3:30 am and the phone is ringing on the nightstand. On the other end (do wireless phones still have ends?) is Ms. Kluender. After a weekend in Boston she is heading to NYC to begin a media junket that will end on Thursday in LA.
“I’m here and about to board.”
“Have a safe flight. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
Dead air. I miss the click that phones used to produce. Unable to sleep, I read for another hour before crawling back to bed.
8:30 am and the phone is ringing again. Ms. Kluender is hurried, rattling off the events of the past few hours like a one-sided Aaron Sorkin conversation. I’m confused since she should be on her way to meetings that are scheduled to last until at least my noon. That’s when we are supposed to talk next. My head clears slowly as she lays new details without waiting for the slightest comprehension from my end.
“…so after an hour and half we finally board. I pass out asleep and wake up to the PA system asking for an EMT, paramedics, or a doctor. I realize we have not taken off and I look at my watch. It’s 9:30, two and half hours from our scheduled takeoff and now we are heading back to the gate because a woman fainted somewhere at the front of the plane.”
Her pace picks up.
“Fuck. It slipped out before I realized but at least I kept it under my breath because when I look up I’m sitting next to a priest.”
“A real priest?”
“Head to toe…and the plane heads back to the gate, baby crying the whole thing. We eventually roll out to the tarmac and I pass out again, trying to rest up before the meetings. Since we lost our original spot, we wait there for what must have been an hour because after going in and out of sleep I wake up when we land at 11:30. When I saw my watch I said it again. Fuck, but a whisper this time since I remembered the priest was next to me.”
That’s when I realize she is still on the plane. Taxiing to the gate. She’s wound tight, always is when she’s behind schedule. As if the NYC weather and lightheadedness of a passenger reflects poorly on her decision-making.
“It’ll be ok. It’s not your fault. Just a bit of a cluster.”
“Well I gotta go. Call you when we break this afternoon.”
“Love you too. Hugs to the cats.”
No click, just more dead air. Time to wake up.
Ms. Kluender told the cabbie that he had 30 minutes to make it from Newark to Columbus Circle. He laughed, she insisted, guess who won?
She recalls the final details in an early afternoon email. Ms. Kluender’s streak stays alive as she signs off heading to another reception. “I am always on time.”