- a few newspapers
- 3 "real books," (including Amanda)
- 4 ereaders (1 Nook, and 3 Kindles, including mine)
- 3 phones
- 1 gaming device (Kyle)
- 1 skein of yarn
- a lucky soul poring over a map of Italy with her traveling companion
Our substitute plane has arrived at the gate, but we've been "downgraded." They were already overbooked, and now they have even fewer seats. They aggressively recruit more volunteers, now offering $400 vouchers, and dinner vouchers for the airport to take a flight that will leave 6 hours later. This tempts me. $1200 would almost buy our Christmas airline tickets, but that would get us in at 11pm, assuming the flight arrives on time. We would have to get our rental car still, and wouldn't see our friends that night, and even this enticement is not worth it. I don't regret turning it down.
Eventually they get the volunteers, an hour later and after a lot of announcements on the PA, reminiscent of a teacher scolding "I know that you know who stole my stapler. Everyone will be punished until someone returns it, and you are losing recess time until someone comes forwards." We board the plane, getting our reassigned seats according to the new plane configuration. Luckily we have two together, and one single two rows up. Amanda and Kyle beg to be together, and I don't mind the opportunity to sit alone for 2 1/2 hours.
Half an hour into the flight, we hit turbulence. There are lots of children around me -- a girl of 9 in front of me, a 6-year-old boy across the aisle, a 3-year-old (posing as a free 23 month old lap baby without a ticket) in the seat behind them, and of course my own 2 rows back. With each new bump, the children laugh! Instead of feeling like a skipping stone as it sometimes does, this feels like that fun stomach drop you get when you quickly go into a dip on the road or on a roller coaster and the children are euphoric. The moms and I exchange happy smiles, since this is a much better reaction than fear.
We land two hours later than we were supposed to, but the eternal optimist justifies the delay. If we had landed at 5:00pm, our drive might have been doubled, taking an hour or even more with the rush hour delay. Leaving the airport a little after 7:00pm, our trip took less than 40 minutes, arriving only 20 minutes later than my "worst case scenario" of traffic.
Our reunion with dear friends has been sweet and easy.
More to come. . . .