The two Delta Airlines flights from Greensboro to New York City were sold-out when I was trying to return to Manhattan yesterday, which doesn't equal "a crowded flight" when you're travelling stand-by on your boyfriend's mom's buddy pass; it's equals "no flight for you."
The Delta ticket agent in Greensboro gave me the option to try my luck out of Atlanta or Cincinnati or to wait for the only other flight to La Guardia four hours later and hope that it didn't check in full.
Since Terrence's parents live in Atlanta, I caught a flight with him to Hartsfield International. If I didn't make one of the dozen or so flights to La Guardia from there, I could crash at their house and try to make a flight in the morning. The extremely nice ticket agent went out of her way to check out the subsequent flights from Atlanta for me, and then went one step further by putting Terrence and I together in the exit row so he could stretch his 6'9" frame during our 2 p.m. flight. So there we were some 30,000 feet above the Earth when I had no intention of going to Atlanta, and we were supposed to be heading our separate ways. Terrence was sleeping on my shoulder; I was reading a few more chapters of "The Namesake."
We were pretty sure I wasn't going to catch the next few flights out of Atlanta so we left the airport and swung by his parents house so I could say hi and wish his sister a happy birthday. We shared the details of Corey and Lauren's beautiful wedding ceremony and other fun stories from the week over his dad's grilled masterpiece, and I found myself feeling sad to leave Georgia - or him. On the way back to the airport, Terrence and I mulled over how much longer the afternoons feel in the South. They seemed to slowly saunter by in Greensboro - even a late afternoon Atlanta - when I often can't find enough hours in a day in New York.
I finally caught the last flight of the night and landed at La Guardia just after 11:30 p.m. But it wasn't the return to New York that was the most dramatic; it had been my arrival in Greensboro several days earlier that caused a very minor shock to my senses.
After disembarking from the plane, I stopped through the women's restroom before going to wait for Terrence at baggage claim; his flight was scheduled to land about 45 minutes after mine. As I was entering a stall, a random woman was striking up a conversation with a middle-aged mother, who was pulling a stroller into the larger stall for persons with disabilities.
"How old is she?" she asked motioning to the mother's baby sleeping in the stroller.
"Nine months next Friday. She's on her second trip to see her grandma," she replied over the wall and then cooed, "Yes, she is. Aren't you? Yes, you are."
I - hovering in a squat over the toilet seat - assume that the baby must be waking up. And I realize that I am slightly amazed at how the conversation between these two women continues through the stall door. One is washing her hands and freshening herself up in the mirror; the other is probably hovering in her stall like me and cooing to her baby between sentences directed to the stranger outside.
New Yorkers certainly strike up casual conversations, but there was something distinctly Southern, distinctly welcoming about their random, soon-to-be-forgotten chat. It was the Southern hospitality that I have begun to crave less and less as I learn to appreciate the low walls that New Yorkers put up. It can be comforting to know that these walls are generally respected by the vast majority, but that they can be easily torn down in true times of need (September 11th, Wesley Autry, and this random act of kindness).
As I lugged my suitcase onto the M-60 bus to Manhattan from La Guardia Airport last night, and the bus driver made no attempt to mask the fact that she was having a bad day, I couldn't help but smile to myself. It was good to be home.
"You know you're a New Yorker when ...your boyfriend has broken up with you, you're on the subway during rush hour crying your eyes out, the car is packed and you are comforted that New Yorkers realize that your problems are none of their business."
- From dustingmybrain.com