I Missed My Flight and I Gained a Night
I sat with Ofer looking across the East River taking in the last few moments of our trip to New York for CMJ. I really didn't want to leave. He didn't either.
I pulled out my phone and requested an Uber. We figured we'd take a car instead of dealing with hauling our luggage through multiple transfers on what generally is a longer route to JFK. Unfortunately, thirty minutes later, Ofer first noticed that the ETA on Google Maps was not decreasing proportionally to the time we were spending in the car. In just one moment we had been swept from a cool breezy reflection on a fantastic trip to the harsh climate of our reality; we most likely were missing this flight.
I tried to keep cool, hoping that some of my zen-i-ness would rub off on my travel partner. Neither of us had missed a flight before and we had 45 minutes of traffic to sit through to see what would happen.
He must have pulled the phone out of his pocket 20 times throughout the trip to check the map.
I would be remiss not to say that before our moment of realization, I sort of teased Ofer out of checking in online by saying something like "there's no need to do that ever, you just go up to the kiosk. Its just as fast if not faster." Of course this would be the case in which it might have helped if we had actually checked in online.
We pulled up to terminal 8, thanked our driver for being aggressive yet safe, and rushed to a kiosk. Unfortunately the computer had no human feelings and coldly replied that we had missed our "check in window."
I should be clear that our flight was at 4:55 and we were inside the airport at 4:30. Now with a little bit of arithmetic here, we would have had 15 minutes to get through security and make it to our gate before they closed the door. It was a long shot, but it was possible I suppose.
After frantically seeking human help and then having our reality cemented into place, we stood in line to try to get on another flight. From JFK, and on American Airlines, there was only one trip per day to Austin and that flight was AA67 at 4:55pm. This meant that we would be placed on stand-by for another shot tomorrow.
Ofer had to get back for work but I didn't. I drive for Lyft, so I had the freedom to approach this little error with another perspective. He couldn't take the risk of being on standby for a flight the next day, potentially missing 2 more days than his employers expected of him. I, on the other hand, had the opportunity to view my situation as an extra night (or two) in New York.
Ofer bought a ticket for a flight that left later that evening, so we said our goodbyes and I got on the train back into the city. I was all alone in New York and I was happy.
My plan was to take the A and transfer at Broadway Junction to the L, so I could get to the Morgan stop. I stayed over there the first night with my friends Amanda and Lacy. I felt drawn to that area and very much welcomed, so I went back. I knew of a little coffee shop called Swallow Cafe where I could plug in my phone and get some thoughts down. I bought a hot coffee, because it was very cold by the way, and started to make a plan.
Moments before, I'd had a cigarette with an older man outside the shop. I wish I could remember his name but I don't and I won't try to guess it now. He was from Oslo, newly single, and on some sort of business trip that could easily be confused for a vacation as he described it to me. He told me that he was staying at an Airbnb nearby, with multiple separate rooms that were very cheap. Something around $40, which sounded fair to me considering I had just spent $33 on an Uber that almost got me to my flight. We exchanged info and he said he'd let me know after he talked to the owner. I thanked him.
Sitting inside, I looked at other options. I reached out to Keith's cousin Mandy whom I met earlier on the trip and felt very fond of. I texted Lacy as well, she so sweetly granted my request for a couch if I needed one, but she wasn't home and I wanted to put my bags down so I could enjoy the night.
As the coffee shop was closing this crew of hip my-age types strutted in and greeted the barista, inviting him to come out to their show that evening. I butted in and asked for some details. "We're playing with our friends from Austin, they're in a band called Hikes."
With Hikes being my friends as well, I explained to who I now knew as Caroline that I was also from Austin, and was close with those guys. She told me to hop in their van, so I did without much hesitation. I had been waiting for direction on where my night was headed and it found me all alone in a coffee shop on a cold night in Bushwick.
With my bass and my bag sitting next to me, I smiled in the back of a dark unfamiliar van with my new friends. We began having fun, sharing stupid and silly sentiments the way you do when you're getting to know people. At this moment, I felt very loved by this unknowable force that keeps helping me and pushing me in the right direction.
