Home, Sweet Home

Hmmmm. 12/12/12 was not the end of the world after all, as many predicted, but it was one of the longest days of my life!

I detailed the flights and missed connections for you yesterday and wrote the update from JFK airport in the middle of the night. I feel rather like a reporter giving you the scoop from behind enemy lines. Of course flight delays and lost luggage are not nearly so dramatic as that – unless it happens to you.

So here’s the conclusion of my 50+ hour trip back to home sweet home from Italy…

Overall, I think the night in the airport went pretty fast. I tried to doze off sitting at a bar height table with two carry-on bags, but it just didn’t work for me. I was so tired that I thought I would drift off, but there was just too much going on all around to relax and let go. This same area where I took photos of people sleeping on every bench and chair is the same place night time airport employees take breaks and meals. It was constant commotion all night long.

One odd little night shift guy was an elderly black man with half a beard! He had a long white mustache, but only on one side. He drove a little street sweeper type of machine around the hallways and was very funny about it. If even one person appeared in the hall, he would lay on the horn and toot until they got out of the way. (Not that they were in the way to begin with, but he was very serious!) I was so tired that every time I heard him beep that horn I would start laughing out loud. Lord, but I am somehow privy to the strangest things!

A little after 4am I packed up and made my way to the Delta check in desk. Even though I had a flight reservation, I had to check in to lock it in place. Naturally I got to the huge Delta section and there was no one on duty. I plugged my info in to one of the kiosks – what I really needed was a terminal number so I knew where to go next. But the machine came back and said that the flight was having unusual problems and I would have to speak to an agent. Frankly, I was numb and not entirely sure how to process that information.

Pretty soon other people were wandering in and getting in line and then 3 girls showed up and went behind the counter. But they totally ignored everyone queing up to have problems solved. I had to really talk to myself to stay calm and not grab one of them by the shirt collar and demand an end to this ordeal! However, I was first in line and soon I was told the terminal and gate number so I could get going.

Off to the train and exit at terminal 3. And of course there were construction signs everywhere. A young man in a fluorescent vest said the usual route was closed, so I would have to take the escalator to street level and go outside and walk to terminal 3. Just what I wanted to do before daylight in NYC.

I found my way through several blocks, pushing my carry-on uphill in the dark. Was this ordeal ever going to be over?

To get to the gate I had to go through security again. Blast! Off with the shoes, get computer out of bag, hoist everything onto the moving belt, then walk through scanner, which always goes off when it detects my metal knees. Then “female assistance” is called and I get the big pat-down. And it’s a real pat-down. After which, I am shoved to a nearby bench to reassemble myself and my belongings. Only then can I proceed to walk endless corridors to the flight gate.

Oh, it would be so nice to have an Italian caffe about now!

As it is, I can barely hold my eyes open and I tell myself to just hang on till I get on the plane. The flight to Atlanta is 1 hour and 47 minutes, so I can pass out during that.

At least I thought I could…

No, I couldn’t. Well, I did drift off. And then would be brought soundly back to reality by the rudest child in the world, who was sitting in the row behind me. I was stunned by how bad he was. All of us for several rows kept getting startled by his screams and antics and kept periodically turning and looking at him and his dad. They didn’t seem to notice. The little beast was not only bellowing nonstop, he was beating on and kicking everything around him.

When the stewardess came by with a morning drink, I said, “Can you ask the person behind me to calm that child down?” She ignored me. Then it got quiet. Seems the dad took the tyke to the john, so the tall man sitting in the row with them stood beside me and sighed heavily. We commiserated and I told him I was quite on the edge with all the commotion.

Dad and beast-child returned and we all got back to quietly enduring the flight. Except the kid. He outdid himself. And suddenly, without even knowing I was going to do it, I lifted out of my seat, turned and shouted, “THAT is just about ENOUGH!!!” The kid ducked behind his dad and stared out at me. I looked him right in the eye and said, “you are giving me a headache so you need to calm down right now!” One little eyebrow raised up as he appraised me. I sunk back into my seat.

Dad and tyke got up and went to the john again. The tall man scooted forward and said, “Bravo!” to me. All was quiet for a very few minutes and then went back to how it was.

At least it wasn’t a long flight and we were soon done with it. Now all I had to do was find my new gate in Atlanta and maybe get a bit of breakfast.

Really, nothing sounded good in the way of food – I just wanted to get home. And again I had to check in with Delta to confirm my place on the flight. I did that straightaway. Gawd, am I really on my last leg of this endless trip????

Indeed I was. The flight from Atlanta to Dayton is only 1 hour and 2 minutes and I finally felt like I might make it. I just wondered if my luggage was in transit somewhere behind me.

It was quite exciting to finally set back down in Dayton and I steeled myself to carry my bags through one last airport to find Ellyn waiting for me. I started to feel like crying at the very notion. Then, when I rounded the last corner, I could see Ellyn and Colin waiting at the arrival area and tears flooded my eyes. Colin broke free and ran towards me. What a thrill! Of course after one hug he wanted to take over my rolling bag and off he went with it.

Ellyn appeared and took my other bag and for the first time in two days I felt the weight of the world come off my shoulders. Wonderful stuff!

Then we had to find the baggage office and file a report on the missing bags. The Delta girl was very nice and gave us good news: the bags were to arrive in Dayton in 5pm and would go out for delivery to my apartment on the 6pm van. Well, hip hip hooray! I was thrilled.

From there, Ellyn drove me through Taco Bell. It really was the only thing I was hungry for. But Ellyn was right – it didn’t even taste like real food to me anymore. I did eat it, but I kept chewing and thinking, “where’s all that flavor I was used to?”

Back at the apartment, Ellyn and Colin carried in my things and got me settled. And after they left I dove into my oversized, super-soft bed and fell right to sleep. When I came to two hours later I hadn’t moved an inch. And I could have stayed right there for the rest of the night but I had to get up and check on a couple things.

First, no luggage delivery. Dang. And I checked repeatedly before deciding to call the Delta baggage office at the Dayton airport. All they could tell me was that the flight the luggage was supposed to be on had come in late due to being delayed (of course it was!) so the delivery schedule was missed. I am more concerned, however, that the luggage was not scanned as received and can’t be tracked. Was it even on the delayed flight? Who knows…

At any rate, I am back at home, sweet home – which doesn’t feel like that at all right now. It is a new apartment, full of unpacked boxes, and I don’t know where anything is. And I’m so tired that I doubt if I do anything about it for days.

But I’m home… I’m really home. And I’m excited to get started settling in to a new place.

If home is where the heart is, then I’m not sure where I really live. Naturally my heart is firmly rooted to wherever my family is, but I think I just left a piece of it in Lucca Italy and will have to go back and visit it there. Hopefully the traveling part won’t always be so traumatic!

For now I can’t wait to catch up with my kids and grandkids and friends. For now, Ohio is Home, Sweet Home.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pam
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 00:26:37

    What a journey! I feel exhausted for you! Pleased you home in one piece. Here in Cape Town, we are waiting excitedly to see your paintings. Don’t stop blogging!


  2. Jean Miller Ader
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 12:02:27

    Welcome home! I agree with Pam ^ – don’t stop blogging!


  3. Paula
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 17:27:38

    Bravo on putting that “little darling” on notice. At least the other passengers were glad you did you can believe that “missy”. I want to sleep for you. Does that count? Ditto on the blogging! How did we know you would Taco Bell? Karl Fiehler has another name for it! Love n stuff!


  4. lotto
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 23:59:58

    Hello, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog site in Opera, it looks fine but when opening
    in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, superb blog!


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