duck-shaped pain


5 April 2001
Day Five - The End


Day Five

(one, two, three, four)

My last day was pretty subdued and mellow. I was pretty wiped out from the previous four days, so I wasn't up for much exploring, and I didn't really have a whole lot of time, so I spent a lot of time just hanging out.

Since O. had left, there was a new person in the room. Neither R. and I had met her -- the previous night, when we had returned from our various activities, she had just been sleeping there in the bed. While we were sitting around talking, our new roommate got up, climbed down from her bunk and left the room without speaking. She came back about 20 minutes later, climbed back in bed and went back to sleep, also without saying anything. We figured she was just tired or surly or something. Then she repeated the same thing a couple of times. On the last go-round, she finally spoke. There was a tiny scrap of paper in the middle of the floor, left by someone. She was headed on her now-usual trajectory from the door to the bed, when she noticed the paper. She stopped, peered down at it, and said, very loudly, "THERE IS SOMETHING ON THE FLOOR!" Then, off to bed again. Strange. At least I was leaving. R. had a couple of days left to stay.

Woke up as usual. Was glad that I had packed up all my stuff the previous night, since making wee rustling sounds with my clothes and the baggies they go in might wake up Concerned Scrap of Paper Woman, and I sort of felt that might not be a good idea. My favorite thing about leaving the room was that I wouldn't have to lean over R. in bed in order to fetch my things anymore.

I didn't buy a whole lot on my trip, but I found that the stuff that had once fit in my backpack so easily now overwhelmed it. Fitting it all in took a lot of folding and refolding and stuffing and smoothing out the lumps. The big sketchbook I bought took up the most room -- I put it where it could rest against my back when I put the backpack on, thinking this would be a good idea (it wasn't). I had worn my bulkiest clothes on the trip to SF, and wasn't wearing them on the way back, so that also took up space. But I finally got everything to fit.

Showered, dressed. Said goodbye to R., as we both watched carefully for signs of life from the occupied bunk. Checked out and stashed the bulging backpack in one of the hostel's lockers.

If you've read this far, you already know what I ate for breakfast. English muffin. Crab cake. Poached eggs. Hollandaise sauce. Coffee. Yum. I ate more than I had in previous mornings (but not all -- these portions were enormous), and was genuinely sad to think that this was my last morning in the city.

The older guy sitting next to was was someone I had seen before. He was checking in to the hostel while I was checking out. As I sat there, concentrating on my eggs, he was thumbing through his guidebook and looking at his map, trying to figure out exactly what to go and how to spend his time in SF. I envied him, being at the beginning of his journey while I was at the end of mine. He barely even ate any of his blueberry pancakes.

After breakfast, I didn't have a whole lot of time. I could maybe go to a store or two or walk around a bit, but that would be about all. So there really isn't much to say here. I went to the Virgin Megastore and read through British music magazines and thought about buying the Pettibon book again. I went to the bookstore again and bought a book I'd found while poking around there the previous day: The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society by Lucy Lippard (it's excellent, but it is taking me forever to read -- two weeks and I'm only on page 70. But they're big pages). Then, it was getting reasonably close to the time when I needed to head for the airport. But -- I needed one last macaroon before I left.

I went over to Café de la Presse again, getting a table out on the sidewalk this time. I ordered coffee, a watercress salad, and a macaroon. I felt bad that I wasn't going to get the mussels, but I wasn't hungry enough for them, and it was hot and sunny outside, which wasn't putting me in the mood for things that go bad easily. But I felt momentarily better when the guy at the table next to me ordered them and they were out. Oh well -- I can always come back again.

My waiter (the gayest waiter ever) came back with the macaroon, expressing profust regret because they were also out of plain macaroons. He had brought me a chocolate-covered one to replace it, but would understand if I didn't want it. Yes -- what a shame it was that I had to accept the chocolate macaroon instead. I ate, and it was all good.

