Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Day of Arrivals

12:01am: No baby yet
I really shouldn’t title this with the constriction that it will encompass any single one day. Looking at my watch, this “day of arrivals” began technically yesterday when I woke up at 7:45, but the hands on my watch are both pointing straight up…which means it is one in the morning; my waterproof watch is broken, and there’s no way of setting it after I lopped off the set dial on the side while trying to drain the water out of it (I have more trouble with watches than anyone I know…thank God I don’t have to make the trains run on time). If I want to get even more technical, I could say that we are still under the realms of a single day, as I woke up only 18 hours ago and I haven’t yet surpassed a 24-hour period. I guess I shouldn’t complain, yet, as my woes are only beginning since I don’t see sleep in my near future. I’m sure I will roll over the day before my head returns to a pillow any time soon. Plus, who can sleep in a hospital waiting room where an unusually loud clock is ticking off the seconds of the day like a tisking school marm? I’ll explain:

It seems that today became a day of visiting places of arrivals: I started the morning with a trip to the airport to pick up Carol, Kara’s mother, for a week-long visit from Massachusetts, and I’m going to end the day (well, I’ll probably start well into the next day) welcoming the arrival of my nephew, Alex. Believe it or not, the arrivals didn’t stop there, as the Post Office, FedEx and UPS all three darkened my doorstep with packages within 15 minutes of each other, more arrivals. Now, if only my winning lottery ticket would arrive I’d be set.

2:12am (time adjusted for the broken watch): No baby yet
Kara’s mom flew into Long Beach Airport through JetBlue, and her arrival time was smack dab in the middle of morning rush hour, east-bound, toward Metropolis where the cubical-hardened office jockeys eek out their days, so I had to enjoy the sight of slow-moving cars operated by dim-witted drivers on an especially ugly freeway under overcast skies for longer than any one person should be allowed. If you’ve ever driven in any inclement weather (in Southern California, someone spitting off of the overpass is considered inclement weather), you’ll know that sunshine seems to power intelligence. Without it, the parts of people’s brains that control rationality and accountability inexplicably turn off, and they possess dullard qualities in all of their actions, predominately their driving skills suffer.

I like the airline, and flying with them has always been a treat (well, I use that term liberally; they’re a treat as much as it is a treat to eat a frozen Twinkie wrapped in cheese), as they seem to be the last remaining bastion of customer-service-related air carriers that don’t need your first born as a down payment for a flight to Omaha via three other layovers (half of your deposit will be returned when you reach your destination). I don’t have a lot of experience to share with you on the topic of air travel, as it is a loathsome way to go anywhere, but it seems as though the seats on JetBlue are wider, the planes newer and they lull you into a sense of complacency by offering each seat with its own personal television. One channel even has a map with a little airplane icon to show you where you are in relation to where you were and where you want to be.

4:06am: No baby yet
In the past 12 months, I’ve been on three flights, and two of which reminded me of how cattle feel when they’re trucked to market: round em up, pack em in, cart em off, toss some grains in their laps and cross our fingers that no one falls out. On one, I was cajoled into buying a five-dollar sandwich with the expectation that it would be both nutritious and satisfying. It was neither, but what it turned out to be was a wish sandwich: two pieces of bread and you wish you had some meat. Sourdough even, and that’s the bubble gum of the bread family. The third flight, of course, was JetBlue, and I have nothing but nice things to say about them (they found Bubby, if you remember).

Cast your mind back a few months, perhaps it was a year or so, to when that JetBlue plane’s forward gear was stuck sideways, and most ever expert in the free world predicted a horrifying crash that would make for great dinner-time television? The news covered the spectacle for endless hours, and I’ll bet I saw the actual landing at least 25 times that day—the producers of each agency secretly, perhaps openly, wishing for the most dire of results to boost ratings (and plane crashes are much watched news)—and imagine you’re on that flight, watching live news coverage about an event that you’re directly involved in, wondering, like the anchors, what the outcome will be? If that indeed was your last moments, you get to watch the news teams fall over each other to broadcast it, each making their own predictions.

Another rant that could easily tangent from this point is the effects the bloodlusting news shows have on current society and the needless fear mongering they constantly subject us to, but I won’t. I’ll spare that for another time (make a mental note).

6:43am: No baby yet
To stay on topic (for once), I like Long Beach Airport because it typifies what I believe air travel was like in the 60s and 70s, because I don’t think the facilities have been updated since the Ford administration, aside from the bevy of security measures. That means that there’s now a guy in a blue rent-a-cop uniform watching to make sure people don’t cross the big red line that says “Don’t Cross Here” where there used to be a rack of newspaper vendors. The airport is as low tech I think an airport is allowed to be in this day and age, as it lacks the security I normally associate with a post 9/11 airport. Maybe the FAA doesn’t know any planes still land there and they think the runway is dotted with little houses by now, ploughed under in the interests of manifest destiny.

The architecture is dated: cinder block walls with those see-through block patterns are placed around the top course and there’s open air everywhere. It is relaxing, breathable and non-claustrophobic, but I think that of most of the 70s. The only inside parts of the whole airport is where the ticket agents are and the large empty room where they corral the cattle for transport. You board the plane from the outside, which always seems to have a nostalgic air to it, as if you’re really going on a plane because you can see it and hear it. It’s exciting, unlike filing down the gangplank of a regular jetway, merely going from one big room into a long skinny one without really seeing any transition. The only evidence that you’re really getting on a plane is that there’s the pilot standing by the cockpit with his prod, just waiting for one of us heifers to try and jump the fence.

