I scheduled myself a bright and early 6:15 a.m. flight to Boston. Although I could have fit everything in a carry-on sized bag, I chose to check it. After all, Southwest is one of the last big airlines to allow (not one, but two) free checked bags. Who could pass that up. My carry-on is so large it would have to be gate-checked anyway, I justified. Besides, I relished the idea of carrying a whole bottle of face wash instead of squeezing some into a tiny bottle to be shoved into a zip lock bag for the security of Americans everywhere.
Free checked bags were once expected. Now they’re rare. In this case, I got what I paid for. The plane stopped in Chicago to dump off most of its passengers and refill with a fresh batch. When it finally arrived in Boston, I was feeling slightly queasy (I must be getting old) and extremely hungry. I marched down the terminal with the guidance of the Baggage Claim signs overhead. I couldn’t stop grinning. I haven’t seen Meredith in five months, our longest stretch apart since we met. The aerial view of Boston was beautiful. I predicted falling in love with New England.
I joined a crowd around baggage carousel #1. The screen didn’t announce the flight that would be unloading. It only listed flights that were upcoming.
“Is this it?” asked a girl next to me.
“Were you on the plane from St. Louis?”
“Oh, yeah, I assume this is it. At least, I hope it is.”
It was, but we were in for a long wait. After delivering about a fourth of the passengers’ luggage, the carousel was empty. Eventually a voice came over the intercom. It informed us that our bags might be stuck on the conveyor belt. Groans and grumblings erupted. The man next to me was irate, which I thought was pointless. Time wore on. I was hungry, and eager to see Meredith. To make our wait more pleasant, some sort of siren started blaring. People looked around but didn’t seem too concerned, so I held my ground.
Finally, an airport employee had to climb down the baggage chute and drag each piece of luggage up individually. I grabbed my bag as soon as it rolled up. But Boston Logan Airport wasn’t done with me yet. The automatic door was busted. I could see Meredith’s rented ZipCar sitting outside, but I couldn’t get to it. The man behind me took action. He body-checked the door and forced it open.
I’m pretty sure the song “Chariots of Fire” played as Meredith and I slow-motion rushed to greet each other. I had arrived.