My iPhone alarm is set to go off at 4:30am. That should give me plenty of time to get to the airport. Every minute of sleep is gold. But at 3:30 Nimbus, the naughty cat, pounces on fast-asleep Roxy (the good cat-except for the chronic throwing up), and this wakes me prematurely. Alas. It becomes apparent I'm not going to be falling back a-slumber so I might as well...you know...just get up.
Coffee Coffee Coffee Get me Coffee. I make a sandwich for the flight. Throw a large carrot stick in the bag. And a protein bar. And a napkin. Never forget the napkin.
The cats are confused. It's still dark.
I'm going to meet Layla for a Mother's Day weekend in New York. When she first suggested we rendezvous I was all like...r u kidding? I have Too much to do. But then of course I said yes. Life gets one day shorter every day.
Uber says 10 mins but now that I order one it says 30. Cancel uber. Not ok. lyft says 10.
I wait in front of my house in the dark morning fog. It's just me and the moon.
Driver stops 1 house away. I assume it's my ride but I don't see those pink lips on the windshield. I stroll on over and to make sure he's not a local ax murderer...tap on the window. It lowers. "Shelly?" he asks. Affirmative. Not an ax murderer.
I put my carry-on in the trunk myself. He's still waking up I guess. Not ready to go the extra mile. It’s EARLY. He’s quiet. But I’ll find him some sunshine in my pocket.
We roll away. Waze tells us to take Mulholland but Waze doesn't take canyon fog into consideration so we go rogue...
I ease into THE CHAT. Have you been driving all night? No—first ride. Is this your only work? No. He's a school teacher. His wife is a make up artist. House calls? Yes. Her work is sporadic thus the lyft driving before school starts.
When we've loosened up we slippery slope it into, you know...what's going on with our president’s peculiar behavior? Always a risky move cuz ya never know what a driver's politics are. And if you think you do but you're wrong the whole resta the ride is...umm...uncomfortable.
But I wasn't wrong. So we're cool. And I honestly don't know how we could AVOID the subject with what's been going on lately.
Now we're furiously engaged. It isn't small talk any more.
We pull into LAX and I realize…all these questions and I never even asked what his name was. I could have taken notice of it on the lyft notification but it didn't feel necessary at that time. Now it does. Now he's real. Awake. Happy even.
Daniel. He turns around to make visual contact—one last opportunity to see what, exactly, I look like. Who belongs to my voice? Make a connection. Driver and Rider.
I realize I don't know what he looks like either-beyond the shape of his head, his haircut, the width of his shoulders. Now I do.
We're here. Delta. Terminal 5. I’ve enjoyed our CHAT. I leave my card. Perhaps if our exchange left him curious he'll check me out online. Maybe he'll buy my book. Neh. Not gonna buy a book.
Good-bye, Daniel. I take my carry-on out of the trunk.
TSA-Pre. Yay. Best $80 I ever spent.
Drink my bottled water in 3 huge gulps. I'm a pro.
Through security. They don't red-flag my bag this time. I hadn't packed books which, for some reason, set off the metal detector. Go figure. No business on this trip. Just going to see my girl.
Charge up my phone.
Boarding group 3. I sneak in with boarding group 1. I don't get caught. Phew. That could be embarrassing.
Ugh. Middle seat. Last minute flight. No options. I'll survive. I'd fly on the wing for my daughter. There's a keep-to-herself female on either side of me. Grateful. I've got my pillow from home in my lap and my eye mask around my neck...ready to make up for that last hour of sleep Naughty Nimbus robbed me of.
As I close my eyes I think about Daniel. How many rides will he have today? How many conversations will there be? I secretly hope ours was his favorite.
Fasten my seatbelt.
Time to turn off my phone.
See you on the other side.