Twas Fleeting, part 5

part four here.

“‘Twas Fleeting” is a look back at December 20th to December 23rd, 2006 in which Denver was hit upside and sideways by one of the worst snow storms in our history here in Colorado. I was stuck in Denver Intl. Airport for the three day event and experienced so many emotions, events and memories that I’ve decided to share them. This is my story. *insert Law and Order Sound Effect Here*

It was approaching eleven pm at the airport on the 22nd of December. On December 20th, 2006 Denver Colorado was brought to a standstill by a powerful snow storm. Along with 5,000 others myself and new found friend Mark were living the life in Denver International Airport. We had lived two nights in the cavernous terminal. Clinical psychologists would have had a field day with us by this point in the adventure.

After calling around we found a taxi company willing to get us to the hotel that was waiting fifteen minutes from where we stood. The wait was probably worse than anything in the last few days. We smelled. We felt like vomit four times over. We looked like the undead. Our bodies were sore from the hard floor we had attempted rest upon. Our eyes twitched.

It took half an hour to point the taxi driver to where we stood. Even after that we had to travel up and down a few elevators to get where he was. The adventure didn’t end there. The drive was slow as Mark battled with the driver about the price. I didn’t speak and decided to let him have this fight. I was too tired, too fed up and was not about to be involved in something I felt was useless.

I never told Mark this but I felt like he was pushing the taxi guy around even when there wasn’t much dithering that could happen with the meter and our destination. Maybe he felt he could get the most out of the deal or something, but I just wanted him to pay the man and get us inside. I just wanted to get a shower, sleep and face the new day with some semblance of balance within my mind.

Sending the taxi away we checked in and walked to our room with smiles slowly breaking through the clouds of anger and frustration that had been over our heads since this tale had begun. There was hope a door away. We got in the room.

I beat Mark into the shower. There are words, phrases and images I could attempt to use to describe the moment in which the hot water graced my muddied epidermis. Within the pantheons of prose there might be some manner to describe the feeling and emotions that threatened to break as I cleansed my body of the last three days.

I couldn’t do it justice. Imagine the dirtiest situation you have ever been in. Put in your mind’s eye the sweatiest moment you’ve experienced. Take the hardest workout you’ve ever put your body through. Then imagine getting cleaned top to bottom with just perfectly steamed water as you’re massaged softly from head to toe as you’re fed the greatest food in the entire world.

That’s what it felt like. I took one shower. I slept wonderfully as Mark stayed in the shower for an eternity, no doubt washing all the florid words from his mouth. We knew we had to get up early to get back to the airport early enough to get on our respective planes and eventually get home to see our families and friends for the holidays. I was starting to feel the emotional impact of knowing my holidays were shortened with my parents and brother but also knowing there was nothing I could do about what had happened.

As we woke up around 4:00am we showered once more enjoying the last moment of warmth before plunging out into the cold weather, packed and ready to face the day. The shuttle from the hotel dropped us off and as we stepped into the airport we headed to our ticket counters. I to Frontier and Mark to United.

I didn’t know if I would see Mark again. I didn’t get a chance to thank him for being a friend to some random guy from Colorado. I didn’t get a chance to get an email or phone number from him. We both were so focused on getting into the lines we didn’t really know if we’d be getting out the morning of the 23rd. I found my line at frontier and made new friends as we waited for the men and women to man the counters.

People lined up behind us and far into the A concourse walkway again as we had done a day before. This time I was where I was supposed to be and just three bodies from the front of the line. I quietly thought about Mark and prayed he’d find his way home to Canada safely. He had been a great friend to stick it out with the weird nerd kid from Colorado. I thank Mark from New Orleans (originally from Canada) for his kindness and will not forget it.

I eventually ended up in the terminal at my gate finally with a ticket to Phoenix and then on to Seattle where my parents would pick me up and drive me back to Portland where I would spend a short Christmas. I landed in Phoenix (worst airport ever by the way) and with a fellow passenger found our way to get checked in and sitting at the gate.

Fog nearly seriously delayed our flight but thanks to God it cleared and we were on our way. Several hours later we touched down in Seattle as the sun was falling. The feelings that had followed me in the halls of the airport were still with me as I had spent most of the day on a plane stuffed in with others who simply wanted to go home. As I stepped into Seattle I smiled for the first time that day and found myself being interviewed by a camera man about what it had been like.

I stood near the baggage claim telling the tale of our adventures along with the 5,000 others. As I pull the camera up and away from me standing in baggage claim sharing the travails imagine music playing softly in the background swells as the scene moves out of the airport to above Seattle I realize a few things. It’s been a unique adventure. I met some great people. I’ve watched people cry because those that they love so very much will not see them this holiday season. And I will never forget those faces or the tears shed.

The scene fades to black.

I met up with my parents and we spent the remaining days enjoying each others company as much as we could. Every day since then I repeat the following things that I learned.

1: Never, ever no matter how cheap it is do I ever fly out of DIA in December. Eva’ again!

2: It could have been much worse. We were lucky to get stuck in DIA. It could have been Phoenix. Or New Jersey. Insert other terrible airports here.

3: No matter how rough or ugly it gets, there are always people around to remind you of the spirit of the Season. It’s not dead yet.

4: I still love my Denver. Ain’t nothin’ bettah!

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