When the alarm goes off at 4AM, I don’t dilly-dally, even though I didn’t get to bed until the wee hours and these few hours are not really enough to sustain me. They will have to, because I have somewhere to be.
I finished the packing last night, but that doesn’t stop me from rechecking the list as I take care of the final items. Which mostly have to do with turning off the cooling for the week and securing the place. And then I take my carry on and my backpack, lock up, and creep to the car.
It’s dark, peaceful. The crickets are singing loudly enough to mask the traffic sounds (even before 5AM there are traffic sounds). I need to get over to my friends’ house; he works near the airport and is giving me my ride. The light out of the complex refuses to change in response to my presence, and finally I make the right-on-red and then pull a U to get myself in the right direction. I glance back before the light disappears behind me; it still hasn’t changed.
I pull up to my friends’ house with time to spare. He’ll be the only one up, so I don’t ring the bell. Instead I pull up on the front stoop to wait. There’s no movement inside that I can tell. I hope he hasn’t forgotten that I was coming. I hope he didn’t leave for work already.
In a few minutes, the garage door opens. I carry my things to the driveway, just as he walks out to see if I’m there. I startle him in the process.
In a few minutes we are on our way. He drops me at the corner at Terminal A, which is exactly where I need to be. I wave my goodbyes and head to my gate. The flight to Chicago’s Midway is smooth. My parents have already flown in from Philadelphia; we’re on the same connecting flight west. They are at the gate; I’ve landed at the next Concourse over, so I make my way there. There’s time for a much-needed coffee before we line up. Then we’re on the plane, then we’re in the air, then we’re landing.
My BIL is waiting for us in the terminal in Denver. We stop for lunch on the way to Ft. Collins. Hugs all around with the little girls. We’re tired from the long day, and after a spicy taco dinner over at Qdoba, those of us on East Coast time are all ready for bed.