Sacramento. 9.34am. Airport. Starbucks. Skinny Peppermint Mocha. Small. Caffeinated. Reorientating. Here.
Got up at 4am to catch the shuttle back to LAX for my flight. It wasn’t meant to be this early, but the other flight was cancelled. I tried to reschedule for a later one, but it would have cost me an extra $460 and I would have had to change at Phoenix, which is a lot of effort for a flight that only takes 50 minutes, and so I’m here. Possibly a good thing. I’m sure there’s some purpose in today.
I met a lady on the plane who thought I was an angel, and told me she was more excited about meeting me than about her upcoming first-time week in Sacramento. She’s a gorgeous black woman with gads of style, and until she told me her kids were all in their 50s I thought SHE was in her 50s. I told her that. It pretty much made her day. I’m the first Australian she’s ever met, and THAT pretty much made her day as well. She’s from Ohio, but she moved to California to get away from her kids, and now she misses them. She got excited because she saw cars driving in the snow beneath us, until I told her it was a small plane, and they were clouds, and we both laughed and nearly spilled our orange juices. Then we got to peer out the window like little children together and discover Sacramento for the first time for each of us. Before we got off she gave me her address and told me to write her when I got home, and then she gave me about a zillion hugs, which was lovely.
Sacramento is lovely. We flew over those bare earthquaky LA hills and the hills went for miles and miles, and as suddenly as a heartbeat the hills stopped and the land was flat as paper, and divided into paddocks after paddocks of shapes and colours like a quilt, even with big green circles as if they wanted to break up all that square. It was beautiful, and you could see in the distance that those earthquaky hills started again, and sandy dirt like it was desert again, all for no reason other than that was what it was, and it was beautiful. My friend in the other seat asked me what I thought the squares were and I told her it was paddocks, but she didn’t know that word. What do they call paddocks here? Fields?
I haven’t been outside yet, but from my Starbucks table with the empty coffee cup I can see it. It looks nice. Small enough to be manageable, unlike LA airport. LAX has more people than my entire capital city, I swear. My shuttle bus let me off there at the United terminal, terminal 1, but when I got inside there was a sign at the check-in saying to go to the US Airlines terminal and check in there instead. A security guard told me I needed to get in the elevator and go down and then take the airport shuttle bus to terminal 8, which was on the other side of the airport. It would have been okay except for the elevator had buttons labelled “C” and “E” and “Basement” and things like that, so I pressed the button that felt most right and hoped I’d know when to get off. I didn’t. A lovely lady with an airport badge got in and took me to the ground and showed me where to catch the bus, for which my tired and un-breakfasted self was extremely grateful. I told the shuttle driver I needed to go to terminal 8 and he asked me to repeat myself a few times before he got it. I’m not used to people who don’t understand Australian accents. I had to go catch another elevator then to the terminal, and a Chinese lady in front of the buttons kept saying a funny word to me that I didn’t understand. Eventually I realised she was saying “ticketing”, which meant “check in”, so I said yes. I’m still too tired to talk about what happened next. It wasn’t bad, nobody hurt me, it was just…big. I felt like cotton must feel being threaded through a tiny needle. I don’t want to do that again for a while, and I’m suddenly very, VERY glad to be in Sacramento.
I have a rental car booked, but I’m not going to take it, strange though that may sound. I’ve been practicing driving in my head while I’ve been in the passenger seat with Theresa, and more often than not I’m mentally turning into the wrong lane still. I don’t think my underslept self will cope. My underslept self knows now that there are shuttle buses to hotels, and that Sacramento is nice and most people (probably) don’t carry guns or want to rob me at the 7-11. Well, that’s what my friends tell me at least.
I’m meeting my friends for lunch tomorrow. My American friends. I’ve only ever talked to them in emails before, and I have to keep reminding myself that they’ll have American accents, and that they may not understand me when I say the number 8. They don’t write to me with American accents. Funny thing, that. I’m smiling a lot today. I can’t wait. I’ll sleep today, and enjoy tomorrow. I can’t wait!