I’m walking down a poorly-lit, clinical hallway. I know it’s not a hospital, as I just de-planed, but I’m not quite sure if I am in the right hallway, despite the baggage claim signs.
The problem is I don’t know where I am. As I said, I just got off a plane. I pulled my wool coat from the overhead bin and put it on, but as I stepped on the jetbridge, I realized it was way too warm for a coat. But wasn’t I going somewhere cold?
This hallway was familiar. I recall a sense of satisfaction, so last time I was here I must have had a nice flight. No clues yet to where I am. Usually there is a helpful welcome sign, like ‘Welcome to Boise: City of Trees’. That was fresh in my mind, so that must have been where I came from. Yes, yes it was! Thanksgiving. Nonie’s birthday. Cancelled plane to Chicago. Seeing Hugo in the middle of the day. It all came back to me. I find the carousel and look around. There’s a woman kissing her King Charles Spaniel and ignoring the baby stroller next to her. Every car I can see through the windows has tinted windows. I’m in Los Angeles! Hooray!
My bags come off the carousel first and I remember that I was worried about them earlier. I go outside in search of the taxi stand and notice that I smell of stale sweat, the scent that usually arrives at the end of long days, long sleeves and exhaustive travels. Maybe I’m so tired I don’t know I’m tired. I find a taxi and tell the man ‘Sheraton Gateway’ with confidence. He looks at me confused and vaguely waves forward. ‘It over there. Nineteen dollar. Or go take bus’. I have no idea what’s going on, and he clearly thinks I’m a moron. The taxi attendent gets me get out of the car and points me towards the shuttle area. It takes 10 minutes to dodge cars and pull a suitcase, duffle bag, carry-on purse and normal purse.
On the shuttle, my phone dies. I have my spare battery, so I try to pop off the back of the phone. My fingernail breaks at the the attempt, and I know I don’t have a pen. There is a small indentation for this job, and I immediately stick one of my pointy teeth into the phone. A man in a fanny pack is staring; I snarl.
We pull up to the hotel and I remember to tip the Irish driver. The desk girl asks me my last name. “Zuckman!”, I state with confidence. This one I’ve got in the bag. “Last name?”, she asks again. “Zuckman?”, I respond. I’m pretty sure. “Name?” One more time she looks at me. I’m positive my lips have been moving. I glance down at my license. Yes, there it is. “Zuckman, Amanda. Z as in zebra”. Maybe I’ve just been mumbling. She rolls her eyes. “Oh, it’s been paid for already.” She seems disappointed by this.
I find my 8th floor room, and suddenly things make sense again. I find the lamp and proceed with my usual ritual: rip off clothes and force the thermostat down to arctic temperatures. I’m lying on my bad, half-way considering room service and watching What Not to Wear. There is something I’m supposed to do regarding my flight tomorrow, but hell if I can remember (but I am flying home! Which is in San Antonio!).