With bunny_hugger dropped off at the airport I waited a little while, but got back in the car and started driving home. My original plan, when she was to leave from Trenton about noon, was that I'd go into the office for a half-day and so get ahead of the stuff I could usefully do in there. That obviously went out the window with the Philadelphia diversion; even if I drove straight for the office I'd get there like fifteen minutes before the end of the day. So I drove for home instead, something that took me right by the office anyway, but did let me get a wonderful view of the Trenton Makes The World Takes bridge.
I staggered back into my parents' home, after an hour and a half or so driving from Philadelphia and all the chaos swirling around that. I gave my father the recap of what had gone on, and what had gone wrong, and how bunny_hugger had gotten her flight after all, and I started gathering my stuff from the guest room to pack into suitcases and get over to the hotel. My father promised me it was fine if I stayed until Wednesday, the day they projected to move out; but, I didn't want to. For one, I don't want to burden them more than I have to. For another, being around the ratcheting stress of their final weeks in their home was part of what was beating me down. (Also, a hotel near the office meant I could expect to sleep in an hour later, rather than commuting, and that meant I could be less beaten down by the end of the work week or be up an extra hour talking with bunny_hugger online.) He understood all this, and suggested that I really ought to call the hotel and make sure they still had my reservation.
You know those jokes that chill you with fear? This was one of them. But the hotel had my reservation, and I told them great, I should be there in a bit over an hour, and they said they'd be glad to see me. So all was well.
Then bunny_hugger phoned.
The rebooked flight had been cancelled. Who knows. Maybe they figured too many people were getting where they needed to go and they had to rebalance things. She went through yet another round of chaos at the airport, but this time, since Philadelphia isn't such a rinky-dink airport, and since US Airways was apparently not breaking in new trainees on a catastrophe day, she was able to get a new booking. Except ...
She had planned to get from Detroit's airport back to Lansing by taking the Michigan Flyer, a pretty comfortable bus, complete with Wi-Fi and power cords and complimentary bottled water and all that, and had got a reservation for that. But her rebooked flight would get in too late to catch even the final bus, even if it arrived on time, and if it were a little late all she could possibly do was wait at Detroit airport until 5 am or so and the start of the new day. You know what sleeping overnight at an airport is like. And this would be after a long day in which the only thing she'd gotten to eat was a hummus-and-chips pack from Wawa; everything in the world would be closed by the time she got to Detroit.
But she'd have an option. We had driven to Detroit in my car and left it in long-term parking. She had a spare set of keys. She hates driving my car, not liking the feel of the brakes, and hates driving in snow, which Michigan had in fresh amounts because that's the way this winter has gone, and she especially hates driving my car in snow. But given the alternatives, she'd rather drive my car in the snow. Which was great except that the ticket to get the car out of long-term parking was tucked in my messenger bag, with me, in central New Jersey.
If I left right away, and drove to Philadelphia as fast as possible, and nothing went wrong, I might be able to catch bunny_hugger and hand her the ticket and let her race back to catch her flight. I had to try. I stuffed everything I could into the car, and hugged my father and wished him well, and was sorry that my mother wasn't home yet but what could I do, and I left my parents' house and their development for what I trusted was the last time, without taking a goodbye photograph or reflecting on the end of this era, and started racing west and then south again, speeding and growing more anxious about that every mile.
My camera, of course, I left somewhere on the bed.
bunny_hugger called to share her anxieties about this, and my meager reports of how far I'd gotten, and the news about how much closer the departure time was. And she started to worry about her luggage, which had been originally checked with a tag sending it to Detroit on a new-cancelled flight. She'd gotten rebooked not by an agent in the Philadelphia airport but by someone on a special secret line --- a US Airways guy went around handing out cards to the hotline dealing with that airport crisis --- and she had a perfectly reasonable fear that her bag was in the Land of Lost Luggage, possibly because they might have expected her to re-claim it and re-check it and if they had announced that she'd missed it. I could do nothing but take my best guesses about how airlines work and say that, well, if they lose it, they'll find it in a couple days, and is there anything she absolutely must have in the next couple days? No, not that she couldn't let slip to Wednesday or Friday even.
Still, it's a long way to the Philadelphia airport, and the time was tight, and the time available for me to park and rush the ticket in was lost, and we figured on me driving up to the departing passenger drop-off spot and try to arrange a meeting point where we could get one another on the very first try because if I had to loop around the airport again she would certainly miss her flight. But she was worried, and I was worried, and time was pressing, and the distance wasn't dwindling nearly enough, and I was speeding and narrating where I was and trying to figure where bunny_hugger could be so we could catch each other on that first try and ...
She didn't see me driving in. I saw her at the edge of the terminal. I started flashing my lights and pulling over to the side. She saw me. I rolled the window down and fumbled handing her the ticket and we yelled our love at one another and she fled back indoors.
I went to short-term parking. After all this I wasn't going to leave until her plane was safely in the air. Possibly not until it had landed. Meanwhile, I would learn, she discovered that they had closed security at terminal B, where she was and where her flight was taking off from, so she had to run to terminal C, go through security there, and run back to terminal B. Mercifully, her flight had been delayed ten minutes, and she just made it.
I sat in the airport, watching the monitor boards, and feeling grateful that there was that ten-minute delay. I hoped it might roll over to a fifteen-minute delay for a tiny bit more margin, or even twenty minutes, but not so much that they would cancel the flight. But they didn't: it held at ten minutes, and I watched the flight status switch over to Departed, and I waited a good fifteen minutes after that before flopping over, deflated, and finally starting to shed the boulders of anxiety that had been crushing me all day.
I drove again up I-95, this time to the hotel, though I again went past (but not on) the Trenton Makes The World Takes bridge, which lead me to discover that my satellite navigator wasn't really able to find the hotel right away. (The hotel was on a numbered route and the satellite navigator does not handle those well, probably because of ambiguities about is it Route or Rte or Rt or US Route or USR or whatnot to start with, and the programmers were idiots.) But I found the place, and checked in, and unpacked stuff, and looked for news from bunny_hugger that she had landed or was on the road again or had got my car or anything. There was no news by the time I had to go to bed.
She had landed safely, and her luggage was there without trouble, and she got my car out of hock easily. The roads were horrible but she was able to follow the lane carved out of the snow by other traffic, and the only fault of it was this was all very slow and she got back in horribly late. But the house was well, our fish were well, and she could go to bed.
Trivia: The Reuters day-duty log for the 15-16 February 1941 began, ``There was no big foreign news''. Source: The Power Of News: The History of Reuters, Donald Read.
Currently Reading: Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery, Frank Spencer.
PS: Reading the Comics, February 1, 2014, a fresh roundup of mathematics-themed comics.