Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stuck In The Middle

From a distance I could see that gate B95 was  suspiciously vacant. I sprinted awkwardly for the ticketing desk,  my overstuffed carry-on bags flopping about on either side, drawing the ire of a few more responsible travelers whom I clip on the way by.

"Did they already board for Missoula?"  I plead frantically, as if asking will somehow alter that now plainly obvious reality.

"Yes, they're backing up now. We'll have to put you on the next flight."

"And when is that?"

"7:00 tonight."

I left my house at 6:45 AM this morning - Eastern Standard. I've spent the last 3 hours in the massive pit of angst that is the Denver International Airport. I want to scream at the gate attendant, but I restrain. What's done is done. She hands me my new boarding pass and I read a scheduled departure of 7:07 PM. I turn toward the flight screen to find my gate, having already been burned once by the incessant shuffling caused by weather delays at a major airport. It is snowing steadily outside and nearly every incoming and outgoing flight here has been canceled or delayed by several hours, including the one I just missed.

Flight 5515Y, Denver to Missoula
Scheduled depart 7:07 PM  
Now departing 8:24 PM

Well, fuck me.

I find the nearest wall outlet and sulk in a comical pile of charger cords and touch screens, bitching to anyone who will listen, placing blame, looking and sounding an awful lot like the over-priveleged, guiltless middle American that I love to loathe. I catch myself, and after taking a second to reconstruct my worldview I slide down in my seat, close my eyes and begin refining my Double Spey.

It is not long before my stomach starts barking. It is voicing its disapproval of the hasty travelers diet it has been fed. Fish tacos topped with sour cream and sprinkled with Tobasco (a proven digestive disaster that I can't seem to stay away from). Fries with that? Yes please! A couple sugary sports drinks to combat the altitude-induced dehydration.  And one very hoppy pale ale. 

Maybe I should request an aisle seat...

The prevailing opinion amongst my 20-30 something peers is that Denver is about the most happenin' & awesomest place you could ever imagine. They flock here as if sagebrush grew leaves of gold. There are mountains and trout streams and killer skiing. There is bad ass Mexican food and weed "dispensaries"on every corner - far out! There is wind energy and human energy and an enthusiasm for life outdoors. & perhaps most attractive of all, there are sports teams that actually win now and then. 

Inside these walls though there is none of that. Trapped in a vast complex of shrink-wrapped conveniences and people movers shuffling along anxious strangers, I imagine this may well have been Lucas' inspiration for the Death Star. I've been to three different Starbucks in this  concourse alone. I imagine that there must literally be several miles of carpet covering the floor. Outside the endless bays of windows there are no mountains, no high desert; only a wall of white, temporarily fractured every few minutes by the arrival of another 747. In here, the fly rods under my seat won't do me much good. 

All of this does, however, provide me some time to read and write - two things that I don't do enough of. I finish the latest copy of The Drake in about 8 seconds and as usual I'm left longing for more. At the news stand I pickup a copy of Rolling Stone because it features an interview with one of my new-age heroes, Louis C.K. I am especially struck by his take on parenting:

"It's narcissistic to try to give our kids a utopian life - when they leave your house, they're going to be in a world of shit. The only thing you can give your kids that's going to be of any use is a mechanism for dealing with  all the awful shit that's coming. Then, it won't be that awful. As a matter of fact, it will be great."

I imagine that for me, that mechanism is fly fishing. I finish the interview, close my eyes again, and go back to working on my double spey.

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