Many people think that the quintessential Alaskan experience involves salmon or midnight suns, but really it is about the red eye. To get anywhere from Anchorage, Alaska usually means an over night flight. A good one takes you close to your destination. A bad one leaves you sleeping on the floor near your next flight’s departure gate. My husband says you aren’t an Alaskan if you haven’t spent the night in an airport. I am an Alaskan many times over.
My flight left at 9:45PM. During the middle of the flight, I dropped my phone into the dark emptiness under my seat. As I have aged, my ability to get small and turn about in an airplane seat has decreased dramatically. This means I have no photograph of the majestic morning over Minneapolis that I was graced with. A one inch streak of an orange pink sunrise over dozens and dozens of lakes each filled with the moving clouds from above them. The experience may well have converted me from the freedom of the aisle to the spectacle of the window.
The first leg of my journey is a good one-Anchorage to Minneapolis– a solid five hours in the air. I arrive at 5:45 AM which is 2:45 AM Alaska time. This early morning arrival is not reasonable, but it is do-able. My eyes burn and the coffee tastes bitter at this strange hour.
I see the woman with the toddler survived the flight. I think to myself, wait until you have three, and one of them is a runner. But those days are behind me– my boys are all sleeping as I wander for food at daybreak. I find an Einstein’s and place my order. My connecting flight is on time.
My body questions the situation. My thoughts are loose–there is a a faint buzzing noise in my ear. I am sensitive to sounds and smells, but eventually my flesh accepts that a nod in a tiny seat flying through a night sky is all the rest available for this day.
I pretend I haven’t spent the night in the clothes I am wearing. I clean my teeth with my tongue. I attempt a discreet yoga pose while my knees remind me just how old I am. I lug myself towards Pittsburg.
The second flight is hard. The woman next to me has bright red permed hair, wears a Harley Davidson hoody, and reeks of her vacation in Las Vegas. She packs a camouflage duffle under the seat with authority. It is a small plane fully packed with humans. I console myself with the fact that there are no loud talkers.
I do believe I have arrived at my final destination.
I share a shuttle with a cluster of librarians. At first, they mistake me for one of their own. I am honored and sad to disappoint them. Eavesdropping was delicious. I think a librarian conference might be as much fun as Quilt Festival or a SAQA Event.
I arrive at the Hotel Indigo located in the East End neighborhood of Pittsburgh. This is the view from my room.
And this is the bed that holds the sleep I crave. I resist temptation. I must power through the red eye, make the four hour time zone leap, and accept the twelve hour journey as part of the adventure.
I am here for Fiberart International 2016.
And losing a night’s sleep is totally worth it to Be Here Now.