Sunday, July 20, 2008

Eyes pop open, clock says “2:57 AM,” and I’m up, three minutes before the alarm goes off, ready and eager to get to the airport, and on with my adventure. I shower, dress, zip the suitcase, kiss the kids and am out the door by 3:40, arriving at the airport at 4:00, an accelerated drive without traffic.

I find the Economy Lot and look for Blue 2, in honor of Rojo’s many-year fascination. There is a spot, just one, right by the sign. As I grab my luggage from the back of the car, the shuttle bus drives up, sees me, patiently waits for me to click the car locked, and I’m on the bus, seconds after parking.

Inside I effortlessly check in, load my bags onto the X-ray, and head for security. Waltz right though and am in a non-line, just a gathering, for Coffee People at 4:29.

“What? It’s not open yet?” I say to the woman next to me.

“No! I’ve been standing here since 4:10, and they promise to open at 4:30, and my watch says 4:30!”

“Well, you better just go ahead and take your rightful place at the front of the line,” I say, smiling, “clearly your caffeine needs are most urgent.”

Then the man standing next to me says, “I’ve been awake for three days!”

“Okay,” I say, “you’re first,” and then I sweep my arms, Vanna White style, and say to the ever-growing crowd, “we’re lining up on basis of need,” and they all chuckle.

Coffee People officially opens, and everyone gets into a well-organized line, once the ropes are put in their proper place and order is created. I find myself somewhere in the middle of the line, no longer near either of my two new best friends.

“Medium coffee with room,” I say with some expertise to the gentleman in front. He rings me up, hands me my coffee, and I walk to the “condiment” bar for cream. There’s my NBF, the man that’s been up for three days. He’s got two extra large cups, and appears to be traveling alone.

“I’m going to miss the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that’s all over the East Coast,” he says. This tells me two things: 1) He is not from Portland, and 2) He doesn’t know squat about good coffee, but his rumpled clothes and bed hair endear me to him anyway.

“I’m going there now,” I say, “to the East Coast.”

“Oh yea? Where?” he asks.

“New York,” I say.

“Ah, New York is great,” he tells me.

“Where you on the East Coast for business?” I ask.

“My mom died. I was there for her funeral, so yes, I guess you could say, ‘business’.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I say, and while I take off the lid of my coffee to add the cream that he is now done with, and is handing me, I spill the whole cup all over the counter.

“Here,” he says, extending one of his extra-large coffees with cream to me, “I’ve got an extra.”

“Oh no, I can’t do that to you! You’ve been up for three days! You need both of those! I’ll just go get a refill, it’s fine, I’ve got lots of time.”

I go up to the counter and ask for a rag to clean up my mess, explaining that I’ve spilled my coffee all over the place.

“Oh, we’ll get that,” the man says, taking my cup and refilling it, handing it back and saying, “no charge.”

I find a table, set up my computer, check e-mail and sip my coffee. Already the kindness of strangers has me wrapped in a warm embrace.

And then, when I board the plane, the flight attendant smiles warmly, welcomes me and points me to my seat. On her neck? A strand of pearls.

* Photo from


Suzy said...

See how easy it is to travel???



Anonymous said...

Your path to NYC is paved with light, kind people, grace and love. Have a wonderful trip. I suspect you will start seeing those signs all over.


riversgrace said...

Following you in thought, deed, and prayer.

Safe travels, fabulous connections, and god-speed.


marge said...

Glad to have you out here on the East Coast. Welcome to your adventure. Lots of positive thoughts for you on Monday.

Good Night and sleep tight.

Jenny said...


I love this post! I totally felt like I was on the adventure with you the whole way.

non coffee drinker said...

Don't diss Dunkin Donut Coffee.........supposedly it's great.

Go Mama said...

You're on your way!

Samantha said...

Thanks for the informative post. I dread things like this sometimes. It's rather confusing. What I do is just run my computer through a computer check up at one of those free websites like

Jerri said...

My experience is that the path lays itself out in front of you when you're following your heart.

Not always easy, of course, but always filled with exactly the people and experiences you need.

Godspeed, Carrie. Safe travels.

La La said...

Yay. Can't believe I missed this post yesterday. I must have needed to refresh my browser because I kept checking back to your site for a new post!

Thinking of you! And, yes, I'm with Jenny, this post is awesome. We were right there with you.

laurel said...

super super!!!!!
enjoy this adventure-pearls and all!

grammer said...

you're a great storyteller. xo