Tuesday would be my final day with bunny_hugger this trip. We started comfortably late again, enjoying sleeping in as much as two basically nocturnal people who don't find it a stretch to be up till dawn will, and started out feeding the cats on some new plates which we'd picked up on a little yet necessary second trip to Target on Monday afternoon. Over the weekend we hadn't used enough plates to make even a modest dishwasher load, but we had maanged to use up all the appetizer plates which we use for the cats' wet food and come Tuesday we were facing the prospects of doing a wastefully empty dishwasher load, washing some plates by hand, or seeing open rebellion from the feline community. Washing by hand would probably have been easiest but we had to go to Target anyway and a couple fresh plates wouldn't hurt future cat relations.
We got to breakfast, bypassing the macaroni and cheese, and the melon slices, for some more salt water taffy and for a pair of bagels. I toasted mine, but she had hers raw, and we were eating when my parents arrived, back from their Rhode Island weekend. Apparently they decided to set out possibly as late as 9 am considering the length of the drive. They were glad to see bunny_hugger again, and we talked a bit establishing that everyone involved had good weekends and very much enjoyed their times. (My parents were taken sailing.) They also noted how bunny_hugger had slimmed since they last saw her around New Year's. My mother and bunny_hugger talked a little shop, as both are teaching this year (my mother as adjunct) and they'd both had first tastes of their classes. My father opened his computer to get his virus database updated and grimace at his iPod Touch.
While my parents flittered about taking care of the unpacking and (for my mother) preparing for her classes Wednesday bunny_hugger drew a sweet couple of sketches, a feat I wasn't able to return in kind. Somewhere along the lines we got her checked in to her approachingly near flight and printed out her boarding pass, with the knowledge that soon there'd be no time to do anything but drive up to terminal A at Newark to see her off. We might try holding it back but the time wound its way forward anyway. With a flight for just after 8 pm, and the knowledge we should be there earlier than 7 pm, setting out not long after 5 seemed to provide the cushions of time that felt minimally comfortable.
What we overlooked in this was time to get something to eat other than the bagel apiece; possibly had my parents not arrived we'd have thought of that and gotten something. We had been diner-light on this visit. Well, there was taffy and excitement to keep us filled. There were also some peach-flavored ``Icebreakers'', candy mints which bunny_hugger had picked up the previous day and which came in a carton with a curious pair of openings --- one for if you want to ``share'', and one if you wanted them all for ``yourself''. She had opened the ``share'' one, and we couldn't figure how to get ``yourself'' open after that. What sort of weird ethics thing was supposed to come from chalky peach-flavored mints we couldn't figure.
The drive up took us along the same route that the bus into Manhattan takes, more or less, and while there were some things to point out as the path goes past many important things in my earlier life --- my parents having strangely moved, more or less, a couple miles south while staying near the same highway every decade or so, so my home biography can be read in stratigraphic layers --- we'd been along the path several times already and besides the carousel music CD was coming around to ``Humoresque'' again. One of the little things to point out this time was the animated neon sign outside the Anheuser-Busch factory, which has the eagle flap a while and which was a highlight of driving along Route 9 back when we were kids and frankly that part of Route 9 could use the highlights. And she'd asked a good question I didn't have an answer for, namely, has Newark got any civic nickname; I'd never heard of one. (She would find that it's been known as ``The Brick City'', which is one of those things I'd never have guessed but that makes sense in retrospect given northern New Jersey brick production. If I remember the strata of New Jersey correctly I think I know a few other towns with important brick histories in the same geologic patch.)
As you may expect, therefore, when we arrived at Terminal A and found the Continental gates we checked the schedule boards and found the flight had been moved to Terminal C. So we had another experience with the AirTrain.
We found the new gate and the appropriate security station and with the better part of an hour before she'd have to go we sat down to spend the time with our better parts. Unfortunately Terminal C has got fewer and less comfortable seats than Terminal A has, but we weren't going to be all that concerned with the seats anyway as long as we had them next to each other. We concluded that there probably weren't seats on the upper level because there were people standing by the railing there, which we agreed was not valid deductive logic but seems hard to argue with anyway. It's not as comfortable holding each other in the rigid-back seats of the baggage carousel level of Terminal C as it might be back home, but the last hour before separation probably can't be made comfortable. I hope not.
When it did come time to part, I walked bunny_hugger up to the security gate, which had a pleasantly short line. There was no line at all, in fact. This was because it was closed. The airport-connected person asked what gate we wanted (I believe it was C-111, in case that should be important) and guided us off to the left, although I had to verify that because I wasn't sure she had heard the gate number correctly. The person checking boarding passes at the actually open security gate looked at bunny_hugger's boarding pass and told us to go to Terminal A, so we had to promise we knew we were at the right terminal. Then the person checking boarding passes wanted to know where mine was, which would be in my heart but not on my person, and she explained that I couldn't go past this point without one. Kind of knew that already, but it's still a shame.
We did watch each other, as long as possible, as she went through the line and through screening, until finally bunny_hugger had to walk through the parts of the airport obscured to the mere public like me. I went downstairs to wait for news the flight had actually successfully taken off (I can't get myself not to do that), in the seat that had been with her so recently. About the time that, according to the schedule, the gate attendants should be getting really testy about passengers not being seated yet, the public address system announced that her flight had a gate change to C-111. Glad they straightened that out.
When I was finally convinced that she'd gotten safely off the ground I returned to Terminal A, and went to a Dunkin Donuts booth to buy a couple creme-filled doughnuts to eat while driving home, with ``Humoresque'' and other carousel tunes replaced by my audio book.
Trivia: The passenger terminal at the Ford Airport in Dearborn, Michigan --- which was possibly the first real passenger terminal in the United States --- was 52 feet square. Source: Naked Airport, Alastair Gordon.
Currently Reading: Lest Darkness Fall, L Sprague de Camp.