When we last left off, I was enjoying AC and wine and Ranch dressing at a hotel bar in Phoenix after my flight to Rio had been canceled. I then jumped into my stars and stripes bikini and commanded the hot tub and then the pool, doing that thing you do when you’re a little kid and you put your feet and calves out of the water and swish your hair back and forth like a mermaid, and I counted planes and thought about how my grandma Susi always wore floral swimsuits with little skirts on them, and would swim breaststroke laps in the pool and focus on not getting her dyed hair wet, and we’d eat Ritz crackers and drink Diet Cokes. I miss her at the oddest times.
I returned to my room to eat some Rainbow Chip frosting, only to discover it had exploded all over my clothes in my suitcase. After eating as much of it as I could, I had to admit defeat. I stuffed the crusty clothes and classroom supplies back into the bag, not wanting to wash them for fear of mold.
The next day I ate Mexican food and walked laps at PHX until boarding the plane. Then I fell asleep, and woke up to realize we were still sitting on the tarmac. Dust storm and then jet winds. The minutes ticked by, the pilots apologized, I struggled with the mental math of time zones and prayed.
We landed in Houston at 9:30. My plane to Rio left at 9:20. Adorable.
Once again, I went to customer service, who booked me on the next flight, which wasn’t until 9:20pm the next night. Then I was told that since it was a weather delay, they could only offer me a travel discount and not an actual stay at a hotel. Which is fine, because I’m a teacher and make a ton of money.
I got a number to call for a Travel Alliance center that directed people in my situation. No food was open in the airport by this time, so I emotionally murdered another bag of Cheetos and was placed on hold, wishing I will still with my dog. I was offered a room and pressured into paying for it right away, since there were many delays and things were selling out. I did, then called the hotel to ask for a shuttle and was informed that, oh yeah, btdubs, this is a smoking room. And our last one. No, there is no restaurant on the premise. Nothing nearby. Shuttle might be there in half an hour.
But this time it was 11:30pm and I had had it. I hadn’t eaten in 11 hours, cigarette smoke makes me ill, and I needed something a little stronger than Texas tap water to get me through the next 20 hours. I have credit card travel points and I’m an adult.
So I decided to call around, and sure enough, found a hotel right away with a bar and restaurant, with a shuttle every 15 minutes to the airport, and offering me a late check out at 2pm the next day since my flight wasn’t until 9:30pm. “COME GET ME” I begged. Sharon at the desk gave me a hug and called me “sugar” and kept saying “I got you, don’t I got you?” whenever I got a little shake in my voice.
I settled into my room and then wandered to the bright lights across the street at Hot Biscuit, which is about the dodgiest place I have ever had biscuits and house wine. Finally sated with the appropriate ratio of gravy:wine, I headed back to my room, turned down the AC and took the longest, hottest shower I’ve taken in over a year. Then I watched Parks and Rec and wedding videos of strangers on Vevo, which I do if I’m feeling particularly happy or particularly sad (one time I actually stumbled across one of a guy I’d loved from afar for a long time. Insert wine.), and ate the final bag of my Cheetos.
The next day I wanted to lay out by the pool, but then remembered I had packed my swimsuit into my checked luggage after Phoenix, as I had foolishly thought the universe would not be so cruel as to give me two day long layovers on the face of the sun. So I trekked back to Hot Biscuit, where I had pancakes and sausages and syrup and biscuits, which we don’t have in Brazil.
I got to the airport more than five hours early, and decided I would walk laps in the underground terminal train area. This was actually pretty fun. I took my flannel off, put my earbuds in, and got down to business. I waved at the ubiquitous child at the back of each train that went by, and sang country songs out loud and worked on my Snapchat game. I imagined that one of the passerby might write a Craigslist “missed connection” about me, which is one of my big dreams. It would probably read something like this:
“To the woman child in braids, sweating and singing, with a very strong snapping fingers game, walking laps in the terminal – (insert something cute here.) Coffee?”
At a friend’s recommendation, I went to Cat Cora’s and sat to wine and blog, only to discover my laptop would not turn on. Completely dead. Kaput. I flirted with a baby at the next table and focused on not crying.
Plane ride was fine. They even gave me ice cream! Got to my apartment and was dead to the world for about five hours, during which time our kitchen flooded a few inches and began creeping into the hallway. The neighbors apparently have water coming into their apartment, so our water was turned off. I took a post-travel bathroom visit shortly after this, thinking gravity would do the trick, but no. It did not. What is it about approaching your “home toilet” that makes your bowels rush? It’s just a comfort zone or something. But not when it can’t flush down.
And you know all you want after you get home from four days of living in the same pants and two shirts? A long shower and to brush your teeth. And then coffee. You know what I couldn’t do? Exactly that. It’s also hard to wash out the frosting in your clothes, or the shampoo in your clothes that you discover has exploded all over the opposite end of the bag, when one has no water. Alas.
We made it through the night – it helped that my roomies had champagne and guacamole to celebrate my arrival, as we tramped through the kitchen in rainboots. And it was wonderful to be reunited with my colleagues today at work and answer emails and have meetings and such.
After work, Leana and I went on a long walk and even did some weights, which was fun and part of my “shed the America” plan. Then I zipped over to the grocery store to buy anything I could eat without having to use water (harder than one might think). The checker calculated all my goodies, I put in my grocery debit card, and was promptly rejected for the wrong password about eight times. I tried different codes. I started to sweat. I lost all control of Portuguese. The guy behind me, tall, dark and handsome, spoke some English and asked if there was a website or a phone number I could call for password help. I started crying, sweating more, making helpless gestures. They started putting my food away, I cried harder, embarrassed as people started leaving my line. I had only walked down with my keys and card, fresh from workout, so there was nothing I could do, no other way to pay. I considered eating the packets of Taco mix I had at home.
Then I asked to try one last time, and literally said “JesusJesusJesusJesusJesus” over the machine. And it worked. I had to walk away for a minute, cry a little harder. The guy that had helped looked so happy for me I could have kissed him. Actually I should have kissed him. I’m way overdue for a kiss. DANGIT RAQUEL! Says the girl who just invoked the name of Christ to buy groceries. I am a complicated person.
I walked home, took a “shower” with a 2L water bottle, ate a salad with a WHOLE AVOCADO, because HEALTHY FATS, and debated Cecil the Lion and Planned Parenthood with roommate before sitting here to write this for anyone who will read it.
It’s been a bit of a Job weekend for me (you must watch the video). But I’m pretty proud of myself for hanging in there, and that not crying until McSteamy tried to help me at the grocery store. My neighbors let me wash the frosting and shampoo out of my clothes. I really like my new pair of Birkenstocks. The beach was gorgeous today. I feel like the enemy wants to get me down with all this shade he’s throwing but like, come at me, bro.
It’s gonna be a good year, right?! Right.
I’ma punch these bad vibes in the face. From bed. I’m so jetlagged.