It is a cold, but not bitter February morning. 3 inches of wet, slushy snow fell overnight. This morning the winds were blowing clumps of it off of roofs, awnings and the ornate building fronts of my neighborhood pelting those of us going about our business below. Wheeling a gray trolley suitcase with a small duffle slung over it's handle, I head to the airport. After I transfer the train leaves downtown and heads south. It passes the loft apartments carved out of old warehouses and then the neighborhoods of bungalows which surround Midway airport. It is a part of the city I do not get to often. The snow has ebbed and now falls in uneven intervals. As I unzip my down jacket, I look forward to 4 full days in Phoenix, wearing shorts, sandals and tanks.
Let people say what they will about Chicago's transit system, the only thing that went smoothly this day was the ride to the airport. Once I arrived and checked my bag chaos reigned supreme.
Pre boarding security was some of the most poorly organized I have ever experienced. What began as lines morphed into a mob by the time the security desk was reached. People were checked and passed through to the metal detector in what appeared to be a completely arbitrary order. X ray screening was no more organized than the ticket and I.D. check. Being put through the new, extremely expensive full body scanner, I was subsequently spot checked. The machine indicated something on my left ankle. I did indeed have something on my left ankle, my sock.
The plane was delayed a half hour upon my arrival and closer to one and a half hours late we were finally in the air. On the up side, my layover in Denver would be cut considerably. On the downside, I had planned to call a convalescing friend during that layover. I hope I still have time to do so. I know he looks forward to and enjoys our phone conversations. Flurries were still in the air as we took off which makes the promise of the warmth of Arizona's sun all the sweeter.
The purpose of my trip, other than to escape the cold of a Chicago winter, is to visit a longtime friend of mine and his partner. He and I have traveled, laughed, gone to the theatre and the opera and treasured and enjoyed a friendship spanning almost 2 decades. This is my 4th visit, if memory holds. It does not hold the way that it used to.
Our head flight attendant on this leg of the trip is gay. I do not need to guess at this, it is a sure bet. A travel buddy of mine refers to gay male flight attendants as "air mattresses". This reputation is not entirely undeserved if the tales I have heard from those in the industry are true.
I land in Denver at one end of a terminal. My connecting flight departs from the other end of the terminal. I manage to find enough time to make the phone call and catch up with my friend on the mend. He recently underwent a liver transplant and has told me that our phone conversations are some of his best and most effective medicine.
Our gate agent is, again, unmistakeably gay and extremely slight with a shaggy haircut that makes him resemble Ellen De Generes. You would think that an airline with a name like "Frontier" would hire male employees who possessed the butch quotient that is insinuated by that word.
By all appearances we should arrive in Phoenix on time and I will begin to enjoy warm weather and a happy reunion with my old friends.