I love being alone, wandering, having loose plans. Its so freeing and so wonderful. I think trying to orchestrate your life is somewhat like being in a room filled with doors, standing right in front of one, waiting for it to open while the others open and close just right next to it.
We arrive at The Cake Shop after making a brief stop to pick up some gear (guitars, amps and such.) I see Baylor standing at the door, who's traveling with Hikes, and explain to him how I got there, and how happy I was to be there. This story was repeated a few times throughout the night. There were quite a few friends there, some I had known and some I was now getting to.
The music was powerful and soul-piercing. I watched Alaska and was moved by their energy. I closed my eyes while Hikes played a fantastic set, and was reminded of the incredible power of a collaborative live performance. All of these parts moving in every which way personally, temporally, melodically, and structurally to create one whole piece. One message. Its such a good example of how our souls work together on this planet. Watching a band like Hikes stand up on stage, loving the music and loving each other, is incredible.
My new friends Fruit&Flowers were next. After the sound engineer forgot the turn the mics on and then remembered to, Caroline and crew proceeded to play the type of rock and roll that reminded me of my original interest in music. Shaking off this cosmic sleep and remembering what we came to this planet for. Transformation. Reconnection. I stood dancing in the front with the Hikes boys.
The night kept going in such a delightful way. We ended up at an already closed Muchmore's in Brooklyn drinking off the kindness of the bartendress (I believe her name was Jess.) I met a broken hearted boy named John and we talked about how good it was to be honest. Caroline and her boyfriend Rich took me to the roof and we talked and smoked and finished beers until 4am.
I woke up around 12:30pm after lazily rolling around for maybe 20 minutes of alarm snoozing. One of Caroline's roommates had just come through the door so I thought it would be best that I wake and chat with her. I was, after all, a stranger on the couch. Its only polite to make conversation with your hosts.
After my shoes were tied up and I had brushed my teeth one full "Happy Birthday"s long, I headed out to grab a coffee and get on the train to JFK. From where I was, it would take about 1hr and 10 minutes without fuck ups to get to the airport. I sat waiting, knowing full well that I was on standby and that I might be heading right back into town for another night.
I stood through a long line at security that went surprisingly fast and headed to Gate 36 to await my fate. I spoke to the attendant at the desk and she said she'd do her best to get me on the oversold flight back home. "You never know, you might get on."
Sitting in one of those little airport waiting chairs I ate a salad and kept my consciousness high, knowing that even if I didn't get on the plane, it would be for the best. Across the gate a younger red headed man wearing a blue hat with a "B" on it starts yelling at an older man sitting next to him. At first, because of the age difference and peculiar nature of the disturbance, it seemed more like a son joking around with his father. A few words and seconds later, it became clear that this was actually a real confrontation.
One man uninvolved with the struggle begins filming with his cellphone. "This fucking kike is taking up five seats with his luggage! Can you believe this shit? You think you can just fucking do what ever you want?" The man in the blue hat was without support from the crowd. He eventually realized this and left before security arrived to escort him. Its hard to say what had come over him, he seemed possessed.
The attendant at the desk turned to me and said "you're gonna get that guy's ticket." I had a feeling...
I was the last to board because they had to utilize the trusty "process of elimination" in order to figure out who the angry guy was, so that I could have his ticket. I was happy to see the older man smiling with his wife before I was called to board the plane. He seemingly took some sort of cosmic punch for me so that I could get the angry guy's spot. I sent him a little "thank you" in my head.
As I walked down the aisle, finally aboard AA67, I couldn't help but beam a great big smile at everyone in their seats. Somehow I was headed home after being given the gift of an extra night in New York. I sat down next to Diana and Paul, a school teacher and an engineer, and proceeded to have a special flight home. The flight attendant even snuck me two tiny bottles of Tito's...
Its important for me to convey that this whole thing could have been a misfortunate occurrence. In fact I don't recommend missing your flight every time, but every once in a while you should notice when you're being given a gift.