I picked out my clothes the night before to save time.
I got out of bed when the first alarm went off, 15 minutes before the second alarm would tell me it was actually time to get out of bed.
I didn’t blow dry my hair this morning, praying to the gods of shortthat my bangs would cooperate and not air dry in some flying nun wing shape.
I used the old, leftover makeup that’s been scattered in the bottom of the giant makeup box for who knows how long, patting myself on the back for being resourceful and not having to unpack and repack the real makeup.
I made Jared’s breakfast while he was in the shower and packed up the cell phone chargers while the eggs cooked, shaving a few more seconds with my multitasking.
We didn’t stop for coffee, even though we used the last of ours yesterday. We’d just grab a cup at the airport once we were through security and killing time at the gate.
Jared drove more aggressively than I expected, making uncharacteristically quick decisions as he safely maneuvered through traffic without technically breaking any laws.
I checked us in for our flight from JetBlue’s mobile website.
When we pulled up to Adam’s, I went to the door and hollered for our ride while Jared moved the luggage from one car to another.
Adam drove the remaining 30 minutes to the airport the way he always does.
We arrived an hour early.
Plenty of time to drop off checked bags, make our way through security, and get to our gate.
Except – apparently everyone checks in online now, so the bag drop line inside and at the curb was longer than most full service lines. By about triple.
Sensing my rising anxiety as minutes ticked by, Jared left me in line and went to find a JetBlue worker. He reappeared seconds later and pulled me behind 3 families in a full service line. We checked our luggage a few minutes later, 10 minutes before the cut off point.
Crisis averted. And we managed a free seat upgrade in the process.
We booked it over to security, both of us patting Jared on the back for his Amazing Race-like resourcefulness.
And then we saw the mob where a security line should be. A sprawling throng of people stood motionless around the TSA agents perched at their pulpits.
I started to panic.
Our boarding time passed, and we were about three feet further into the mob. A clear line had yet to materialize.
Jared asked the people quasi-in-front-of-us what time they boarded. A few nods later and he was pulling me trough the crowd by my hand, a small band of also-boarding-at-7:30 travelers forming around us.
At 7:40 we were in a security line, preparing to take off our shoes.
“Who let you through here?”
A large, angry woman in a TSA uniform was glaring at me.
“I, uh…” I looked back in the direction I’d just come from and saw a familiar blond woman snapping an elastic rope back into place. She looked up and saw me staring, smiled and waved, happy to have helped this small group of strangers get on their way.
What I did not see was anyone who looked like they would have any sort of official authority to move elastic ropes.
“How did you get in here?” the angry woman barked at me again. Jared and the other runners were loading their shoes and bags into plastic buckets ahead of me, seemingly unaware of the interrogation going on behind them.
I plastered a look on my face that I hoped could be confused for “I don’t know” or “I don’t speak English” and started to take off my shoes, pushing as close to Jared as I could. I wasn’t going to get the other blonde in trouble, and I was suddenly terrified of being kicked to the back of the line for cutting.
A JetBlue employee, the one who had directed us to the faster line earlier, stepped behind me. By taking his place in line, he solidified mine. I filled my buckets as quickly as I could and waited for my turn to go through the metal detector.
Clear. No incident. Thank God.
Our plane was supposed to take off in 12 minutes. I prayed the doors would still be open as I grabbed my shoes and backpack from the conveyor belt and made a dash for the tram.
I turned back to the security line to find him standing with his shoes on, waiting for his backpack. His backpack was beyond the X-ray, but trapped by the small section of gate that encloses the first few feet of conveyor belt beyond the X-ray.
“Can you reach in and grab it?” I asked. He reached his arm in to demonstrate that there was no way.
“Ask someone?” I was beyond panicked now.
I saw the TSA agent manning the x-ray and conveyor button shake his head at Jared and then speak into the walkie-talkie on his shoulder.
Or seconds. Or minutes. It was hard to say which.
Finally, yet another TSA agent appeared to retrieve our backpack with rubber gloves. “This yours?” Jared nodded. “Follow me.”
More panic and indignation on my part because I knew there wasn’t an ounce of liquid or so much as a sharp pencil in that damn bag. A bunch of refrigerator magnets, a flip, and a camera lens that wouldn’t fit in my backpack. That was it.
Oh – and a very dangerous umbrella.
“Why is there so much metal in here?” she asked.
“What? Is there a limit on metal now?”
Jared shot me a shut the hell up or you’ll make it worse look. I struggled to hold back tears, which I do when it becomes obvious to me how not in control of a situation I am.
She pulled out the 77 magnets plastered with my face and blog URL. And no, that wasn’t fucking embarrassing at that point at all. Jesus.
“We’ll have to run this through again.”
Jared is finally given his bag and we run to catch the next tram. The doors open and we begin sprinting through the airport like characters in a really unrealistic romantic comedy. Our gate is the last one at the end of the terminal. Jared turns back to see me running behind him as fast as my much shorter legs can carry me.
“Go ahead, go!” I wave him on and keep running.
“At least I’m not the only one running!” a cheerful voice beside me huffs.
And I notice we aren’t running alone. A small group is running ahead of Jared and the cheerful huff belongs to a girl with cropped brunette hair and bleached bangs. I smile, oddly relieved by the company.
“Where you going?” she asks as we run, as if we were jogging buddies out for our morning run.
“New York!” I pant.
Maybe enough of us running has kept the doors open.
And then I see him. Standing just ahead of me in his gray trousers and light blue Oxford was the JetBlue agent who had saved us in two lines already this morning.
I heard him call ahead to a gate agent, “you’ve got a few running!” At the same time the announcement came over the PA that our flight had boarded and the doors were closed.
“107 or 109?” he asked as I ran past. I half expected him to toss me a cup of water.
He nodded and pointed to the gate where my husband was already handing over his boarding pass.
I handed my boarding pass to the gate agent and ran down the portable hallway, just in case.
I was wheezing by the time I flopped into my upgraded seat. But wheezing and leg cramping and all, we made it.
New York City, here we come.
Lesson learned: arrive at least 90 minutes prior to departure. They mean that shit.