Sleeping in a parking garage is not an easy thing. For one thing all the lights are on at all times, so it is never dark. For another, patrons tend to arrive early for their morning flights and drop their cars off, which results in the near constant clatter of people shuffling suitcases around while slamming car doors. I picked up maybe an hour of sleep total while I waited for somebody who actually worked there to arrive. At one point a mother and her child wandered by the car I was resting in, which was odd since it was nowhere near the drop off point and not on the path to the airport. Where exactly they were planning to go is a mystery to me, but they disappeared shortly after they saw me sitting there. I am a little surprised I was not confronted by a police officer at some point.
Around 5:45ish I realized I was not going to get any sleep and walked into the airport to the Dunkin Donuts. I grabbed a hot chocolate and returned to my rental directly. I try to avoid fast food places these days, particularly those with absolutely no food that could be quantified as ‘healthy’ no matter how hard you squint, but Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate is one of the very best examples of its breed. Plus it gave me something to do for a few minutes. Shortly after I returned to my rental a man arrived at the garage from the airport, apparently having left a suitcase in his rental car. Since he had put the keys into the overnight drop bin he was out of luck and had to wait for an attendant to arrive. We sat on one of the supports holding up the next level of the parking garage and waited together in silence, just two tired guys stuck in a parking garage at 6 in the morning.
The first attendant arrived shortly after that — my hot chocolate was still too hot to drink, so it was not a long wait from that point. The other man, someone from the German area of the world judging by his accent, went first since he had a plane to catch and I merely had four hours to drive. The attendant fished the man’s keys out of the overnight bin (which was rather full by that point) and they collected his luggage quickly. I then took my turn and told the attendant my strange story. He was just a bit stunned, to say the least. He apologized several times and then quickly unblocked the entrance, allowing me to leave. He also knocked a full day off of my rental agreement, so at least I had that going for me. I think he was just glad I did not sue (I do not know if I would have had just cause for such action, but I certainly could have played true to my American upbringing and made enough noise until he waived my entire fee… but I was raised better than that).
Remarkably the trip North to Maine was uneventful and smooth. Little more than four hours later I was reunited with Chad and Jessica, as well as some other mutual friends — most notably James and Felicity, whom I had met a few times previously. All told we are a very strange group of people, and combined with Jessica’s family (we were staying at their house) we had the beginnings of a classic sitcom ready to go. My name became “Travis” for the weekend since I bear a close resemblance to one of Jessica’s extended family with that name, and he did not attend the ceremony for reasons both mysterious and silly. That, combined with the bland nature of my diet, made me a bit of a talking point over the weekend (as it always does with these folks).
As is normally the case when people gather who have not seen each other in sometime the topics quickly turned to nostalgia of the good old days together. Seeing as these tales would be boring to anyone other than ourselves I will spare you the gritty details. Suffice to say, though, a good time was had by all. Things would be busy the next day, so it was good we had time to relax together. At some point during the day Southwest had located my missing luggage, but there was no way I was returning to Manchester just for that, so a trip was planned to the local Walmart (the classiest place open at the time) and I picked up what could best be described as almost partially-acceptable wedding attire. Fortunately my harrowing story was well known, and it was a casual wedding anyway, so there were no issues. Honestly, I was not too far off from fitting right in.
Wedding time came rolling around and everything went about as well as you could hope. The decorations were butterfly themed, apparently owing to a conversation Jessica had with her mother several years before in which she had mentioned liking a particular butterfly ornament, and which her mother took to mean “everything must be butterflies!”. It was… amusing. The ceremony was short, and right in the back yard of Jessica’s parent’s house. This is situated right on a lake, so it was rather idyllic. The bride and groom looked like two people who both knew the other was perfectly capable of plotting the perfect murder, which is about as good a foundation as I have heard of to base a life together upon. I believe I am obligated to say that they “make a lovely couple”, and so it is quite fortunate that this is a true statement. If one of them disappears mysteriously, though, I know enough to keep my mouth shut.
I ended up departing for New Hampshire early in the morning after a night of
debauched revelry sitting around the back yard enjoying the lovely evening. The neighbors had apparently decided to light off some roman candles (including one right in the middle of the vows earlier… it’s not like they couldn’t see a wedding was happening twenty feet away, either), which was amusing in a “watching the drunk people” kind of way. I hit the road with the expectation I would be visiting with another, entirely separate group of friends four hours later. About two hours into the trip my journey, though, came to an abrupt stop. The traffic was at a dead standstill, and my gas tank was near empty. Once it became apparent that I was not going anywhere I turned off my car and waited. And waited some more. And then just a bit more.
All told I sat there on the road, doing nothing productive (I could not even nap this time), for the better part of two hours. As traffic finally started moving again I got to see the tail end of a wreck about three miles up the road. Some lovely driver had managed to jack-knife their truck-pulled camper across both lanes of the highway, completely blocking everything. The road workers had literally had to cut the camper in two to get it out of the road, which is what they had been working on for so long. As I passed the driver (I presume) was in a very heated argument with some police officers, which was a particularly impressive feat given that his hands were cuffed behind his back. His wife (I presume) was standing by the side of the road, smoking, and rolling her eyes. She did not have handcuffs on, and nor did the police seem to be paying much attention to her.
My trip lasted for a few more days past that, but nothing nearly as dramatic happened during them. I visited with friends, retrieved my luggage from Southwest (and received a travel voucher for my trouble, meaning I got two from them for the issues I had with that trip) and had an all around good time. I also popped on down to Massachusetts proper and visited with family, including some that I had not seen in several years. Considering that they had added another child to their growing family in that time it was a visit that was well past due. I then spent one last night with my friends in New Hampshire before catching my flight.
I returned home uneventfully and returned to work shortly thereafter. The journey of adventure was over, but the memories will linger for years to come.
(All photos used in these three posts are stock images and not taken by me, either during the trip or at other times)