Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cross Country Reunion


The trip described below occurred about five years ago. I wrote about it this week for a writing class.

Coats, hats, shoes, belts and bracelets came off. Pockets were emptied, coins, tissues, keys and small paraphernalia deposited in a dish, suitcases heaved onto the conveyor belt. Finally ready to walk through the airport detection booth, we slowly made our way along the line of passengers leaving for vacation, flying home following vacation, visiting family, rushing off on business trips, travelers on the go.

At last it was our turn. Walk in, stand still, raise your hands, and walk out.
Again we approached the conveyor belt, eager to grab our bags and head for the gate. Quite a few other people also impatiently waited to retrieve belongings, staring at the black fabric ribbons at the edge of the sensor box, hoping their bags would be the next to appear.

A couple of TSA agents huddled around a computer screen, whispering and pointing.

“Whose suitcase is this?” an agent calls out as she points to the next bag coming into view.

“Oh, that’s mine,” Karen says, raising her hand to alert the agent.

“Over here,” she said in a stern voice, walking over to a table and throwing the bag down. “What’s in there? Open it.”

Karen and I look at each other. What could have triggered the monitor? We packed clothes and toiletries for three days in Las Vegas. Nothing suspicious, carefully avoiding banned items such as scissors or containers of liquids larger than three ounces.

Karen opened the suitcase and the agent thrust her hands in, quickly moving around the small overnight bag. “What are these?” she asks, as if she did not know, pointing to several books.

“Books, they’re gifts,” Karen says, a bit perplexed.

“OK, you can go. We weren’t sure what that black mass was on the screen,” she says, walking back to her post.

Karen and I look at each other, stifling our laughter. We hastily gather our belongings languishing at the end of the conveyor belt and walk to our gate.

What a start to our reunion weekend!

An intermediate stop to change planes, entailing a mad search for ginger ale to calm Karen’s stomach – a futile quest - and several hours later we arrived at McCarran International Airport, gateway to Vegas.

Rob picked us up at the airport and we drove to the house. It was late and Barbara was asleep, needing lots of rest in preparation for her active young students the next morning. She was thrilled we were making this trip, Rob informed us, and so was he.

“Barb is feeling much better. Do whatever you girls want this weekend, but remember she tires quickly.”

“Don’t worry, we plan on spending a lot of time talking, eating, drinking wine, and I think we are getting manicures,” I said.

“We just want to hang out together. Now that you guys live way out West we rarely see you,” chimed in Karen.

“I am going to make myself scarce,” and he did.

We spent several hours in Barb’s first grade classroom, meeting her students and touring the private school. The kids had no idea that once a week after school she drove to a clinic for radiation treatments for breast cancer. But the staff knew, offering comfort and support during Barb’s months of treatments. They were glad to meet old friends from her previous life, here to visit and celebrate her journey back to good health.

We strolled through several shops, window-shopping and checking out the latest trends. We leisurely browsed a bookstore, a must stop for three bibliophiles. We splurged on manicures, ate out and prepared simple meals at the house.

One evening Karen and I demonstrated our dancing prowess, Karen twirling through plies, arabesques, releves and pirouettes, me belly dancing to our favorite 1960s oldies.
We drove to Red Rock Canyon, a few miles outside Vegas but light years from the neon lights, traffic and fast-pace of the metro area. We were likewise far-removed from the wet, raw Northeast early spring weather. We did not truly hike, walking along a path far enough to sit on a rocky ledge and view the stark, wild landscape.

On the ride home we detoured to Blue Diamond, population 290 according to the 2010 census, a town right out of a nineteenth century Western. The clapboard general store, next door to the horse corral, was stocked with obsolete and otherwise outdated but interesting merchandise. We sat on the porch, enjoying the balmy weather and movie-like setting, devouring ice cream.

We lounged around the pool, played with the two dogs, talking, gossiping and enjoying each other’s company. Our visits since Barb relocated to Vegas were usually short ones with spouses and other assorted family members tagging along. This time for three days three women who first met in the 1970s as young mothers recently moved to a new town reunited and renewed old friendships.

On the trip home TSA agents once again singled out Karen for inspection.

I am not so sure I want to travel with her again.

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