Hello, writers and friends!
Last weekend I promised to regale you with the tale of my trip to Boston. It was a doozy, I'll tell you. My frayed nervesÂ nearly short-circuited and my heart beat like a drummer gone wild. But I made it, and ended up enjoying aÂ splendid Christmas visit with my mother.
Before I share the story, I want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas to all, and thanks for your friendship and support. Gus and family wish you happy holidays, too. He's probably cooking up a storm right now while the white stuff flies and the grandkids play around his feet in the kitchen.
Hmm. Kind of like what I plan to do today...
I'll see you next year! ;o)
Aaron Paul Lazar
Homeward Bound: It never snows in December any more...
My cell phone rang at 10:07.
"This is Orbitz, calling to inform you that your 3:00 flight to Boston has been cancelled."
I looked at the phone as if it were an alien.
No way! This trip I'd been planning for months, had been imagining and dreaming about for weeks in advance, this trip that was my mother's Christmas present, for Heaven's sake, couldn't be in jeopardy.
It had just barely begun to snow in Rochester. At least the last time I'd looked out the window. Of course, I'd been sequestered in my lab at Kodak for the past few hours,Â trying to get everything in shape for my planned long weekend at my mother's home in Massachussetts.
I dialed the number for Orbitz and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, a lovely lady with a strong accent came on the line from somewhere in... Malaysia, I think. She informed me that if I could make it to the airport by 11:00, I'd make the last flight out to Boston.
Heart pounding, I quickly composed a note to my colleagues and dashed out of work. The airport lies about 15 minutes east of our plant on a good day with dry roads.Â I was shocked to discoverÂ the snow had been falling hard and driving was alreadyÂ treacherous. I reached the airport at 10:35, and parked on the top lot. No time to search for a protected spot. No time to park in the cheaper lot. No time at all.
Am I insane? Should I even be doing this?
No time to think. Keep moving.
Choices became deal breakers.
If IÂ ride the elevator down to the terminal, will that take the extra 30 seconds that makes me miss the flight?
Forget about it.
I bumped my battered suitcase down the eight steps and ran across the road to the terminal.
No one stood in the US Air line, except two business travelers who were already being helped.
I rushed up to an empty kiosk and swiped my credit card to get my boarding pass.
"Too late to check in. Sorry."
With a rush of frustration, I dragged my bag back to the line and waited. The minutes ticked by, the perspiration wetted my brow, and my heart still hammered like a woodpecker in heat. (I've never seen such a thing, but it just sounded good. LOL)
The efficient lady behind the counter got me going and yelled over to the baggage guys across the way.
"One more bag to Boston! This is the last one, Sam!"
Convinced I'd arrive in Boston without my bag, I shrugged it off and ran toward the security gate, clomping along in my snowboots that I'd agonized over wearing that morning, knowing their laces would slow me down and be a pain in the process of getting through security.
Would this be the thing that made me miss my plane?
I unlaced them and took them off way in advance, and walked barefoot as the line snaked forward. Laptop - out of the bag. Cell phone - out of the pocket. No liquids. Coat off - in a tray by itself with the boots.
I passed through the security archway just fine, but when trying to collect my stuff, with ten minutes to spare til takeoff, I was brought up cold.
"Sorry, sir, your briefcase set off the alarm. You'll have to follow me."
My heart dropped. I'd never had a problem with security, and today, of all days, I felt like a terrorist. Hair and eyes wild with worry, sweating like a pig, I stood there and babbled on about my mother's Christmas present and my plane leaving in ten minutes.
It made me look even more guilty.
Carefully and with plodding efficiency, the security guy tried to pull on gloves to do a search of my bag. It took him at least two full minutes to get them on his beefy hands. Finally, after I'd been patted down and cleared, I was released.
Those four mile walks I'd been doing at lunch time paid off. I'd even been jogging a little bit off and on, although I couldn't go very far in one spurt. But I felt like an Olympic athlete shooting for the finish line.
