I went up to the ticket window as early as possible and went through security as early as possible. There were going to be no problems this time!
So, I'm biding my time, reading my book, and doing all that wonderful nonsense when I notice a distinct lack of motion around me. I decided to go check the departure board and it turns out that I was leaving through a different gate.
And not just a different gate, a different *set* of gates. Had to get a new ticket and swim through another set of security. At length I got there. If I were any kind of superstitious, I would've called Rebecca right then and said "Not coming. The universe commands otherwise."
Luckily, I'm not!
The flight was a blur. I think I ended up flying to Salt Lake City, transferring, and getting out to Memphis. Everyone on the flight was unremarkable, but my book was good at least.
I got off in Memphis. I knew I was going to have a bit of a wait before Rebecca could come and get me.
Memphis, as that picture suggests, is kinda strange. It's the perfect setting for a scene from The Stand or The Langoliers. It's possessed of this strange kind of loneliness. Part of it is the odd clocks hanging from the ceiling. Part of it is the brick construction. In searching out a bathroom to clean up a bit, I found something that made me realize just how stupid I am.
Here I am in the South and I have no idea about what tropical storms are due or how bad the weather's going to be. Way to go!
I decided to walk around the airport and get a feel for it. I walked right by a place called "Interstate Barbeque". I got a few storefronts down before my brain registered just how good that smelled and how long it had been since my last good meal. I turned right around and sat down, resigning myself to having my first taste of Southern barbeque in an airport restaurant.
A waitress came over and asked what I wanted. I ordered a beer and asked what was supposed to be good, foodwise. She mentioned that the pork is popular. I almost went with the pulled pork sandwich, but decided on the pork ribs instead.
"How big is a half rack?"
"It's eight bones."
"That's not going to be enough. Make it a full rack."
I don't remember what beer I had with it, but it was perfect.
I found various ways of killing time until Rebecca got there. Nothing too interesting. Eventually, I meandered out of security and sat outside the airport. It was deserted. Quiet as quiet gets. Good place to read.
Eventually she found the time to drive up and we had a heck of a time trying to describe where we were in the airport relative to each other. I guess she'd never been there before and distinctions like "upstairs" or "downstairs" didn't seem to work for her. She ended up on the lower level while I was on the upper level. We found each other and then began the drive home through one hell of a rainstorm and my first real look at the South.
The storm was bad enough that we pulled off the road for a little bit. Some cars stopped dead in the middle of the road because you simply couldn't see through the torrents of water coming down. At length, it let up enough and we continued on.
Roads in the South are interesting things. Not nearly as well lit as their counterparts on this coast. To the people who live down there, this is apparently a feature, not a bug. I mentioned this to someone towards the end of my trip and she said, "fewer lights mean they won't blind you."
(I've never been blinded by a street lamp -- I'm usually watching the road --, so I didn't have a lot to add to that.)
At length, we'd made it down the I-55 and over to a subdivision in Starkville. It was a two hour journey or so. Her housemate Micah wasn't around right then, due to an unfortunate piece of business, so Rebecca gave me my first taste of Southern living right after that -- a beer, a rocking chair out on the porch, and a nice, long chat. We had a lot of catching up to do -- we hadn't spoken for a while on the phone.
And here I noticed another interesting bit. As we were sitting out there, frogs -- teensy things scarcely larger than my thumbnail were wandering around.
Rebecca had had a long day. While I was overjoyed to have made it, I was ready to call it a day.
EDIT: I can't promise this will immediately get more exciting, but I'm working on it. ; )