Despite the ridiculous traffic, the terrible cloud storm I had to traverse and the obstacles of mountainous ineptitude, I arrived at the airport early, about 10 minutes worth, which was compounded by the tardiness of the plane by nearly 20 minutes. So I walked around the tiny terminal and people watched.

8:34am: No baby yet
It’s funny this time of year at an airport. The place was lousy with puppy-eyed girls, high school juniors no doubt, peering longingly up into the eyes of their recently graduated boyfriends as they trounce off to college orientation seminars in far flung regions of the country while they have to spend another year in high school, lost, lonely, awash in depression and heartache. Once gone from the innocence and safety of their relationships, most of those boys will never see their hometown in the same way again and the experience will certainly cast a new light on the opposite sex (college girls like to do what!?! Why I never knew of such things!). I’d be willing to wager that only a handful of the nearly dozen couples I saw swooning over each other (and I half expected to see a porter glance at his watch and announce “all aboard!”) have any idea of what’s in store for their relationships, as most will end in utter tragedy. The girls might look back on that heartfelt passionate moment as she said good bye to her first love as a time in their lives when they believed in lost causes and that long-distance relationships actually do work if you love someone enough just because they didn’t know any better. That’s when you know you’ve grown to adulthood, when you see the younger version of yourself as foolish, idealistic, surreal.

The rest was the typical business people with crisp suits soon to be wrinkled in the tight confines of the cattle cars and regular folks going to and from various parts of the world via Long Beach. There was a notable exception. A mother and father accompanied their son to the boarding gate. They were young, I’d say no older than 40, and both fairly attractive. He was decked out in a suit, but you could tell that he didn’t have to go into the office today (he looked relaxed, for one, and it was after nine), and she looked like they had to pry her away from the dressing room at Nordstrom’s; the kid was nearly driving age, and he was headed off to some kind of summer experience, a camp for scouts or an intern position at a water slide park or maybe he was just going to grandma’s house for a couple of weeks. I don’t know. He kissed his mother and gave his dad a hug (in such an elevated society, why can’t we kiss our fathers in public yet?) and bounded through the gates to the planes. It was right then, I saw something strange that told me the kid hadn’t been away from home by himself, ever. The dad peered around the corner of the gate and gave a “he’ll be fine” nod to the mother, and then the mother had one of those “let's go home” grins, and then she planted one on him. It wasn’t the kind of kiss you do in public either. Being only about 10 feet away from the whole thing, I looked away, I was that embarrassed at the scene. When I glanced back, they were on their way back to the parking lot, hand in hand, walking quickly.

10:34am: No baby yet
Like I said, there’s a certain excitement to be found at the airport: People energized and nervous about leaving for somewhere new or those relieved and thankful that they’re finally home…and there are those that are just happy their son is out of the house for a few days so she doesn’t have to worry that she might have left her bra on the chandelier in the morning.

Sorry that this one is a long one, but as you might be able to surmise, I’ve got nothing but time on my hands right now. I’m sequestered in the waiting room at the hospital, traditionally a depressingly glum place to wait anxious news of a loved one (and/or a new little one) and this place doesn’t disappoint, as I think it was decorated in part by the Hulk and the Grinch. The chairs are green. The floor is green. The walls are green. I’m feeling green, and I’m not 100 percent why I wrestled myself out of bed two hours ago and drove the 30 miles up here when she is only three millimeters dilated. I think got here too early, and while everyone else is still sound asleep, I’m bleary eyed. Why am I always early, and why do I have such anxieties when I’m late? Do I have a fear that I will miss out of something, that the tables at the restaurant will be taken or the party will be fun and I’ll miss it? If I’m supposed to be there at 6pm, I get there at 5:50. I’m that guy that comes to a wedding and helps set out the chairs, makes sure there’s just the right ratio of punch to cheap sparkling cider and I tell the girl wrapping tulle around the pews that she’s doing a bang-up job. Everyone thinks I work there, and I usually can give directions to the bathrooms.

12:24pm: No baby yet
But here I sit. This hospital is quiet. A baby cries off in the distance, and every now and again, a rhythmic beeping will keep perfect time with the clock (and then stop suddenly). Occasionally someone wanders by and looks in at me, but I think I’m the only person in the building that either doesn’t work here or doesn’t need to be here. But I’m well organized: I’ve got a DVD player with a half-dozen movies, prepared for the long haul. I brought my laptop for well-characterized and quite inane ramblings you’re so used to, and my camera to make a memory or two. My shoes are off like I own the place (that’s right) and I’m settled in for the night, awaiting the arrival of my nephew, signifying that I’m officially an uncle.

2:26pm: No baby yet
The nurse said that it would be another hour until Alex’s arrival, and I don’t think I can make it, seeing as though she was probably being optimistic. Everyone’s here. I’m spent, and I’ve still got a 40 minute drive back to my house. If I want to even function through the rest of the week, not to mention tomorrow’s meetings and deadlines, then I’ve got to go home and sleep. It’s been over 30 hours since I last slept, and I feel like someone drove a Mack truck in one eye and out the other. I don’t see the baby coming within the next couple of hours, and I can’t wait any longer.

I’m going home.

3:00pm: Baby came
Doesn’t that just figure.

1 comment:

Grant's Mom said...

Congratulations on being an Uncle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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