Run. Run. Run!
The gate was the farthest on the end. A9.
Where the hell is it? I saw A11. A10. A8. No A9.
Finally, I spotted it, behind a column. The ticket taker waved me on, hurrying me through the door, which clanged shut behind me. Heaving forÂ oxygen andÂ dripping in sweat, I made it onto the plane and plopped into my seat. Still out of breath, I called my mother and told her I'd made it.
Two hours later, we took off, after two de-icings, twoÂ long waits for the runway to be plowed,Â and an accidental spray of deicer into the engine, which shut the plane down cold.
But the capable captain and staff got us there safely, and there weren't any terrorists on board, thanks to the security guys' solid work. (I am grateful for their dedication, truly!)
My driver, a fellow named Billy, hired by my mom to avoid her having to deal with the traffic, had been waiting since 12:30. At 2:15, we took off for Mum's house, a mere hour and fifteen minutes away.
"It's gonna be a long ride, fella," Billy admonished. "Better use the restroom if you haven't."
I'd just visited the tiny bathroom on the plane, and had been buffeted between the narrow walls as we hit turbulence. But I felt comfortable, and told him so.
"I'm fine, Billy. Let's just get on the road."
Over the next four and a half hours, I learned all about Billy and his life as a driver. As we crawled in deep trenches of snow at 11 miles an hour down route 3, 93, 24, and 495, we bonded, trading stories about our families and his colorful history driving famous sports figures. I spoke to his daughter on the phone, as she told me about her encounter with Ringo Starr. We shared Beatle fan stories and more.
It was when the windshield wipers stopped that it really got hairy.
"I think we've got a problem," he said as he leaned forward and peered out the foggy window. Snow had built up rapidlyÂ to form anÂ icy damn along the window base, slowly closing our field of vision to a tiny hole.
We were in the passing lane, taking a left onto route 24. No shoulder. No place to pull over. Billy followed the glare of red lights in front of us, now almost blind.
"I'll pull over under the bridge," he said.
He drove the old Lincoln town car to the left, where snowbanks piled high. There was no way to tell if we were really out of the line of traffic, but now the front window was completely plastered with snow.
With bare hands, he tried to free the frozen wipers. I got out and pulled eight inches of snow from the back window. And when we were ready to pull back into the passing lane (!), neither of us could see worth a damn.
Thank God for the police. The blue flashing light behind us was a blessing. He helped us back into the traffic.
Four more times the windshielf wipers stopped. Four more times we got out to free them from ice and snow.
After one particularly treacherous icy slide on the 495 exit, we finally made it to my mother's house. Mum and I both gave him extra money for getting me home safely, and I collapsed into the warmth of a welcome hearth and hearty meal.
The rest of the weekend was gorgeous, except for the new storm on Sunday! I visited with family, got up for early morning walks and photo shoots, feasted on wonderful meals, drank Amaretto on ice, and played scrabble by the fire. Mum and I watched Campion, both falling asleep by 8:30 each night. And Trixie, her faithful Welsh Corgi, kept us company the whole time.
The flight home was smooth as silk - no hitches and bright sunshine greeted me in Rochester, NY.
But it never snows in December any more, does it?
Here are some of the shots I took while visiting my mother. ;o) Enjoy!
This plate is one of her Sandwich plate collection that sits in the kitchen window. Always reminds me of home!
Mum's mailbox after the first storm. We got another six inches on Sunday!
She loves to decorate for Christmas. There are surprises around every corner!
These little angels sang carols to us!
Â Do you see the angel in the old shingles?
One night the sunset was gorgeous...
Morning skies were glorious, and worth rising early to capture.
The sun seemed to take its time rising, knowing how bitter cold the winds blew across this pond.
Bittersweet berries shed orange hulls on the white snow, and decorated this lovely old barn.
Windows from inside the old barn.
Gorgeous old doorway.
Merry Christmas to all!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â - Aaron