Here I was again. Back in the US Border Patrol’s Secondary Investigation unit at Toronto Airport. I still couldn’t believe it. I had done all this yesterday. I had my passport stamped and my I-94 entry permit to enter the US stapled into it valid until July 2011. And just because my flight was cancelled last night I was back here again? WHY? What could of changed since yesterday?
After about 45 minutes of waiting and muttered swearing I was called up. Not to the original lady but further back to the luggage inspection table. My luggage was opened and checked. I was questioned as to why I was entering the USA again. Unbelievable! But I was duly authorised, processed, sanctioned and allowed once again to get my sweet butt into the US. I made my way back through security. Belt off, shoes off, laptop out. Beep goes the scanner, out comes the wand and I am through. Now puh-lease don’t cancel my flight again tonight. I had checked the weather earlier and it looked clear… hopefully.
I made my way to the bar. The same one as yesterday and I paid an extortionate price again for a couple of beers and a Gin and Tonic. I could see the runways and aprons and they looked clear and so this was it. The final leg of my journey back to my Raven. I swigged the last of my G&T and made my way to the gate. After about 30 minutes we embarked.
My flight to Columbus was to be on a Bombardier Dash 8. It only carries 39 passengers and inside it looks more like a bus than a plane. And … this plane has propellers …Eek! The flight is less than half full so I can choose my seat. I do. As near the front as possible and in an aisle seat. I chat with the passenger across the aisle. It turns out he is from Nova Scotia. The part he is from is populated mostly by people whose families originated in Dorset England and they still speak with the vestiges of the Dorset accent. Amazing. He is researching this and is in the process of writing a book and so I give him my card. Hope I’ll hear from him soon. We also seem to share an interest in Arthurian legends and he shows me a book he is reading. I do remember reading the same one many years back myself.
And here we go. The lights in the cabin dim. We belt up and get the safety spiel from the charming lady in charge of the cabin. I watch as the props spool up and we head off towards the runway. It seems a long way and I wonder if the pilot has decided to drive to Ohio instead but no. We stop briefly and the engine noise grows. I can’t even see the props. They are just a blur and then…. we are off. Eek! One of the properties of the Dash 8 is it’s short distance take-off and in what seems an impossibly short time we are up. The aircraft shakes and shudders. My heart beat speeds up and I watch in spellbound terror as the undercarriage retracts and a snowy Toronto grows small below me. But soon the seatbelt sign goes off with it’s comforting ‘ding’ and we settle in for the short flight across Lake Erie and down through Ohio to Columbus.
Time for a Glenfiddich I feel and so I ask the charming stewardess for a ginger ale. It arrives along with a plastic glass filled with ice. I pull out a Glenfiddich and screw off the top. The stewardess appears again with nibbles and tells me I shouldn’t be using my own whiskey. Now after the 24 hours I’ve just had I am willing to fight her if she tries to take it away but no. She smiles and tells me to put it away as I can have some from her ‘private stash’. A minute later she is back with 2 miniatures of Johnny Walker. I think of asking her to marry me as I pop the cap and top up my glass with scotch and ginger ale. One BIG sip and the world is put to rights. I even dare to look out of the window. These small planes don’t fly that high and the night must be clear as I admire the twinkling lights below. I can make out a shoreline and I raise my glass as we cross the lake and this cowboy is back in America.
I even start to enjoy the flight as I chat to my friend across the aisle and the stewardess as I mellow out on Johnny Walker and before long the announcement comes that we are starting our approach into Columbus. I look out of the window and below me Columbus stretches out in the night. That old familiar skyline looks beautiful by night. I can see roads below as traffic moves around the city. The small plane banks and we belt in as the stewardess collects our empties. Lower and lower till I can see individual cars driving along. We even pass over a sports stadium. The beautiful green field shines in it’s floodlit glory. A brief moment of fear as the undercarriage lowers with a disconcerting thud and then we are down. I feel like I am back home.
It doesn’t take long for us to disembark and to be honest I can hardly contain my excitement. I am wearing the biggest grin as I stroll through the terminal. No immigration to go through. That was all done in Toronto. And then … there she is. My baby looking a beautiful vision in a long red coat. That smile and Raven black hair that I have missed so badly for the last 6 months. All the problems of my flight and my last abortive trip fade as I walk towards her. I can see she is taking pictures as I walk up to her and into her arms. “Baby I’m home.”
Next I collect ‘the luggage’. It’s good to see it has arrived safely too and we leave the terminal. I am in a daze by now. Happiness and relief that I got here this time and Raven tells me that we are being picked up. I suspect her daughter has come to get us but I am totally gob-smacked as a massive white limo glides up in front of us. “Surprise baby.” she chuckles.
© 2011 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.