I walked back to the hostel, claimed my backpack, and walked over to the BART station. Got on a train, and when that ended, got on a bus. The airport was crowded. I wasn't sure whether to check my backpack or not, so I got in the baggage check line in case I decided to. There were many people in line, so I was glad that I got there sort of early, but I just breezed through. I had decided to keep all my stuff with me at this point (this was a very good decision), so the clerk I ended up with was confused as to why I was there, but that was the extent of the problems.

Bought a paper. Bought some water. Made it to the gate. There were flocks and flocks of people there, all waiting in line. I sat down, and overheard that this was the line of people who had bypassed the front desks because they weren't checking anything in. Thinking that the gate would be quicker, they all headed here, where they all had to wait. I felt oddly satisfied.

The scheduled departure time came and went. I wasn't too worried, as I had a long layover in Denver. A crackling sound came over the intercom, as some woman announced that it was okay to board now. The delay had occurred when no one could find our plane's crew.

I was at the very back, in the crowded section. Compared to the spaciousness of my flight to SF, this was very unpleasing. I had the window, and some guy from Arvada had the aisle. I placed the book I had bought previously on the empty seat between us, and Arvada Guy commented on it. He started telling me about his son and how he had gone to Argentina and got nearly pecked to death by a chicken while sleeping on a roof, but before he could really go to great detail, some guy scrambled down the aisle and plopped down in the seat between us. He was flying on standby, he announced to us, since he wasn't supposed to be in Denver until tomorrow, but boy, was he lucky to get this seat.

He was a busy man. He had Work To Do on this flight. Work that involved taking up a lot of room and using his elbows a lot and clearing his throat every ten seconds and constantly getting up and/or reaching for stuff under the seat. Fun.

Meal time. I had forgotten that I was due to get a vegetarian meal. They served all of the special meals first, so that others could watch us eat while waiting for their meals (choice of Cube O'Beef or Desiccated Chicken Breast - yum yum).

I should have known something was wrong when the flight attendant handed me a glass of ice water with my meal. At this point, they had only not served anyone else, but no drinks had even made an appearance in the cabin yet.

The salad was okay. I wasn't sure what the entrée was -- it was something soft and orange on top of something softer and sort of granular in texture -- my guess was sweet potatoes and couscous, but that's not what it tasted like. There was a slice of rye bread with it, which was edible. It was the vegan cookie that was the problem. The glass of water was there to make sure that no one choked on it or needed other medical assistance after eating this cookie. It was that hard and dry.

Now, I've had vegan baking before, and I've had things that were tasty, but this was not. Obviously, there was no butter or eggs in it, but there was also no oil (which is vegan, last time I checked) or sweetener (even fruit juice) on any kind in it. There were brown things in it, too. Not chocolate, of course, but not raisins or anything else. When my rowmates got their meals, I stared enviously at their little baggies of Milano cookies.

We landed an hour late. Since I had an hour and a half left until my flight home, this did not unnerve me. I bought some gummi worms (must. get. vegan. cookie. out. of. head.) and sat down to read the paper I had with me. It was snowing fairly badly in Denver, but I was also not worried about this. I mean, we spent 5 billion dollars a few years ago on a new airport to take care of this problem, right?

So, I boarded my flight home on time. Then we sat. And sat some more. Then it was announced that we needed to be de-iced, and that there were a lot of planes ahead of us (implied but not actually said: planes going somewhere much more interesting than we were) that also needed to be de-iced, so we were going to have to wait.

Which we did. For two hours. There was not much to do. This was a tiny plane, so there was not room to spread out. I read the entire Sunday paper and looked out the window a lot. Watching a bunch of big planes in the fog and snow while people in cranes spray de-icer fluid on them is a surprisingly thrilling sight. Finally, we took off, and the flight back home was uneventful.

I was so tired the next day. I slept for forever and ever and took the day off of work. But am I glad I went? Oh, yes. It was a great trip. I ate a lot of food and saw a lot of things. I figured out that I could take a trip on my own and be perfectly happy. I wore silver glitter eyeshadow. I ate gluten. I sat on the bus next to a man with two parrots and an armful of bok choy. I got asked for directions a lot. But then I had to come home and go back to work. I have no idea when my next trip will be, but for my sake, I hope it comes soon.

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