Today I am traveling.

My bag, a bright red duffle, weighs 48.5 pounds. I will be gone from my closet for approximately five days. Also approximately, you could say that this works out to me needing 10 pounds worth of crap to wear every day, including shampoo, deodorant, and a layer of mineral makeup. No, the makeup isn’t made of IRON BARS, smart ass. I have three pairs of boots, a gallon of Chex Mix, and five pounds of delicious coffee in my bag too. I have outfits, fully accessorized, plus some extra outfits if I so happen to feel differently that day or I spill coffee on myself. I am an Overpacker, and I admit this with no shame. It relaxes me to bring OPTIONS. Oh, damn. I forget a computer cord and a hair dryer. It always bothers me more than it should when I forget things. I remind myself that I am not going to East Timor today, and that the United States has many many opportunities to buy things you might need.

When I arrived this morning at the Seattle airport I was fairly dismayed to note the very extremely bad long line for check-in. This is when the 48.5 lb. bag is a liability; there is no human way to shove that sucker through security. They would cavity-check me in revenge if I tried. The line wound past the counters, down the hall, around the corner, and allll the way down another hall. I had never seen anything like it. As I had only an hour and 15 until my flight, I figured I had deep trouble with this line, would miss the plane, would spend hours trying to get another one, fail, or pay a huge amount of money to get on another airline. I stood actually with my mouth a bit agape, similar to most of the other people in the line, like drugged and corralled cows uncertain of what is happening, but knowing it ain’t too good. Fortunately, my husband, who had no reason to be upset and panicked as he was not traveling, used his brain. He excused himself from the line, and returned with a confident stride a few moments later. He motioned for me to LEAVE THE LINE. ORLY? Hmmmmm. He nodded, and I walked out with the Jolly Red Bag, my fellow passengers looking very curiously at me.

“What?” I said.

“Curbside check-in, “ he said.

“OHHHHHHHHH,” I ohhhhhh’d.

We made our way to the oddly deserted curbside desk, and a pleasant and tall young man in a silly hat took my bag, my fifteen dollars for the privilege of checking a bag these damn days, tagged it, checked me in, gave me my boarding passes, and that was that.

As I now strode confidently and all smiles past The Line That Had Not Moved Even A Bit, I saw the man I had been standing next to in The Line stare at me as if he had large question and exclamation marks over his head, like this: ??!!??!!?? Poor guy. I made my plane with a few minutes to spare.

I watched though my little window as over the hours the sun began to fade and dim, with a wonderful and unusual sunset in Minneapolis. It was as wide as I could possibly view; a long perfectly horizontal line of thick neon red at the bottom, fading up to orange and yellow and white, then into the blue and purple and black of the night sky. Two planets shone like bright little pebbles, the moon in perfect detail in the icy cold and clear sky. I remember that sky in the winter and the feel of the crackling air that hurt to breathe as it hung at 10 degrees or so. Clean and cold and sharp and knife-like, with snow on the ground that sparkles and snaps under your feet. I think how I do not miss that, and that if you live in a place where your normal weather could actually KILL YOU if you hang out in it too long, that you are probably living in a place that people should not BE. It is beautiful, but uncivilized. Bah.

Deplane in Minneapolis, hit the bathroom, then grab a tuna salad sandwich, some chips, a brownie, and a water and shove it down rather quickly and uncomfortably, and get back to the gate just as the plane is re-loading. This leg of the flight is not crowded and I have a whole row to myself. I have a long way to go yet, so I get a coffee as the attendant comes by, and enjoy it with the brownie, which I had saved in my bag.

“Are you enjoying that chocolate?” the flightress asks me.

I look at the brownie, sitting on the tray next to me, then at her. “Yup.”

“Did you make it yourself?” she smiles with big red lips.

I look at the brownie wrapper, sitting RIGHT NEXT to the brownie with a big yellow label that says CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN on it. “Um. No.” I smile gamely.

“Oh! Well! It looks good!” She rolls the cart another few feet up the aisle. This is a typical Midwestern type of interaction. It takes me a moment to roll with it.

The plane lights go off, I pull out my laptop, and begin to type this. Today I am traveling, 3000, one side to the other.