Bienvenido Mundo! For followers and sporadic checkers of Write Around the World, welcome to my newest blog, Strangers Have the Best Candy. Dontcha just love that title? This little doozy is going to be all about my adventures in the Big Apple as a grad student at Hunter College. From the fashion, to the food, to those wonderful strangers and all their delectable candy….stay tuned.
Yet, before I even got settled in the City, it seems Nueva York had other plans for me. I was to be put through the test of tests, the worst set of travel days ever to be experienced by a single human being. Am I known to exaggerate? NEVER!
I departed from the Mo Bay airport in Jamaica on July 8. All week, I had been nervous and apprehensive, and sure that this dream move to New York (by way of a visit to my bro in Austin) would be anything but smooth. You know when you wake up with that nervous gut-feeling. Ya. The day would not be free of surprises until I was in a bed in Austin, barely alive. Once again, I never exaggerate.
I hope you like bullet points:
- When I get to the airport, both of my bags are overweight. With my BF’s help, I get both bags down to 49.5 lbs. I wanted to get some patties for Dominique (sis-in-law) and bro Burke…negative. I cannot take a sheet of blank paper at this point.
- Because I’m leaving my BF of three years, I start bawling as he walks me over to security. We make the “see you later” quick. As if I don’t have enough problems, now I’m going through security crying.
- I get to the security check point and I hear the agent say, “Denise, I have another one for you.” For the first time in my life, I am “randomly” selected for a second screening, where they pull me into a side room and swab my hands, my bags and proceed to search everywhere but the cavities. I get a “pass” (glory hallelujah) and proceed.
- I head straight to the gate (not chancing it) and HA! I get pulled aside for a SECOND, second screening. At the gate. Remember, I have not yet even left Montego Bay!
- Upon landing in Miami, I am detained for four hours. That’s right, FOUR. 11 am to 2 pm. Fortunately, I suspected I was in for a detention, and booked a 4 pm flight. Nevertheless, by 1:45, I was going stir crazy. Hunger was kicking like Van Damme, and I wanted to eat my luggage, my bag, my hand! Funny enough, I saw a very prominent member of Jamaica’s upper crust, in a suit, with his beige-clad wife blinding everyone with her diamonds. After that I didn’t feel like such a criminal. The reason? Apparently one of the gazillion US schools I have attended has not informed Homeland Security that I am no longer a student with them, so that is what I have to do to stop being held in the little room every time I travel…..consider that done the minute I reach NYC.
- Upon release, I head to get my bags, only to walk around the WHOLE baggage claim area and can’t find them. Turns out, the usually-suspicious airport security had put my bags back through to their final destination. Hey, at least they weren’t lost.
- Next stop, food! By the time I re-clear security, it’s 3:00 pm. Went to the nearest Nathan’s and ate a hamburger and a hot dog nearly simultaneously. Boom boom. Didn’t even blink. This was the first solid food since eating leftover dinner at 5:00 am. I was so hungry it took my body a minute to register that I had even eaten.
- My flight to Atlanta (to connect to Austin) was delayed. I was already pushing it with a 42-minute connection. By the time we land, I had 12 minutes. When I get off the plane, running with what I’m sure is a sweaty, wild look in my eyes and screaming “I have to catch flight 689! Which gate is it?! Can somebody call and tell them I’m coming?!”. Only to hear, “No ma’am, we can’t call the gate and they close off the flight 10 minutes before departure.” I have 8 minutes. I didn’t even have to shout “move”. People start diving out of my way, clearly fearing the steam blowing out of my incredibly flared nostrils. Security is shouting to me “what do you need, how can we help you?” …..Where is my flight? A whole other concourse over. I have to take a fricking train! Then when I get from concourse A to B, I am at the LAST gate in the flipping concourse! I am running like it’s the goddamn Olympics! Asafa Powell’s sweet, juicy butt cheeks couldn’t bounce as high as mine on that run. As I round the corner, I bawl out “I’m here! I’m here! Don’t lock di gate!” When I hand my boarding pass to the attendant, all I can do is bend over and pant. Did I mention that all of this was done in three inch wedge heels?
- When I land in Austin (FINALLY), I have to wait for everyone to get off the plane because my bags are in overhead bins at the back. We land 15 minutes later than scheduled and at baggage claim, there is no sign of Dom and Burke. I call Burke from a pay phone and get voicemail. My blood goes from zero to boiling in 2 seconds, but then I start to panic. Is there another Austin? Like in Georgia or somewhere known for having famous name cities? Did I fly into the right one? After this day, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another Austin! I finally get Dominique, which is ironic because she is known for never answering her phone, and it’s like the world melts away and I’m safe. They were there in 5 minutes, my bags were on time and before I could say “day from hell”, I was at their dining room table, my belly full of spaghetti and meat sauce.
Alas, the adventure does not finish. I spend three gourmet days in Austin, but deathly hollows of travel have MUCH more in store for me. And that’s to come in Part II.