the one-eyed man is not king
The problem with Northwest (which, by the way, has apparently rebranded since our last trip in '02) is that you need to stop in Japan.
The problem with Japan is the fact that I am still traumatized by my last extended stay there. Everything was just so freaking expensive, and every move I made involved spending my dwinsling finances. It was also there that I experienced my most expensive cab ride, but that's another story.
This time though we stayed only very briefly. Sage behaved herself well, both on the trip and inside the airport.
She kept going over to peek at Butch Dalisay (it turns out that the Filipino writer I admire the most was on his way to New York and San Diego to deliver some papers) and playing with the Japanese touch screens.
And as usual, I bonded with all the other smokers, gasping for our last breath of nicotaine-y goodness before the long haul.
The philisophic struggle (to drug or not to drug) was resolved when Sage simply refused to take her "medicine". Which meant that our collective sanity was on the line for the next lifetime of the long trip.
However, much to our relief, Sage proved a cooperative passenger, demanding no more than a little girl on her second longhaul trip would demand (the first time around, she was less than a year old).
In fact, the only stressful time for me was when she decided she wanted my seat. Not to sit with me but to trade forever. I tried reasoning with her that it was necessary for me to sit along the aisle but being my daughter, she refused to budge and we had a contest of wills. In the end, her chi broke my spirit and she got the seat, and I sulked in her former seat.
My right eye (which had started to swell during our final videoke blowout in Manila) had blossomed into a full-on sty (internal and hidden) which caused me much aggravation.
The rest of the trip was just tiring - and so, dehydrated and half-blind we stumbled into Detroit.
During the new digital fingerprinting and picture-capture process at immigration, I kept hoping that Sage would say anything untoward about the nice Afro-American who handled our entry (or at least not aloud). She didn't, and we went through the rest of irritating (but necessary) steps they added since the terror thing began.
Ultimately, we gravitated to the only smoking area in the entire smoke-free Detroit airport (Fox's Club) and paid $7 to smoke. While Nikki and Sage explored the huge airport, I felt like one of the pack mules on the Amazing Race, staked out an area near our connecting flight, spread out and slept, zombie-fashion.
I was so exhausted I didn't care. And it felt good to just stretch my cramped limbs. Besides, the Evil Eye of Orm-by-Gore had progressed from irritant to Medical Concern by that time, and all the Visine in the world could not help. My girls found me and protected me from theft and rape and whatever.
Sage was already on her inner reserves when our flight was finally called.
As soon as I sat down, I fell asleep like Sage.
Neither of us were functioning. Nikki was in charge of our lives. Like the three crones of Greek myth, I gave her my one good eye.
My brain was mush anyway.
Literally unable to read signs because of blindness, I staggered to find our luggage. Thankfully, Jack and Mom found us and rescued us from collapse on the conveyor belt.
I quick steak meal and a cigarette fortified me for the drive to Palm Coast (recently hit by the hurricanes) but all I wanted to do was to rip my eye out.
We stopped by an all-night pharmacy because I wanted muriatic acid to pour into my eye to melt it and make it pay for all the anguish it caused me. But better pharmaceutical minds prevailed. I was advised to apply warm compresses.
ME: Okay. so what do I buy?
PHARMA GIRL: From us? Nothing. You need nothing.
ME: Nothing? But you're a store! And I want to buy something for my eye.
PG: You'll be fine in a couple of days.
Dejected and empty-handed, I got back into the car looking like Mr. Miyage from Karate Kid and feeling like a random character from one of Hieronymus B.'s paintings.
And then we were home. Happily so. Before we realized that everyone in Florida keeps their homes as cold as upstate New York in winter.
And I finally got my hands on the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror with my story in it.
My swollen eye forced itself open to read the words, my words, those wonderful words that no longer felt like mine at all.
I can't believe it - all over again.