"You have to eat, kitty."
I've heard that admonition in many different voices. On this night it was the combined voice of Brian-and-Suzan, who were playing the Unified Marital Voice Of Reason.
I don't eat well before I fly. All the aerodynamics lessons in the world aren't likely to change that; my discomfort with flying has nothing to do with the concept of flying and everything to do with the issue of turning over control of my life over to a pilot whose name I don't even know.
End result: Amy a nervous wreck, picking at her food, and quoting a phrase that many friends have heard ad infinitum: "I don't like flying, but I like where flying gets me."
We ate at Arby's after attending the premiere of a Mass celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s life - a Mass in which Joyce and Aaron sang - and I'd ordered my usual 'Market Fresh" sandwich. Hold the onions and with a side of Diet Coke, please.
I managed half of it. It is possible to eat just to make your friends happy. I packed up the rest, planning on stowing the rest in Brian and Suzan's fridge that night, in order to have something to eat before my early-morning flight the next day.
On the way out, we shivered in the unseasonal chill; Brian and Suzan and jeff all teased me about how this low temperature would be higher than the high temperature of where I was going to be the next day - Colorado.
Long flights lead to a certain sense of dissociation: you walk into a terminal in one city, which leads you to a cramped little room where you sit for several hours, and when you emerge, you're somewhere else entirely. You don't really feel like you've flown cross-country; part of you wonders why you can't just walk into the room you were in before.
Jeff helped me carry my bags into the Atlanta airport, balancing suitcase with book and coat and drink and sandwich. I was out of hands and grateful for the extras until I could get my bag and extra box checked in.
Once done, I headed for Security and, eventually, the train that would take me to my concourse. The plan was simple. I would head to my concourse with lots of time to spare, find my gate, eat my sandwich, and have lots of time to sit quietly and read before making the magic changing of rooms.
Except that the concourse-changing train was crowded, and as I made the right turn out of the train to get to the escalator, someone slammed into me so hard that my bag, my book, and most of my perfectly-laid plans went flying out of my hands.
I grabbed for everything I could, but my carefully-planned sandwich lay in tatters - the bread and mayonnaise splattered on my shoe, the lettuce and meat lying in front of me, and a very lost and forlorn tomato slice slipping away on a riser on the escalator.
"The joys of a flying hypoglycemic," I muttered.
A woman stopped to help me gather my things and get me started again. She smiled and shrugged at my misfortune. "It happens," she said. She was slim, a pretty blur of dark hair, trenchcoat, and cat-eye glasses. I situated my book and my drink under my arm, put my bag to my right, and headed up the escalator to head toward my gate.
At the top of the escalator, I read the sign and headed left toward my gate.
"Miss?" It took a moment for me to realize that I was the person being hailed. I turned around and there she was again, smiling shyly at me.
"My flight was late, and I missed my original connection." Her voice held the slightest tinge of an accent. I found myself thinking, Italian? though I knew not why. "My airline gave me this voucher for breakfast. It is not much, but I do not have time to cash it in before I pick up my new flight."
She smiled and pointed at the wadded-up piece of paper that had once held a sandwich and said, "I believe you need this more than I do."
She pressed a piece of paper into my hand, turned, and darted off in a flare of trenchcoat before I could even thank her properly.
It was a voucher for breakfast, good for any restaurant in the airport. At the top: "Rappaport/Atlanta."
I walked into Atlanta Bread Company, which was the closest restaurant, and when I was asked to sign the voucher, I scrawled an illegible first name (since I did not know what her first name was) and followed it with a barely-legible version of "Rappaport."
I ate my unexpected sandwich at the gate, and as I did, I wished her an uneventful flight, wherever her destination, grateful for the unexpected kindness of strangers.