Up and out. Woke at 6:30, cracked the whip, and we were on the road by 7. Jose had a secret route to the airport, although he was peeved that others had discovered his path. It wound through the mountain and dropped us off on the freeway, which was comparable to American roads. Just not as wide. He gave a travelogue en route, as he had the entire time: the man knows his town, and loves it. After half an hour we were at the Barcelona airport, is a modern European beauty.

Again, the feeling I mentioned at the start of this journey: Airport Zen, where everything still works, where the world of the borderless technological-marvelous homogenized stratum of civilization is settled and content and provides all you need. And you don’t need much.

I should note that we had to check in on KLM (uh huh uh huh uh huh) even though it was a Delta flight, because they were Partners. Sky Partners, or something. I hadn’t been able to check in the night before because of this, something that always makes me think oh crap. But it took but a minute, and we were assured our bags would travel straight through. Perfect! Everything had settled into the groove, like a cable car finding the hook that pulls it to its final stop.



Hmm: looks like we'll never be landing.

We boarded, and arranged our little areas for the journey. The stew cracks the mike. The stewardess . . . apologizes.


Well, it seems we would be delayed because of “air traffic,” because I guess a couple dozen planes had just showed up like company that drops over unannounced. Surprise! They knew this ahead of time, too, but boarded us so we’d be ready to roll.

The delay would last fifty - “Five Oh” she said - minutes, at a minimum.

So we sat.

It was okay. We had an hour and 35 minutes layover in Schiapol. This would cut it close, but 45 minutes would be enough time. More than enough time.

Fifty-five minutes later . . . we were off, banking over the Mediterranean.

As we approached Amsterdam, the stew listed the connecting flights that would not make it, due to a “missed connection,” a rather passive euphemism that doesn’t ascribe responsibility. We were not one of them. I called up the map for the airport to see where we would land, and where we had to go.

Looks easy, eh? Blue dot to blue dot?

I am here to tell you that the map is a lie.

“We’ll just look at the signs,” Natalie said. “You don’t need to give yourself agita figuring it out now.”

“Well, it helps if I know where I’m going,”

“It’s an airport. There will be signs. We’ll be fine.”

I am here to tell you that we were not, in fact, fine.

It took a while to get through D, because the airport is fargin’ huge, and when we turned the corner to look for E there was a sign that pointed to all the other gates. But there was no E in sight - it was waaaay far away. I checked the boards for the flight:


Crap crap crap

We hit automated passport control, which is the maddening roadblock that adds time, and here I was starting to think we were in peril. The passport agent manning the line told us which direction E laid, and Natalie asked how far? Our plane is boarding.

The passport agent gave us a sad smile.

“You’d better run,” he said.

And so we ran. She did really good, considering her backpack was about 60 pounds. We ran left and juked right and shot around people and pounded hard down the motorized walkways and ran and panted and ran and . . . there it was! E7! And there were still people in line! Oh, frabjous day! My anxiety evaporated and I had the certainty of home in my heart again. I would have preferred a gentle stroll, to explore the airport, to buy a coffee, to be civilized, but this will do.

One of the amusing sights after beeping my passport was a basket of all the COVID paperwork for non-US citizens, which I imagine was discarded the moment the doors closed. I doubt it’s digitized and fed into a Very Important Database.

Big plane. Seated in row 44. Ready to go? Nay; an aged fellow in 47 was having a medical episode. The person sitting next to him had alerted the crew that the man looked unwell. The flight attendants agreed, and told the man that they did not think he should go, lest he, you know, die over the Atlantic. It took a while to convince him. Eventually he realized that the plane was not going to leave with him on board, and they wheeled him out.

That was that: up and out for the last time.

Eight hours and 20 minutes in the air. The first order of business was dinner (underwhelming chicken, with those damned wooden implements that make everything dry and woody-tasting, and ice cream). I spent two hours working on photos and listening to music I hadn’t heard in years - the Godley & Creme Ismism album, some Al Stewart (really), Be-Bop Deluxe, Anthony Phillips’ beautiful “Geese and the Ghost." In other words, the “70s progressive” playlist.

Found a folder of some archive.org finds I’d hoovered up, and set about cleaning them up. Wide awake, 30,000 feet over the Atlantic, cleaning up the 1894 Washburn Crosby catalogue.

And that, dear readers, was that. It was everything! London, Dishoom with Daughter, Walbers, a speech, the Anchor, and an adventure in a new city. Peak of the year, I think -

But no. As we'll see. Thank you for reading, and I'll see you next week, when regularly Bleatage resumes.





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