I barreled around in creamy down. I was as astonished about the uncustomary fluff as I was the first time I actually ran the mile. In 4th grade I had been a corpulent child and my most accelerated gait was a slow walk. And that was ambitious. In 5th grade the class had to compose goals for the year. One of mine was to complete the mile in 11 minutes or less. The first run I was surprisingly physically capable of jogging and terminated the four laps in 8 minutes and 50 seconds. Over the previous year my limbs had extended like Jessica Simpson's lips and our family had procured a devil dog. Every time the dog escaped (at least once a day), my mom requested that I chase after her. Chasing the dog, supplemented by growing a few inches, I lost as much weight as Kirstie Alley and felt fantastic. That was the year I adapted from Fat Goalie to Field Runner.
It took me minutes to discern that I was not truly in a cloud, but a luscious bed. I bound from bed blithe that I would be in San Francisco in fifteen hours.
The Sheraton, supposed to provide a shuttle to the airport, refused to do so unless ten people or more required a ride. My scheme to arrive at the airport at 9am for an 11am flight was annihilated like Hiroshima. We waited an hour and fifteen minutes for the appropriate numbers. I entered the airport at 10:20am.
First blockade: departure tax. I had paid the day before and received the sticker. However, the sticker had become invalid because I had already used it. As the system was electronic I had to go back downstairs, reactivate the sticker, and then return. Time elapsed: twelve minutes.
Second barricade: security. I confidently clumped through security, praising the airlines for having checked me in at 1am and already obtaining my bags. The security officer demanded I stand aside for some minutes. They removed the bottle of wine in the sealed bag I had purchased from the Duty Free Shop the day prior.
"You can't take this in. It's liquid."
"But I bought it yesterday in the Duty Free Shop when I was stuck in the airport for eighteen hours. It's a gift for my mom. It's sealed in the bag the Shop put it in. It's not my fault South America doesn't want me to leave and canceled my flights twice. I need that wine for my mom!"
After speaking to seven different people in fifteen minutes it was concluded that I had to continue to my fight without the wine. My love gift for my mom was lost, and I was as disappointed as I imagined I would be if I were a penguin - a bird that can't fly. Time elapsed: fourteen minutes. My flight departed in ten minutes.
Third obstacle: customs. I inserted myself in the shortest line: behind two twenty-something males. In retrospect, this was as astute as George W. Bush asserting, "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family" (Greater Nashua, N.H., January 27, 2000). The first approached the desk and then attempted to locate his passport. I stood, rigid, passport in hand, staring at the wall clock, willing it to move slower. Finally he perceived it in his back pocket. Don Juan was next. He had his passport, but not the entrance/exit paper required to leave the country. I exhaled loudly and tapped my foot, hoping this would be code to the customs worker to ask him to step aside while she registered me. This didn't happen. I shot Don Juan a glance as welcoming as Hitler to the Jews and ducked under the lane divider. My backpack caught and impelled my weight backward. I clattered to the carpet as gracefully as Gerald Ford, the line dividers plummeting with me. The hollow metal stands and thin retractable flexible dividers entangled me. I emitted a grumble redolent of a cow's and propelled myself to my feet. I wordlessly strode directly to the front of another line. Time elapsed: six minutes. My inaugural airport run ensued.