Monday, September 5, 2011

It Begins...

If the start to this trip is any indication of what is in store -- you, my dear readers -- are in for some laughs. I, on the other hand, may have a coronary. 

In all my scintillating brilliance, I decided NOT to take today off work. Couple that with my going to the beach this weekend, where nearly everyone stared in disbelief. "Aren't you leaving for Italy on Monday?" Well, yes, I am... but I really love my beach house and I couldn't resist one more weekend. Even though I spent half of it repacking my bag and finding workout clothes -- which I forgot to bring. Cest la vie. 

I would say that in Italian, but I never had time to open the Rosetta Stone before I left. 

Needless to say, things are a bit rushed. Since I've whored out my apartment while I'm traveling to a perfectly lovely couple, mom and I stayed the night at a friend of hers in Alexandria, VA. Also lovely, with a bed I literally had to jump to get in to. That's saying something considering I'm 5'11". My brother Ryan called as we were heading to the office to pray for a safe trip. If you followed Mermaids to Graceland, you will be surprised to hear we got only three heavenly lord fathers this time round. I hope we make it.

We got to the office early and work went fine. What follows can only be explained well over drinks. Please pour one now. Spill a little for me, your homie. I need it. 

 A cabbie was dropping someone off at NPR, and kind of waited around watching me unload bags from the car in front if the building. I told him we were heading to the airport in a few minutes, but we didn't want to pay a wait fee. Yeah... frugality is either my curse or my strong suit. He offered to wait. He and my mom started loading the car, chatting, as I went to park mine. I jump in and we are on our way. Early. 

This is too simple. 

What have I forgotten?

We get almost all the way to Reagan International Airport before I realize it's my iPod and headphones. The one with all the walking tours of Italy I didn't have time to load on to it. I still want it. I mean, I'm traveling with my mother for a month. The meditation podcasts I DO have on there might come in handy. Now, what happens next will literally shock anyone from the DMV region. The driver turned off the meter... and turned around. Really. We get back to NPR. I get my ID from my desk, my keys from another floor, my iPod and headphones from the car, return the keys, and get back to the cab in about five minutes. I'm afraid it was not as classy as an episode of Baywatch, but I am fairly sure there was a bit of a show. 

Back on our way. We give Assefa, our amazing driver, $26 bucks for the ride, though the meter was about $13. Smooth sailing as we check in on Delta. The desk agent asks for Mrs. Blaszyk to put her bag on the scale. I look at mom, fiddling with the locknon my bag. I tell her she's talking to her. Mom says no, she's talking to me. The agent looks confused. She asks who Ms. Blaszyk is. We reply, "We both are." Very funny, but just to set the record straight... I am NOT Ms. Blaszyk. Eeep.

Heading down the escalator to get something to eat before security I realize something aweful. Something that instantly makes my tummy sink in a way that could literally set this trip on a disaster course before it ever gets off the ground. I don't have my camera. And neither does my mother. That's because it is in the cab. I'm already running back upstairs before mom has time to process what my panic is about. 

Perhaps I should explain. My camera is my baby. I don't like other people touching it. I shoot with a Nikon D90, a step down from the professional gear I got to carry working as a photog for The State News, but respectable nonetheless. And not cheap. That's just the camera BODY. The lenses are a whole other matter. Before I went to Ecuador and Peru, I invested in a Nikkor 18-200 1:3.5-5.6 vibration reduction lens that cost nearly half of what the camera did. Throw in the awesome flash kit, my mini disc player, my iPod, my Bang Olufson headphones, my plug converter kit for my iPad, my camera adapter kit for my ipad and a few other odds and ends and we're talking about $3 grand here.

I'm going to be sick.

I explain what has happened and ask one of the agents if I can use the phone while I tell mom to go wait by the curb in case he comes back. I have to give her credit... though I'm usually pretty observant, I didn't even get the name of the cab company -- but thankfully, she did. I get someone at the check in desk to help me look up the number to Black Pearl. It's Labor Day. What are the odds someone is going to pick up? Zero is the answer. I know I'm getting more pale by the moment, and these people at Delta are being so kind to try and help. I call ten different times. I try every extension. Nothing. 

I stop and think to myself that all the negative energy isn't helping. I call again. Minutes later, I hear my mothers voice calling me. She has the bag in her hands. I start hugging everyone. 

She said she stood on the sidewalk and prayed. He literally pulled up when she opened her eyes. I don't care which worked -- positive thinking or divine intervention -- it was a freaking miracle. Assefa said he got all the way back to DC and saw the bag on the back seat. He made a third trip back to drop it off, for which mom rewarded him with another nice tip. 

We could have just taken a limo at this point. 

You would think a lesson learned, right? Then you don't know us very well. We are enjoying a bite at TGIFridays, where we have a glass of champagne and toast to better luck and gelato ahead. Mom is telling me about how she upgraded to first class on e way here. I ask why. 

"I can give you 65 reasons why... all the people behind me." 

So we have promptly lost track of time and end up running to the gate. On the way, mom leaves HER backpack at security and loses one of the straps to her shoe. I may start praying at this point.

As I'm regaling the woman taking my ticket with what just has happened and she says the best thing, quoting Anthony Bourdain... "It's the journey."

And THAT it's shaping up to be. 

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