Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Newly Single Woman Flies Solo

Traveling by myself has never been a big deal to me. I know it is for lots of women; my sister, the inveterate world traveler, for one, cannot get on a plane by herself. But our mother liked me better, or well enough, that is, to pass on to me her zeal for meeting life's challenges as and when they came. So having company on a trip has never been an issue for me. I did Paris on my own and London, and New York more times than I can count. It isn't the doing of the destination that's new to me these days; it's getting to the airport by myself.

In the past, D would drive me, and pick me up: sort of my personal limo service, as it were. He would nag me (incessantly) about leaving on time and query me (querulously) about whether I had packed everything, YES EVERYTHING, I needed. He would then get me to the airport on time without getting lost and deliver me and my luggage to the curbside checkin of whatever airline I was flying. Coming home, the procedure played out in reverse. I would call him from the plane once it landed, and he would drive up to fetch me and my luggage from the same curb at which he'd left me. He hauled the luggage; I lounged in the front seat and regaled him with tales of my trip. Or not, depending on his level of interest. Which was most often, not.

That all changed on my trip to Las Vegas last weekend. It was the first time I've had to haul my luggage and my ass to and from the airport alone. Without any help. Just me and my laptop and my luggage and my purse left to our own devices in that complex known as the Sacramento International Airport (and no, that's not an oxymoron).

I researched and then assessed the cost of having a shuttle pick me up versus driving myself and parking at the airport. The former would certainly be easier, but the latter would be cheaper--by a relatively wide margin of dollars, I might add. So Friday morning, I dropped Molly off at Kritter Kamp, loaded my bags into the trunk and wended my way up Interstate 5 to the airport. I was, I must say, quite proud of myself. I noted that this was a first for me, and that I had handled it successfully. I did all the adult things: left when I said I would, didn't get lost, arrived on time, parked close to the tram stop and carefully marked my parking space number on the lot ticket. I so was proud of myself for having done that--so mature am I, considering that I regularly lose my car in the Target parking lot. Then, as the final mark of my maturity, I carefully placed said ticket in my wallet, so that it would be readily, easily, and handily available when I got back on Monday.

Which it was--readily, easily, and handily available, that is. I pulled it out of my wallet as I sat on the tram taking me back to the long term parking lot. God, I am so mature, so together, so--ready to see my dog and my own bed. I automatically reached into my bag to get my car keys. They were in there, of course, exactly where I had put them when I left the car on Friday. Except I couldn't actually remember which bag I'd put them in: my laptop bag...or my purse...or my suitcase. I started fishing around in each and every one of the twenty or so zippered compartments on the bags. Then I fished around some more. Then I emptied out my purse. Then I fished around some more. All this time, the tram is taking me closer and closer to the parking lot, and then suddenly we're at my spot. And there's my car, exactly where I left it. But my keys? I realize that I have absolutely no memory of them and I can't remember even seeing them during my time in Las Vegas.

This was going to be very interesting. Indeed.

My luggage and I descended from the tram and approached my car. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. In fact, I wasn't sure what I could do. There was a little burble of not-quite-panic, but let's call it discomfort. Then I noticed that--could it be? was my driver's side door really unlocked? Ohhhhnooooooo......... Ohhhhhhyyyeesssss...... I got to the car, opened the door and--

--there on the floor by the gas pedal were my keys. In a flash I knew what had happened: I was so intent on putting the parking lot ticket in a safe place and so proud of my having done the whole trip to the airport by myself, that after I got my luggage out of the trunk, I merely closed it and left. With my keys hanging in the lock of the trunk.

So, kind generous wonderful human being who came along later and saw them dangling there. Honorable person who did exactly the right thing by leaving them where I would easily see them. I don't know if you were a fellow traveler or a Lot C parking attendant, but you are, for me, the hero of Sacramento International Airport.

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