Day 6: Phoenix, AZ to Boston, MA

My stay at the Hilton was all too brief . My bed was comfortable and enveloped with six goose-down pillows and should have given me the best night of sleep during the entire trip, but I tossed and turned all night. I turned the A/C down as much as possible and still found myself slightly warm. Tricia didn't sleep well last night either and commented on the temperature as well.

We agreed to meet at 7am to leave since our flight on US Airways was due to depart at 9:05am. The hotel offered an airport shuttle service, but much to our dismay it didn't leave until 7:30am so we found ourselves waiting in the lobby for longer than expected. The shuttle was pretty crowded and we had a moment of concern thinking that only one of us was going to be able to get on the shuttle. But we both were able to get a ride without any trouble. As the driver was removing Tricia's luggage, she pointed her bag out to him describing it as the one "...with the orange tag." The driver asked her to say 'orange' again and asked where she was from. Tricia told him Boston and he happily replied, "Go Yankees!" musing out loud that he had probably just lost his tip. Tricia found him "adorable."

Sky Harbor airport was very busy and the check-in lines were long. I was delayed getting my boarding pass because of a group of people before me were experiencing passport issues and not being assisted by the most helpful US Airways attendant.

We rode the escalator up to the second level and stretched out before us were gift shops and restaurants. We briefly stopped for a few souvenirs and got into the line for security. There was another panic moment when Tricia couldn't find her cell phone, but fortunately she found it and we were able to proceed.

We had no idea that getting through security would take so long and be such a beast of a process. The line seemed to snake for miles. A woman paced within the perimeter of the lines calling out instructions for what to place in plastic bags due to the 3 ounce security mandate and eventually I remembered that I had a little bottle of Binaca in my purse along with a rather expensive pomegranate lip balm that I didn't want to lose because I didn't get one of those stupid baggies.

It took a very long time to get through security. By the time we made it through, our flight had started boarding. I thought to myself, "Where is a flight delay when you need one?" We hurried to the restroom and then over to Cinnabon for a little sticky breakfast-to-go and we were on our way ready and eager to board the plane.

Both Tricia and I were unfortunate to have the middle seat in a three-way seating arrangement. The two fellows that were seated to my left and right were overall quiet and kept to themselves. However, the man to my right had very furry arms and the touch of his forearm to mine during the six hour flight made me intimately know what being insane feels like-or that Chinese Water Torture thing. Either way it was maddening!

The seats were so uncomfortable. I found myself quickly getting a very stiff neck about an hour into our flight. I asked the flight attendant for a pillow, but she didn't have one to give. (She promised to bring one over to me should she find one, but I doubted I'd ever see again) I deeply regretted not bringing my neck pillow and swore that I would never make that mistake again on any future flights.

The movie playing during our trip was Oceans Thirteen which made me very happy because I had wanted to see it and thought it would kill two hours rather nicely. However, the little television screens that were placed overhead were just that-nearly directly over my head so that I had to tip my already aching neck upwards to see the movie. As I started watching it, I became so annoyed at my level of increasing discomfort that I gave up and turned on my iPod. I could tell the movie would be one that I'd want to watch and didn't want to ruin the experience by being uncomfortable.

Upon returning to Boston, we retrieved our luggage and each took our own limo ride home. My Carey chauffeur was from Egypt and was such a pleasure to talk to the entire trip home. (Apparently I really lucked out on the ride home because my limo was supposed to be from CTS International, but they were short staffed and contracted my scheduled pick-up to Carey whose clientele are typically business executives and the like.)

We spoke at length about all the features in the back seat of the sedan. There was bottled water, outlets to charge electronic devices, a fold-away laptop shelf, a courtesy Nokia cell phone, a digital tape deck, GPS, etc. The seats were butter leather and so comfortable.

My driver was Muslim and we spoke at great length about his religion and his marriage to a Jewish widower who converted to Muslim so they could marry eight years ago. He confessed that he was a 40-year old virgin when he married and explained that he had never touched a woman before his marriage. We talked about how all his family currently lived in Egypt and that during the mid-90's he had bought one of the first video phones so he could converse with his father, brothers and sisters. He had bought two of these video phones for approx. $2000 and never got the full benefit of either because of the compatibility between US and Egypt technology. So a typical phone call would allow him to see video but not hear his father talking to him. Another time he would speak to his sister, but could not see her.

We spoke about my observations of being in Mexico and not being able to speak Spanish. He shared with me how to he learned to speak English and fine-tune his language skills for six months living in England before coming to the United States. I asked if he swore in Arabic when he had a disagreement with his wife and that got him laughing. I pressed on asking what language he dreamed in and that question fascinated him because he had never given it much thought before.

Another interesting thing about him was his abilityto travel to Egypt for three months of the year to visit his family because he owns his own business, but his wife is unable to make the trip because she works for Macy's and is not able to take that much time off. He also shared that he never takes any photographs of his travels because he finds it is better for him to remember what he sees from memory rather than taking photographs because looking at photographs would make him too sad.

I don't find making small talk one of my strenghts, but I'm very good in a one-on-one situation. Talking with my driver was so enjoyable and educational. It was the perfect end to a very good trip to the Southwest.

Returning home found my beagle Minnie howling in the window and wagging her backside vigorously when I walked through the door. Being able to see Spencer again made me really feel like I had arrived because I had missed him so much.

I know I'll have some final thoughts on this trip, but for now I'm off to find a frozen pizza and relax in bed watching Fracture on DVD.

Good Night from Worcester.

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