Ok, so let’s start off with a review about why I went to California.

In December of last year, I saw a post on the Study of Myth forum about a symposium on the study of myth to be held in Santa Barbara, California. I drooled, I dreamed, I envisioned, but it seemed pretty clear that this might not be an attainable ideal. The idea slumbered, never quite gone in the back of my head for the better half of a year.

June rolled around and I finally made up my mind to take my summer pay and the pay from Running Start and go to the symposium. At the time, Rob was thinking about going with me, but that fell by the wayside. I hemmed and hawwed and procrastinated for the better part of two months, and finally, with much fussing, and borrowing of money, I bought tickets, arranged for plane, bus, and car, found a place to stay through Air B&B (people renting rooms out of their homes or their whole houses), and paid for the symposium.

I was a wreck for two weeks leading up to the symposium. I was going to fly alone to California, catch a bus, get a car, and drive myself around parts unknown. Alone. Go to a conference where I knew no one. Alone. Stay at someone’s house 30 miles from the conference. ALONE. Holy crap! When was the last time I did anything ALONE?

But I did. Rob drove me to the airport at the eye-burning hour of 5:00 in the morning, dropped me off at the JetBlue terminal, and drove away, leaving me and my new pink (?!?!) suitcase carry-on to find our way through the terminal. I had printed my boarding ticket to go to California that morning, but had no idea where to go. I asked the first security officer I could find.

Me: “Excuse me? Could you help someone who is airport disadvantaged?”

Security guy (not batting an eye, but slightly amused): “Sure.”

Me: “I have a boarding pass, but I have no idea where to go.”

Security guy: (pointing at a woman standing by two stanchions) “She can tell you where you need to go.”

The nice woman pointed me to the gate that I had to go to and told me that security was through there too. I followed her directions, and soon found myself in a long line of people to be scanned. All of the liquids had to be in a separate baggie and put in a tray to be x-rayed. My shoes had to come off (flipflops bomber anyone?), and everything else sent through the x-ray machine. I had to go through the x-ray too, and of course, my copper bracelets set it off, and I had to take them off and go back through again. The security guard there cheerfully teased me for being a troublemaker (he could tell I was nervous), and then I was through.

I found the bathroom, ate a banana since I thought I was going to throw up, drank some chai tea, and then went to go sit for a grueling hour of waiting. My stomach was a mess. I was a mess. I had to pee again. The plane, which was right outside the window, had an engine that kept spinning in the wind. The tail fin moved. When we were finally ready to board, I was even more nervous, and when I finally got to my seat, I was seriously debating how quickly I could get to the bathroom behind me. I also checked behind the seat in front of me, and found the airsickness bag, just in case.

The nice young man who came to sit down next to me was a great comfort. I never caught his name, but he was a recent Harvard graduate returning home to find something to do for the next year before going into the Marines. We chatted and he reassured me that flying was no problem. I told him that I was prone to motion sickness but that I thought that I would be ok. This seemed to reassure him somewhat, and we talked about non-consequential things. as the plane began to get ready for take off. I am sure he was just trying to take my mind off the impending departure.

The captain came on briefly.

“We apologize for the delay, but a light had come on and we had to address it. The problem is fixed and everything is fine. We are just getting the paperwork done now, and there was no problem. We should be taking off shortly, so thank you for your patience.”

Me: (to Harvard) “Do you think that they could have NOT told us that bit? Now I am feeling less secure.”

Harvard: “They just wanted to reassure us.”

Me: “True, and if they didn’t tell us, they could be accused of hiding things. Screwy isn’t it?”

He nodded, though I am pretty sure he just wanted me to stop talking, and we soon taxied down the runway to take off.

Now, I am not sure if all airlines have this, but JetBlue has little individual TVs in the back of each headrest so each passenger can watch shows. Cable is free, but movies cost six dollars. I settled on the Animal Planet as we launched down the runway and into the sky, and after ten minutes in the air and watching Steve Irwin mishandle rattlesnakes for a few minutes as I exchanged pithy remarks with Harvard, I felt a great deal of relief.

Harvard seemed amazed that I had not flown in 20 years or ever been to California before, somehow missing the fact that I have not had money to do so or reason to go very far at all in 20 years. I mean, trekking to the Pagan Leadership Skills Conference in Richmond VA, going to Nova Scotia for our honeymoon, and driving to NJ can all be done by car, so it hasn’t been too big a worry. When have I needed to go to CA?

California is a five+ hour flight. I watched ‘House’, took a short nap, and studied the little airplane on Harvard’s screen as it slowly glided over Arizona some four hours into the trip. I was totally weirded out by the fact that I was going to California, and who would blame me?

We did eventually land, and Harvard and I bid each other farewell. I hope that he has fun in the Peace Corps before going into the Marines. He seems like a nice kid, even if he was an Economics major.

Yes, you are in LA. And you can stay at the Best Western. Which I didn’t.

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