Friday, July 22, 2011

Addition to itinerary: Philadelphia

At 5:45 my dear friend Scott picked me up and drove me to BWI - the Baltimore airport. I had printed my boarding pass, passed through security and settled in with my breakfast sandwich and ice coffee and it was still only 6:25. My flight was at 8. We boarded the flight and were settling in for take-off when the pilot told us that we would be delayed for fog until 9:22. My connecting flight in Philly was scheduled for 9:40. Drat. Since Baltimore isn't an international airport, everything gets routed through PHL, so EVERYBODY on the plan had connecting flights to catch (because, seriously, who takes a 17 minute for their final destination?) Mass pandemonium ensues on the plan and the only thing the poor stewardesses can say is to "text" US Airways for flight updates. Great. A few minutes later, the pilot updates us to say that they bumped up our take-off - HOORAY! ... to 9:17 - Booooooooo.

We do indeed lift-off at 9:17 on the dot and I'm wondering if a 9:34 touch-down in PHL will give me enough time to sprint through the airport to my other gate. When we land, I'm updated via text that my other flight is delayed until 9:55. I RUUUUUUN through the terminal over to Terminal B (which is apparently FAR) and get there pretty much as the plane is taking off. If you know me, you know that this is about the most infuriating thing that could possibly happen to me.

I'm directed to "Special Services." It is, indeed, a "special" experience. I'm informed that my flight has been pushed to 9:40 TOMORROW because apparently I am not a priority customer and thus did not make the cut-off for the other flight that afternoon. After some grumbling and one failed attempt at standby, I frantically text Philly friends for a couch to sleep on. Fortunately, being stranded in your college town means that you know your way around and have friends to call on. I took the train and a cab to my friend Jess D's house, who graciously let me crash for the day/night. After a little freshening up, I went in search of food. I settled for a pricey cafe in Rittenhouse Square, because after being told that I was not enough of a "priority" for US Airways, I wanted someone to treat me nicely. I stuffed myself with a wasabit encrusted tuna-soba noodles salad, glass of wine, creme brûlée and a cappuccino. Gluttonous? Yes. Worth it? YES. Then I wondered around Barnes and Noble for a bit before meeting Jess for Happy Hour.

Lastly, I remembered that my lovely friend Victoria was starring in Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare in the park that night, so we made our way up to Clark Park. Victoria was enchanting on stage - er - field - as ever and the show was lovely. It was wonderful to be back at Penn for a brief detour. That campus is virtually haunted with wonderful memories for me. Every inch summons a vivid thought, image, sound or feeling. I can remember entire conversations that took place all over that campus. I occasionally instruct myself to fully commit experiences to memory with an intention that's lacking from more passively acquired memories. "You will want to remember this," I think, as I take more concentrated notice of the sights, sounds, feelings, smells of the moment. It's kind of like telling yourself to take a deep breath. You'll breathe without thinking about it, but if you do it consciously, it's deeper, slower, fuller, more fully realized. Intentional memories are kind of like that.

After the show, we were in dire need of air-conditioning and chilled out (pun intended) for a while at Queen of Sheba where we enjoyed some delicious Ethiopian food while catching up with each other. I suppose if I couldn't be on a beach in Mexico with a margarita, enjoying food, drinks and theatre with college friends is the next best thing. Ok, maybe it's the first best thing.

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