Well, before all the hoopla with the road trip, there was the week visit at home.
My plane was to arrive at approximately 10.15 PST. I called my mom right after I boarded the plane to let her know, and she said, "Okay, see you in a couple hours."
My flight ended up being Delta Song, and just as I'd heard, it was kind of like JetBlue. Televisions for every seat. However, I don't recall if all the seats were leather like JetBlue. Anyway. It was pretty good. Oh, except for having to buy all food. At least JetBlue gives you those little boxes with crackers and cheese, and cookies.
Anyway, the plane got in on time. I walked toward the arrival gate, anticipating being greeted by Mommy. My smile faded as I scanned the crowds, not seeing her. Hm, strange. Okay, well maybe she got mixed up with the wrong arrival gate, that's happened before. So I walked through baggage claim to the other gates...not there either.
I strolled around the area, and soon the bags came through, though the flight was not marked on the display thing above the carousel. It was only two down from the one listed on the monitors, though. My bag came through right after I stepped up to look, which was fantastic and never happens.
Still no Mom. I called her cell phone again, and it was turned off. Strange indeed. This had never happened before. She had always either been there or called me, always.
This went on for forty-five minutes. Me pacing around, up and down, growing more and more uneasy and anxious. I even retraced my steps to the arrival gate. Nothing anywhere. Eventually, I found the airline desk and had them page her, but by then I was already giving up hope.
I called my younger brother and he said he'd go check her house. He reported back that no one was home and her red car was gone. I tried to keep my voice steady as I said, "I don't know what to do. This has never happened before...I guess I need to start calling hospitals."
And I did. I called all the hospitals in the area, trying to stay calm and act like an adult. It felt so surreal, but I just couldn't think of what else to do. What other conclusion was there?
One last pace around, then I finally got in a cab, still searching for a sign of her car at least. It had now been over an hour since my plane had landed.
Thank god I got cash before I left New York, and that my mom lives a 20-minute drive from the airport. As the taxi sped up the highway, I scanned the sides of the road, looking for wreckage or disabled vehicles. My reluctant plan was to get to her house (I still have the key on my keyring), put down my stuff, and then find and visit the local police.
Halfway there, my phone rang, and I jumped on it. It was an unfamiliar local number, and I answered.
My mom's voice said pleasantly-but-slightly-annoyed, "Well, where are you?"
I burst into tears, right there in the backseat of that taxicab. "Oh my god Mom, I'm in a cab, because I thought you were dead!"
She of course felt awful, and I asked, "Where in the world are you?"
"I'm at Carousel 16."
"What the hell is Carousel 16?!" My baggage had come in on, like, 5, so I was at that far end. When I'd done the pacing, I'd gone as far as deserted number 10 and figured that was the end of the row or whatever, because I couldn't see any more after that.
"It's where United bags come in," she said defensively.
"My flight was Delta!"
"Oh...I wrote it down earlier but forgot to bring it with me. My phone died and it didn't occur to me that I could use a payphone until a few minutes ago, then I had to go get quarters..."
Quite an inauspicious beginning to my carefree summer visit, eh?