3:30 AM in New York City, the neon lights of Times Square awaken the evening sky. Hold on, I don’t live near Times Square. Why are there flashing lights uptown? Shit, it’s a thunderstorm, said I. While still half asleep, I couldn’t go back to bed with the pitter-patter of raindrops.
On that dreary Thursday morning, I was off to that most grey of places, sunny Palm Springs, CA (insert laughter). As I wrestled with the notion of going back to bed, I had a 4 am car picking me up. As I almost shed a tear to accompany the sad sky outside, I prepared my outfit for the great expedition out west.
I was all packed up for the trip. Feeling like Mr. Cary Grant, I sashayed down my walk-up, schlepping a very heavy carry-on. The thunder persisted, which caused me to make a less than glamorous dash into the car.
As my car drove slowly through the rain soaked Tri-Borough Bridge, the Manhattan skyline was fogged in. From a distance the Chrysler building was adorned with white lights.
Hello Queens, I arrived at La Guardia airport. The road from New York to Palm Springs, would take a detour into Dallas-Fort Worth. By 5 AM, I was already cranky and exhausted. However, grand images of Palm Springs play like great actors on the Broadway stage; the grand mountains with windmills, desert sands, kitschy 50s architecture, pool parties with tons of gays and most inspiring of all, seeing my father, who lives in California.
I successfully reached the gate and was ready to board my flight. “The layover in Dallas was a quick one. I must get my power-walking New Yorker skills into play,” said I, while flipping through the duty free guide. The rain falls into hibernation. I gleefully stare out the window. “Sorry folks, we’re having electrical issues, we will be delayed for few minutes,” said the pilot.
It was like an intense needle scratch on a precious Beatles tune for my ears. “What I can’t be delayed, I have a flight to Palm Springs to catch. I really want to have a burrito at Las Casuelas with my dad. I listened to my most calming golden oldies, while the plane remained stuck at LaGuardia.
By 6:30 AM, the problem had been fixed; the plane took off like a bird headed south for line dancing. Good-bye New York, see you in four days, said I. Then I closed the window shade on the Northeast. I watched a campy gay film on my laptop. I drank airplane coffee, which has always been a frightening concept.
I re-opened the shade, while flying somewhere over Texas. The land was flat and green. I imagined, Texas to be less green. Slowly the airplane approached the Dallas. The houses were wide and came accompanied with crystal blue-watered pools.
As the plane continued its path, quintessential Texas images emerged. Football fields, water towers, expansive freeways and more large houses. The Dallas skyline in the far distance was in a sea of haze as the expanse
9:05 AM, Finally, the plane made its final descent into Dallas-Fort Worth airport. It landed. I called my dad, to let him know I was halfway to California. Dashing from the plane, I stepped into DFW, which like Texas was sprawling. You could fit several generations of Smurfs and still have plenty of room for more. It was also clean and modern, as opposed to other airports (cough, cough LGA & JFK)
I dashed through the terminal, passing many chain restaurants and weary travelers. “I may have a short window, but I’ll make this flight, I told myself. “It’s right across the terminal, since every airline is housed in one marvelous terminal,” said I. Swiftly, I looked up at the very high escalator with signs directing passengers to distant fairy tale lands. These lands were DFW’s other terminals.
Reaching the top of the escalators, I entered the air train. For once, I too felt like a lost puppy dog. With great confusion, I asked a friendly Texan, “Excuse me, is this the right way to gate D14? She smiled and said, “Yes, this is the right train. It goes in a circular loop around DFW.
Fortunately for me, my terminal was at the end of the loop (not). I listened to melancholy 90’s music. The train looped around every terminal possible. Round orange lights shined brightly every time; the train arrived at another riveting terminal. My New York neurosis levels rose to extreme highs. This was a true fete, which could only be accomplished outside the five boroughs.
“Goodbye burritos from Las Casuelas,” said I. ” Guess, it’s Applebee’s at DFW for me. Oy, airport food,” said I. ”
Texas BBQ, sausage, pulled pork, sausage with a beer,” said my brain while speaking gently to my taste buds. “That’s right, if I get stuck in Dallas, I could call my friend, Nicky and head out of the airport for real Texan style BBQ, a foodie’s dream, naturally.
After many commercial breaks, I arrived at my terminal. Secretly, I wanted to get stuck in Dallas, as an excuse to eat really well. So, I walked just a bit slower. My flight just happened to be at the very end of the terminal. When I finally arrived at the gate, my anxiety levels and reality kicked. Shit, I have a hotel in Palm Springs, I must check-in, said I.
As I proceeded to obtain my boarding pass, the agent gave me a stern look. “Did you give away my seat?” I asked. She shook her head, yes. With one nervous gulp, I said to myself “At least, I’ll have a good food coma, if I have to take the nighttime flight.” Miraculously, the travel fairies sprinkled their dust on my head. A seat happened to pop up.
I boarded the flight to Palm Springs. “Sorry Dallas, I didn’t get to explore your delightful culinary scene, but there’s always a sequel to DFW somewhere in my future. In the meantime, it was hello, Palm Springs, ” said I.
The plane took off. I met a wonderful new friend and had an amazing land locked flight. After three hours, I landed and experienced the crown jewel of California summers, dry heat. I was lovingly reunited with my father. As predicted we had a very large burrito from Las Casuelas.
Then in a scene out of a Woody Allen movie, the weather became slightly neurotic, especially for old Palm Springs. Boom, there was rain with a hint of humidity, followed by rain. “Oy, you can take the boy out of New York for four days, but the shit weather will follow is the moral of this story.