I usually don't sleep well the night before I have to get up early for travel, especially when the danger of accidental death by stray gun play is substantially elevated, and last night was no exception. Because of our early morning flight, we decided to get a cheap motel near the Tampa airport last night and drove up from Sarasota after having dinner with the Florida contingent of Deborah's family. It was a little bit too cheap of a motel, as we knew almost as soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the Extended Stay* America about 9 PM and saw all manner of vagrants and undesirables wandering about the property (this is only a slight exaggeration).
Deborah was afraid to touch any exposed surfaces in the motel room and we both washed our hands obsessively before getting into bed. The bedclothes appeared visually to be clean, but I kept imagining bed bugs lurking in the recesses of the closet and dresser, waiting for us to turn off the light so they could come and deprive us of our precious bodily fluids.
Sleep was fitful in the tiny double bed (it was advertised as a queen) of the sh!tty motel, and although I did have dreams, they were mostly of the bad variety, centered on being late for the airport, with all manner of obstacles in my path, and forgetting to do important things, like getting the dogs to the kennel ahead of time, even though this was our return trip home (interestingly, the dogs in the dream were ones that have long since passed on to Doggy Heaven, but dream red flags like this never seem to register when they are happening).
I think I woke up every hour on the hour to look at my phone and make sure I didn't miss the 5 AM alarm, even though Deborah also had a redundant alarm set. Thanks to the regular daily meditation practice I have been doing for the past several months (although, in full disclosure, I was remiss on it during this vacation), I was able to will myself back to sleep each time. Of course, I woke up three minutes before the alarm went off and just got up, because eff it. Deborah got up too and we high tailed it out of that literal rat hole to the airport.
Once we had returned the rental car to Alamo, everything started to go pretty smoothly according to standard airport conventions. We got Deborah a wheelchair at check-in, which expedited our passage through security and got us early boarding onto the plane, or what I loosely call "rockstar privileges." Arriving in Concourse E a good 90 minutes before our Delta flight departed from Gate E71, thanks in good measure to these rockstar privileges, we sought foodstuffs and chose a place called Columbia Cafe to fill our bellies. We ordered omelettes, which were mostly filled with potatoes, and after we ate, I supplemented my breakfast with a Starbucks coffee to help clear my lingering case of foghead, a condition highly correlated with lack of sleep. Deborah also had a case of foghead, but chose to cure hers with actual sleep. We are on the plane, up in the sky, as I write this and Deborah is dozing with her head on my shoulder (aw, how cute!).
The first leg of our flight is about three hours long, between Tampa FL and Minneapolis MN. That's a bit of a backtrack since we are ultimately destined for Madison WI, but it's not that bad. A diabolically wily Madison resident on this plane might successfully cheat the system by causing an in-flight disturbance when the plane is passing over Madison, gambling that this might force the pilot to divert the plane to the Madison so the passenger could get home sooner. However, there are very few selfish, douchebaggy Trump supporters who live in Madison, so I am not counting on getting home earlier than scheduled, which is at about 2:45 PM.
Deborah's nephew Josh is slated to retrieve us when we arrive in Madison. Then we'll go over to our friend Sherry's house and collect our doggies, my Foster and Deborah's misbehavin' Maddie, before decompressing at home at the conclusion of our travel day. It happens to be Valentine's Day, but we are postponing our romantic celebration of it until the weekend, mostly because most of today was lost to travel, but also to avoid the hordes of love addled couples who will be out effing everything up tonight. Am I too cynical? Yes. Yes I am. But I'll spin it into a positive...Deborah and I get to have a full Valentine's Weekend, not just a single, partial day of it (and a school night at that). The plan, which fills me with raw terror, is to go shop for Deborah's symbolic engagement ring, a task I have been dreading, but also would like to put behind me. Don't get me wrong, I love Deborah and want to marry her, but the ring thing is going to have bank account repercussions for some time to come, I'm sure, and this goes against all my instincts about frugality and good money management - instincts that have allowed me to live as a free agent in the cosmos for some while now. I just don't want my free agency thwarted by a severe dip in cash flow that might hasten my eventual need to work for THE MAN again. Deborah knows this though, and she is remarkably understanding. So we are going to shop around to get the "best value" on the ring design she has in mind, and she is going to trade in her old diamond ring from her previous marriage to help offset the cost. I will hold off on getting a wedding ring of my own until after we are actually married (no frills, courthouse style).
Whilst sitting at the gate in Tampa waiting for our flight, I researched waterless urinals. That might seem like a weird thing to research, but I was curious. I have seen these things here and there, and whilst I was micturating in a non-waterless urinal at the airport, it occurred to me that waterless urinals must have a raison d'etre, and furthermore they must have some special design to operate in a way that is superior to non-waterless urinals.
It turns out they are pretty simple and genius. In a regular non-waterless urinal, the solution to pollution is dilution, as they say.** The pee mixes with water and when the urinal is flushed, the pee is carried into a curved pipe that acts like an air lock, preventing fumes from coming back up through the pipe. In a waterless urinal, the drain is replaced with an oil filled cartridge. Because oil is lighter than water, the pee is passively "flushed" as it flows under the oil due to the laws of physics and the end result is the same, there is a barrier preventing the pee smell from coming back out (with the exception of the thin film of pee coating the urinal walls, but presumably this is minimal). The oil cartridge in a waterless urinal needs to be replaced after several hundred uses or so, but saves a ridiculous amount of water. So it's a good way to avoid punching Mother Nature in the stomach.
We made it home fine. I did a grocery run whilst Deborah sorted mail and opened the plethora of packages that were piled up on our doorstep (they arrived today, apparently...good timing).
I made us a Valentine's Day dinner of coconut curry with vegetables and tofu. We watched some Walking Dead. I was exhausted from lack of sleep and turned in after that.
*Note: I pity anyone who has to extend their stay at such a place.
**Note: I actually know of no more than one person, a university professor years ago, who ever said this.