“Wherever you’re going, we can get you there and there and there!” exulted the United Airlines on-hold record-a-voice. Well, unfortunately, no, not on this midsummer Saturday. One packed flight from Seattle to Washington D.C. cancelled; 200-plus people, including me, suddenly stuck in airport purgatory.
For half an hour, I thought a few of us were lucky: we were rebooked on a US Air flight, via Phoenix, arriving in D.C. a mere five hours after we were originally supposed to. I sprinted from one end of Sea-Tac to the other, fingers crossed. But the US Air flight was delayed four hours. The gate clerk ordered all of us United castoffs to go back and start over.
Back we went, now with no chance at all of getting a reasonable re-booking. Long story not so short—long time on hold on my cellphone; long time in line—I left SeaTac, now scheduled to leave the next afternoon.
And so I had a strange, sort of secret day. No plans. No responsibilities. No one, besides my immediate family and my disappointed friend in D.C., knew I was in Seattle.
I could have pulled weeds or caught up on some work. Or caught up on sleep, after a night spent tossing and worrying about waking up in time for the flight that never happened.
Instead, I left a note and got on my bike. On a whim, I rode straight to a Columbia City nail shop, where the staff is friendly, the massage chairs are the tacky best and offbeat nail colors are the rule.
From the nail shop, my bike and I carried on. I felt like I was 15 again, pedaling aimlessly along the lake on a summer Saturday, the breeze tickling my Friendly Skies-turquoise-blue toes.
I got just warm enough biking to go swimming. Now I felt more five than 15, splashing into the cold water, emerging baptized. Now time truly felt like it did at five, especially in summer: slow, bedazzled, each minute like a jewel on a bracelet. I basked. I read. I ate a snack. Time, this unexpected chunk of slow, summery time, wrapped around me like a blanket.
I’m so sorry I didn’t get to be in D.C. that night with one of my oldest and best friends. But I hope she got some secret time too; some time outside time. Lord knows she needs it: she and her husband manage and co-own two restaurants, the second of which just opened. She rarely gets any time alone at all.
After dinner, I sat down at my desk and opened the window wide and watched my son and husband throw a Frisbee in the park across the street. A few younger boys joined in.
There’s something about the leisurely pace of a Frisbee in the twilight. You think for a moment it might stop altogether, right there in mid-air. But of course it doesn’t. It curves, slow but not too slow, high but not too high, and gets to where it needs to go. Then everyone says Thanks and Good night and See you next time.
See you next time we step outside time for a few minutes and sail this disk through the sky.
Our film, Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story is now available on Hulu, Amazon and other digital sites.
Radio lovers: you can hear the Restless Nest commentaries every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., Thursdays at 4:54 p.m. and Fridays at 4:55 p.m. on KBCS, streaming online at kbcs.fm and on the air at 91.3 in the Seattle area. Podcasts available.
Here’s nest artist Kim Groff-Harrington’s website.