so helpless and far away down here, and we just can't stand it sometimes!)

AISD's mandatory staff development ended on Thursday at 4:00 p.m., and about ten hours later (1:18 on Friday morning), my car left Abilene for DFW. Talk about a nice surprise--at 3:30 a.m., Falisha called and suggested that I park my car at her house instead of paying for parking at the airport! She assured me that she wasn't sleepy a bit and wouldn't fall asleep after dropping me off at the terminal so I agreed. What a treat! Even though I was sad that her own travel plans fell through (she was supposed to be on a June 1st Buddy Pass from Bethany, too, but her FedEx envelope never came), it was so lovely to get to see her and hug her and get TO THE DOOR service at the airport instead of riding the remote parking lot shuttle. What a lovely surprise.

And then the craziness started. Flying stand-by is a whole other travel adventure. You have no idea if you can get on the plane or not...talk about suspense! The thrill of travel is kicked up a notch, to be sure. When I was bumped from the 7:30 flight out of DFW, I was stranded there for nine hours (checked in at 4:50 a.m. and didn't leave until 2:45 p.m.). It's like schizophrenia. Or gambling. Just getting YOUR seat in A seat is a little victory!

And since Bethany works for a shuttle service instead of a major airline, you have to catch a lot of little flights instead of going somewhere directly...which means more places you can get hung up. Instead of taking two planes like I usually do when I fly from Texas to N.C., I flew on five planes and landed in airports I've never seen before, like Norfolk.

Also, you can only ride shuttles operated by that company so even though US Airways has other flights to your location WITH SEATS OPEN, you aren't eligible to ride them. The hard part is getting the gate agents NOT to put you on non-Republic flights. Over and over I had to remind them to only look for flight numbers operated by Bethany's shuttles. (One agent went ahead and, trying to be helpful, issued me US Airways tickets directly to Philly without asking me, and surprised me with them. I was just heartsick when I had to turn them down, reminding her that my daughter's Buddy Pass only works on Republic and Chautauqua flights. She was so cool about it, though, and laughed it off. She tore off the travel coupons and started over, even though there was chaos all around us...lines of harried passengers, angry people who had exceeded their checked baggage allowance, people who had missed their flights, a frozen computer that was giving two other check-in agents fits, people hugging and crying as they said their goodbyes...pure, unrestrained craziness. I don't know how the airline folks work under all that stress.)

And what a whirlwind of fun once I arrived...Russ, Amanda Faye, Taylor, and I did a whirlwind tour of Greensboro on Saturday--the Historical Museum where I used to work (and where I received a hug from the esteemed Betty K. Phipps, who was there for a special Saturday kids' program!) and my favorite consignment store (The Clothesline), and lunch at Jack's (tabouli and hummus and baba ghanouj and falafel and gyros--YUM!)!

Then it was off to Schuyler in Amanda Faye's car, graciously lent to me for the weekend. I stopped at a highway produce stand near Lynchburg for fresh fruit & veggies, picked strawberries at pick-your-own Seaman's Orchard in Roseland, and ordered take-out from our favorite Thai place, Thai Siam on Route 56 in Arrington. (Get the beef larb and ask for it "Thai hot," if you want to cry and sweat!)

Next was a lovely weekend with Mom and Dad and Dolly. (I'm going on eBay to find a leash that soft!) We just stayed at home and enjoyed each other's company and good food. Plus, they get an amazing NPR station with a blues program Saturday night that Dad and Dolly and I enjoyed while Mom ran down to the building to run off the church bulletin. Sunday was just a lovely Lord's Day--Schuyler Baptist Church homecoming! A thoughtful Sunday School class from a Christian paleontologist who doesn't believe that evolution and the Bible are at odds with each other, a wonderful sermon from a friend of Dad's, hymns that made Mom and me choke up, old-time gospel music from the Little Mountain Boys (I bought a CD!), and an abundance of delicious food afterwards. (Oh, and about ten minutes before church, I found out that I was on the program doing the Scripture reading! Yikes!) Sunday was so special and was topped off by a visit with my dear friend Margaret, and a ride back to Charlotte with Amanda Faye. (What a pistol!)

It was a wonderful weekend with LOTS of fun and NOT A LOT of sleep. With the exception of Bethany and Karen's family, I got to see and hug almost everyone I love best...Falisha, Taylor and her mom, Russ, Amanda Faye, Mom, and Dad!

Thank you to everybody who made this weekend possible! Summer School starts tomorrow, and I'm not crying because actually feel like I've been on my summer vacation already! :-)


Kirsten said...

Yes, a post!

You are having way too much fun in way too little time! I'm glad you made it home as I was sweating starting Summer School by myself. Was thinking of what I can say to all the people who wanted to book the library, like, "Hmmm...we can't do that, you see I don't like to work during summer and we just are going to be here pretending".
Can't wait to see you and catch up with all that happened!

Sandra said...

Happy that you are blogging again. And I can say (as a life-long stand-by flyer myself) you will truly appreciate the value of a fully paid ticket once you've flown stand-by. I slept in more airports than I can count. (I can't believe you had to take FIVE planes.).

Misadventures of the Dynamic Uno said...

Wow! What an exciting trip! I think I'm going for some hummus and tabole now--you made me hungry!

I'm glad your parents are doing better--I've been praying for a speedy recovery for your dad.

Is summer school at Cooper this year?