On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I boarded a plane for St. Louis, Missouri. I made it to the airport safely thanks to my dear friends and roommates Edwin and Caitlin. I arrived in plenty of time to sit and read the book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Literally, I read the WHOLE thing. I was sitting in the airport for almost three hours. Honestly, it wasn't that busy. At least not nearly as bad as one would expect for the day before a major family holiday. I sat on the far end of gate C9, in a stream of sunlight, reading my book. It was peaceful and quiet and I was rather enjoying my few moments of solitude. Then, a man in uniform pushed an elderly woman in a wheel chair my way and said, "Here you go ma'am. You can sit next to this nice woman and keep her company." He proceeded to deposit the woman one seat away from me. She was quite possibly the most gruff and abrasive woman I had ever met. She never once acknowledged me or the fact that the nice gentleman had escorted her to a seat. The first thing she did was phone her children to tell them how awful her day had been. How the man who was to drive her to the airport was late and how in her rush to get into the car, she wasn't sure if she had locked her front door. She began shouting, no, YELLING at her son on the phone, asking him if he had tried to call her. This shouting match went on for at least 20-30 minutes and continued up until the moment I boarded the plane. Our flight was overbooked so the airline was taking volunteers to take a later flight. NOPE. No way was I going to sit next to the Spawn of Scrooge for another two hours. What a hateful woman. I smiled at her, hoping that a little cheer would maybe rub off on her, if only for a brief moment. Once again, NOPE. She went immediately back to yelling at every person she could get to answer the phone about how uncaring all the people who didn't answer their phones were. *Sigh* The woman did however create the opportunity for other passengers and I to trade sympathetic and humorous glances.
The airplane was the smallest plane I have ever been on. It also looked like it had the potential of being the oldest plane I had ever been on as well. There was one row of seats on the left side of the aircraft and two on the right side. There was an approximately 14 inch aisle seperating the two. Only one set of overhead compartments were available, so all of the people who had assumed they could take carry-ons, had to go back and have their bags checked at the entrance to the plane. Irritating? Oh, I bet. The flight was fairly uneventful. I finished reading my book (which I wasn't all too impressed with) and then stared out the window for the rest of the trip. It was amazing. I don't think I have ever flown at night before. If I have, I must have slept right through it because this was something I surely wouldn't have forgotten. The cities literally sparkled. A soft golden glow was a haze over each one. As we came over St. Louis, the plane lowered slightly, giving way to the views of tree tops that looked more like fuzzy, green quilts and long ropes of diamonds and rubies on the highways. Rivers and roadways snaked amongst each other. We flew over the remnants of Busch Stadium. It was a giant pit of dust with large machinery moving around inside it. The frame still stood, but the heart was gone. The Arch stood watch over the progress and acted as a beacon for visitors. We landed smoothly and all gathered our belongings. I walked off the plane and down the tunnel to my Dad who was waiting amidst the crowd. I was so ready to be off the plane, not because it was a bad flight, but because I hadn't spent a holiday with my family in five years. St. Louis wasn't home, but just as the Arch is the Gateway to the West, St. Louis was the Gateway to home.