Monday, January 08, 2007

Nostalgia trip

Major nostalgia trip. I'm sitting at Southwest's Gate 6 at Sea-Tac, a place I visited nearly every week for five years while commuting to San Jose. I haven't been there since changing jobs in February, but when I walked up to the Starbucks (newly remodeled and expanded) the woman at the counter remembered my usual order ("grande Awake tea, one teabag").

The place is full of ghosts.

There's the ghost of Chris, who carpooled with me to the airport for the first two years of the weekly commute. I remember the time we got back from the trip so frazzled that we not only couldn't find the car in the parking garage, we couldn't remember if it was his Volkswagen or my Honda we were looking for. Chris works for Microsoft now, and, ironically, is headed to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show this week as I head to Macworld in San Francisco (via Oakland).

And there's the ghost of David, who's still making the regular commute to San Jose these days. He's not going down this week, though, and he'd be headed to San Jose, not this flight to Oakland. It's odd to be here without him

I remember the first year of the group commute. 9/11 had just happened, and our Apple laptops, which glowed in "sleep" mode, occasionally freaked out inspectors and stewardesses. My most comfortable winter shoes were tall, lace-up Santana boots, and it took me forever to get reassembled after going through security.

Today is my first time flying since the three-ounce liquid rules were introduced. So I checked my rollaboard with all my shampoos and stuff, and it's rather nice to be at the gate with just a small purse and a lightweight computer briefcase to tote aboard.

This being a mid-day flight, there aren't the Bluetooth earphones, high-end cellphones and iPod earbuds I remember from the heavily wired 6:30 a.m. commuter flights. The scene is quite peaceful, actually, just the mumbling of the TV trying to freak us out with the news that there was a mysterious smell in New York City and downtown Austin is closed "in the wake of mysterious bird deaths." And the soft babbling of the cell phone addicts. "Hi. I'm at the airport. Where are you?"

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