Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Texan in Italy - 17 Curious days

Over the next several days I will be telling you about my recent challenging, weird and wonderful 17 days in Italy. However, in the peculiar world of blogging that means the first story is on the bottom! So, if you want to begin at the first, go to the bottom. This is Part 3 of Day One.

Day One Continued - September 3, 2007
Continental Flight 11 is flying a route that parallels the east coast of the United States. The aircraft is making its way directly over Bangor, Maine before turning east to cross the Atlantic. BEG and I are both freezing. Covered in an airline blanket, BEG is sleeping. I am not. The seat headrest is just a slight bit too far back for my head to rest comfortably. I tried resting my head to the side but my neck begins to ache. I am shivering under my blue Continental blanket. My ass aches from a too-hard seat, not to mention having sat on the previous flight for 7 hours. I can see a man in the center row with his head hanging down awkwardly, his chin is resting virtually on his chest. However his chin isn’t actually touching his chest which must place a horrid stress on the man’s neck. His head bobs to and fro as the planes rocks in turbulent air. I once worked a crime scene where a man sat dead in a leather recliner in exactly the same position. His head didn't bob, but then again perhaps it might have in an airliner, sans the rigor mortis period. Overhead a monitor shows the course, altitude, headwind and other details about the flight. It’s a sort of ‘follow along while we fly’ techno-thing, a gizmo that would make old Mitch Miller proud. I am growing very tired, the day becoming taxing while we have traveled and battled with airline schedules and airline seating. I woke at 5am this morning. Right now, somewhere over Bangor or thereabouts we are about one third of the way to Amsterdam. It’s 11:30 pm on my biologic clock.

When we reach Amsterdam it will magically become 11:40 am. The warping of time is messing with my brain as I try to work out the details of getting to Riccione and how much time I will have to rest before competing on the track. I’m told Einstein often felt frustrated in his work with the physics of time. I grant him my total respect and admiration since I have become clumsily confused to the point of mild retardation with a seven hour time difference. Where is Albert when I need him most? Though it will be 11:40 am in Amsterdam it will be 5:40 am on my biologic clock. Because of my inability to sleep on the plane I will have been awake over 24 hours when the flight is complete.

It turns out Eddie Murphy was doing a promo for Shrek, one of the in-flight movies. I’m watching with my cherished Sony earphones plugged into my ears, laughing like I always do at ‘Donkey’ and his lines. Even when Eddie is a donkey he makes me laugh. An hour and a half later, somewhere near Iceland according to the ‘follow along’ monitor, I make my way to the lavatories in the center of the plane. Oh My God, what are people doing in there? The smell around the lavatory area is atrocious. When I come out I give the passengers seated adjacent to the small smelly rooms my best look of “I am so sorry you have to sit here.” They just gaze sleepily back at me seeming to be anesthetized. I presume their noses have gone on strike and shut down their work in protest.

Time has passed in the ice cold cabin and London shows to be underneath our wings now. BEG has blinked her eyes open a couple of times, long enough to complain about the temperature and scrunch herself into a tinier ball. I’ve passed the sleepy and tired stage into some other odd world of observation and numbness. The man that resembles the murder victim is still comatose and I worry about his neck. I imagine him spending the rest of his life stuck in this unimaginable pose, attending business meetings with his chin near to his chest, his vertebra forever welded into the unfortunate pose. I imagine him looking at great works of art by lying down on the floor in front of the painting. Rationality and purposeful thinking are evasive in my fatigue.

Mercifully the first 24 hours of our trip ends with a normal descent and landing in Amsterdam. We are welcomed in Dutch and English, though I don’t understand a word of the Dutch. It is a West German derivative and it sounds very peculiar and harsh as if it would be a monumental task to speak correctly. I cross learning Dutch off my list.

I am wrapping up my headphones now and preparing to deplane into Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. BEG stirs and begins folding her blanket. I’m anxious about what will happen next and I am sleepy and tired. Thoughts of our luggage will not exit my brain and I really do fear the worst. I’m relieved I have my competition clothes and spikes in my carry-on backpack. I applaud myself for outwitting the system on that detail. I keep thinking, although the thinking is accomplished through a sleepy jet lag stupor, that its day two now, and maybe things will begin to brighten up. Maybe we can go standby on the 2:30 flight to Bologna. That will mean only 3 hours in Amsterdam. I cross my fingers, say a prayer, and head up the jetway to the Netherlands. I’m headed into day 2!


Enemy of the Republic said...

Oh, am I jealous of you or what? Have a good one!

Lynilu said...

Geez-Looeeze! We can be friends, Seven, but I'm never, ever going to travel by air with you!!

The worst thing is being in a time crunch and being rushed to make a decision without a few moments for formulating the questions one should ask before jumping in head first. Next time, plan to arrive in Italy 2 days before the event!

Seven said...

Not much yet to be jealous about...just a lot of heartache at this point.

Silver Lovely,
Very pleased to know I'm not removed from your friends list. As far as traveling with me....hmmm, imagine all you could miss! OK, maybe you have a good idea this time after all.
As far as your advice; well hindsight is a beautiful tool...:-)

Seven said...

Oh, and of course the value of hindsight is only of value in the immediate time frame if you are a legitimate psychic.

kathi said...

You're headed into day 2, and we're on the edge of our seats. I liked the idea about you flying wherever you need to go a couple of days earlier than you need to be there. For most of us, that would simply be a mini vacation, for you it would be common sense. :) Hugs!