i figured, hey, she must be the new participant for next season's "brat camp", right? her parents must've realized she's made of drugs & promiscuous sex & now they're shipping her off to be repaired by strangers with psych degrees in a desert somewhere. then the woman next to her got up, & i realized it was one of our stewardesses who'd delivered this news - so the parents couldn't even tell her themselves. nice.
she clunked her head against the window in a very forelorn, broken sort of way. "brat camp" or not, i thought i could at least offer a "dude, whatever it is won't last forever & you'll make it through, don't sweat it so much" & maybe give the poor kid a little perspective. so i leaned forward & said conspiratorially, "psst. hey, what happened?"
she turned so i could see one teary eye & part of her nose in the space between the seat & the window, & she said, "my husband died."
insert screeching halt here.
i sat back, hissed out a "fuuuck" which she acknowledged briefly & turned back around. there's just nothing you can say in response to that. nothing will make it any easier or any better.
after a couple minutes, i leaned forward again & offered, "hey, i'm just a stranger & all, but tell me if i can do anything for you." she nodded.
& then i went back to my novel, where the VERY next paragraph had someone die tragically. when the plane landed & we all crowded out, i realized she had been sitting in seat 13A. not that these things have anything to do with anything, but they were things i noticed.
the PA/NJ trip, for me anyhow, went off without a hitch. it was of course fantastic to see tom & laura again, & mica (the queen of cans & jars for you RAB regulars) came along as well, flying in from CA for unknown reasons. i have fresh photos of what mario barth did to my ribcage for three hours & these can be sent upon request if i don't hate you. yes, it was the most painful thing i've purposely done to myself.
& now a cheery story about going back to FL to offset the tragic story about going to PA:
mica & i were out on 8:30 & 9:30am flights respectively, though tom & laura don't catch their trains to work until seven something, so it was settled that mica & i would say goodbye the night before & see ourselves off in the morning. the R1 train went right to the airport & was only a ten minute walk from their house, so it should've been no problem. should've.
laura gave us instructions to walk down to the end of their street, make a left, cut straight through the park which would spit us back onto the same street we were just on, & we'd see the station from there. well, walking down the street was no problem, & making the left was no problem, & seeing the station once we hit the street again was no problem, but laura somehow neglected to mention that this "park" was in no way a "park".
when you think "park", you think trimmed lawns, streetlamps, maybe a sidewalk, some benches, perhaps playground equipment. "meadow" would be closer to accurate, since that calls to mind longer grass, no lights & no sidewalks... but what would really be precise would be to say "you reach the train station by walking through the forest".
this was not a park with mowed lawns & streetlamps. this was a fucking forest with a semi-clear path with branches to avoid, vague rock steps, strange animals running around (& fortunately away from our presence), plants that leave those green sticker things on you, trees that expectorate sap on you, & cobwebs. a lot of cobwebs. but none of this would've been a real problem had there been some daylight filtering through the trees.
mica's 8:30am flight meant we wanted to arrive to the airport by 7, which meant we needed the 5:53 train, which meant we would leave the house at 5 or 5:15 so we'd have time to stop at wawa (the northeast's answer to 7-11) for mica's coffee & my overindulgence in tastycake fruit pies which cannot be purchased out of state. since mica & i are both "better safe than sorry" types with regards to air travel, we went ahead & left as soon as we were both ready to go, at about 4:50am. not that this mattered, since it didn't start to become light out until we were practically ON the train, but here's your visual:
so we're coming up to the "park", saying to each other that this doesn't look good at all & where are the streetlights & benches & do you have a flashlight & we are so going to get raped by a wino or disemboweled by a mountain lion or both by either. there seems to be a clear enough path to follow, & for about a dozen steps in it's even somewhat visible. then it becomes about a half shade lighter than solid pitch black. mica's carrying two medium-sized bags & i have a small duffelbag on wheels that i'm pulling behind me with my left hand so as not to stretch my now ten hours old & very sore tattooing on my right side. i push mica in front so as to decrease the chances of my walking directly into something ribs-first. with my right hand, i'm now holding onto one of her bag straps because she's disappeared from my sight twice already by moving less than a yard ahead. seriously can't see shit. mica runs into this big branch that we're not certain is even ON the path, but ducking under it still seems pretty clear, so we go on that way. something the size of a small dog scampers away to our right. our eyes are as big as they get & it's SO dark that it seems like we should be able to see everything, but sure can't. we press on & the trail we are now following by shuffling our feet winds up some bad steps & turns to the left, which upsets us because we both think we should be heading rightish to stay straight & end up back on the street that the "park" bisects. several times mica exclaims that she can't believe we're actually in a pitch dark forest in the dead of night, & i note that they show afterschool specials about this sort of thing. but without being raped & killed (or killed then raped), we eventually start to see the streetlights glowing up ahead, & a fence comes into view. we're both oh-so excited to hop a FENCE after all that, with our crap & mica in a skirt & my sore ribs, but the path leads, slightly more clearly now, to an opening between the end of the fence & the treeline & we escape the woods.
back on the street, we try to clear the cobwebs from our faces & mica gets a handful of some kind of sticky brown crap from her hair. we happily (semi-happily at least) pass a street sign that assures us we're where we should be. a half mile & the train station comes into view, & then the wawa a couple blocks farther.
mica had her coffee & i drank my fruit2o at the train station & we verbally composed several nasty letters to tom & laura of the sort: "dear assholes. your 'park' seems a bit overgrown. thanks for thinking ahead & giving us those flashlights we so desperately could've used. fuck you very much. love, lish & mica".
i'm glad to report there were no other incidents on our treks home.
so, two trips down, two more to come in the next five weeks. i'm travelling with chris for the next one, so i don't need further entertainment, but i'd appreciate book suggestions for my 19.5 hours of travel time to & from CA next month (it's about 8h to the opposite coast including the 1h layover over each way, plus the "lish gets to the airport 1.5-2h in advance since she expects to be fully strip-searched & felt up several times by airport security" time allotment). please leave titles, authors, & a brief synopsis of the plot. thanks.