I long ago accepted that I have no ability to get a horizon straight while piloting the car. And straightening the horizon here at the airport (for I am now on my way) would mean losing that curly-headed cow in the bottom right corner, which clearly cannot happen.
After I'd checked in, I called my parents to tell them thank you for having taught me one very simple lesson (among all the others they taught me): always ask. My originally ticketed itinerary--involving an extra leg for no apparent reason (other than the cheaper initial cost of the ticket, which is why I selected it)--was highly likely to make me miss my flight to London tonight, so I asked politely at the ticket desk whether I could be rebooked for a direct flight to my international departure city. "If it were a domestic flight, I'd say no," the ticket agent said. "But since you're flying international, it will make everything easier for all of us if we make sure that you don't miss that connection in Charlotte."
And so, five minutes later, I was good to go, having reduced my number of flights (and my number of low-level worries today) by one. Now I can settle in with my short stack of books and my short stack of DVDs and pass the time before I'm London-bound through this hazy day.
* * *
Funny things are happening all along the way: the man at the bar who doesn't know where he is, having just arrived in Charlotte en route to somewhere else. "What state are we in?" he asks me. "North Carolina," I tell him. For some reason, this episode strikes me as all too unsurprising, given how little it can seem to matter where you are, while you're going somewhere else. We all get carded before we can get our drinks, and this newcomer (clearly over 21) does not hide his bemusement. It is clear that he's unsure of whether to be offended, annoyed, or flattered.
Earlier, a man sitting at a table with his wife has seemed to be talking to her, only to turn out to be talking on his iPhone, by way of the in-ear headset. I compile small groups of rules for proper mobile phone use. Top of the list: perhaps reconsider talking on the phone, using a headset, while eating lunch with your wife in an airport.
Waiting to leave Columbus, I set my watch ahead. Now it is 10:11 p.m. I find myself thinking, "I won't be able to take pictures as we leave Charlotte because it's nighttime."
I will eat dinner at midnight. I will try to get six hours of sleep. In the morning, I will arrive in one of my favorite places.