Waking up at 5 am is NOT fun, especially when you’re me. Luckily, I had taken a shower the night before. I had to put my nice clothes on (just in case we were able to get First Class on the flight home), but I didn’t have time to eat breakfast or put on my makeup. No matter, I’d just do it on the train. (Yeah, right.) Since my mom was still sleeping, I hopped into her bed and gave her a hug and told her goodbye. D.P. had already said his goodbye the night before. We said goodbye to my dad when he dropped us off at the train station just after 530 am.

One of the ‘locals’ showed us how to use the machine to buy our tickets, and we had to wait just a few more minutes until the train arrived. I was so tired, all I could do was try my best not to doze off… but D.P. encouraged me to rest, so I did. About an hour later, we arrived at Penn Station.

[I have to halt the story for a moment and say we tried the night before to figure out a solid plan to get from Penn Station to LaGuardia airport. We went through a few different scenarios, and some with good outcomes. None were perfect – in fact, at least one plan would have gotten us to the airport ten minutes prior to the flight leaving (no good!) – but overall we had options. Instead of cementing what we would do, my mom offered the suggestion that once we arrived at Penn Station, we ask what the best way back to LaGuardia would be. It was my mistake thinking anyone would be willing to help us once we got there.]

This is where I get a little fuzzy about details traveling from Penn but, when we tried to hail a cab, the driver wouldn’t give me an estimate as to fare or drive time. Of course, I knew both topics depend on the meter, but MY GOODNESS! In the end, we decided to go back inside and check on getting to the airport by train. We walked over to the window where my mom had bought our train tickets on Friday, and I was told we would have to use the NJ Transit downstairs. Okay. We headed downstairs and I looked at the paper my mom had originally given us when we researched routes the night before. “N”. I looked for the N signs, but didn’t see any, so I asked a lady running a newspaper stand. All she knew was where to find A, B, C, 1, 2, and 3. Gah! We continued walking, looking all over the place for the stupid N train. Tempers began flaring, and D.P. and I started getting on each other’s last nerves. At one point, when he was being particularly poopy in attitude, I walked as fast as I could, assuming he would keep up with me. Of course, he probably wasn’t too fond of me at the time. LOL Eventually, we found ourselves at a NJ Transit help center.

I told the woman behind the counter what our problem was, and asked her if she had any idea on the best way to get where we were going. I believe she said NJ Transit wouldn’t get us there, that we would need to go upstairs. W-W-W-WHAT?! A colleague of the woman was in the office at the time, and offered to direct us to the place within Penn Station that we needed to be to buy a Metro card. Excellent! It was such a relief to finally know where to go.

We found our way to a Metro card machine, and I wondered how much a fare was. Should I put $10 on the card? $20? Good Lord. D.P. said we should go talk to the man in the booth behind us. Good idea. We waited patiently in line and, when it was just us and him, I told our problem to him, too. Not to worry, he said, all you have to do is take the “E” train to Roosevelt Avenue and then hop on the Q33 bus (Queens), which would take us straight to LaGuardia.

We found the E and decided the first one was too full. By this time, I was so hot and sweaty that I imagined my pores having a field day with building up all the oil they could and popping out dozens of zits all over my face. I hoped I didn’t smell bad (I put deodorant on, right?). As we stood on the next train, we became extremely squished with other passengers and I held on to the bar as tight as I could. I even prayed to God I wouldn’t fall over on top of two women who were sitting next to me. At one point, I was able to sit down and towards the end of the ride, D.P. was able to grab a seat, too.

When we arrived at the Roosevelt Avenue stop, we walked until we saw a sign for the Q33. Upon its arrival, we stepped up into the bus with our suitcases and sat down. We were almost to our final destination!

We arrived at LaGuardia at approximately ten minutes ’til 9 am, and proceeded through security. When we got down to the gate, I switched my shoes from tennies to dressy. We were so tired already, but waited patiently to hear if our names would be called for the 930 am flight back to Denver. A few minutes later, an airline employee announced there was a small mechanical issue that mechanics were working on. I told D.P. I was going to use the restroom. When I saw the line to the womens restroom was about 8 people long, I texted D.P. and told him to call me if our names were called to hop on the flight. When I got back to him, D.P. said nothing had changed, so he was going to go to the bathroom and asked if I was hungry. I told him I was, and he said he’d be right back.

A few minutes later, he came back to me with a small bag in his hand filled with a cinnamon roll and muffin and asked me if I had seen Matt Lauer ‘over there’. “No!” I said. He pointed to the area where Matt was standing, and I walked over to see if I could see him. I really hope Matt didn’t see me being a lookey-loo. We wondered where he was travelling to. Chicago, it looked like. I saw him on the Today show the next morning, so it must have been a quickie trip.

Finally, the rest of the passengers for our flight boarded the plane. Then, an employee started calling names for the stand-bys… I was one of the names. D.P. walked up with me, and told them he was an employee and I was his (flight) companion. The employee said that they only had one seat left. I told D.P. I didn’t want to go, and looked at him with scared puppy-dog eyes. He firmly told me I *had* to go, and he’d see me later. My heart sank. I didn’t like feeling the way I did when I had to leave him, especially after all the trouble we went through earlier in the day to even get to the airport. I was fortunate enough to have one of D.P.’s co-workers from Denver on the flight with me, so I felt a little better in the end. It was a long flight home, especially with Mr. I’m-gonna-spread-my-elbows-over-into-your-personal-space sitting on my right. Good thing the stand-bys and I were able to choose our own seats so I could have an aisle seat.

I called D.P. when I arrived in Denver, and he told me he hadn’t been able to catch a flight yet. He was NOT happy. I told him I would wait for him as long as I could, until the last flight if I needed to. At one point, when the situation wasn’t looking good at all, I asked him if it might be better for me to hop on the bus and head over to his house to at least rest for a while before I went home. He said he would leave the decision up to me, and that’s what I was going to do until I received a call from him while I was waiting for the bus. Poor D.P. had waited (semi)patiently all day, until the very. last. flight. He’d be home by about 8 pm Denver-time. I asked him if he wanted me to wait, and he said it was up to me. I told him: “f you are leaving it up to me, I’m going to your house to wait. If you want me to wait at the airport until you get here, then I’ll do that.” He asked me to wait and he’d see me soon. I was ecstatic that he was going to make it home that night! After all was said and done, I waited eight hours at the airport for D.P. to come home.

Once, while I was waiting, I wished he had given me his car keys so I could have driven myself home and then come back to pick him up instead of waiting. It was far too late at that point to be thinking of something like that, though, so I tried to keep myself busy: getting something to eat and drink, reading two magazines, checking e-mail, reading my book, and walking around.

As we were driving home, he told me he had one of the guys from work see what was going on that day, see why he wasn’t able to get out of NYC. Apparently, to keep the flights on-time, employees were sending planes out that had empty seats! I guess he said something to an employee there that was loud enough for another stand-by to hear, and she questioned what was going on. I’m pretty sure that’s why D.P. was on the next flight back to Denver. LOL When we arrived at D.P.’s house, I made him a sandwich for dinner while he quickly showered. We talked for a few minutes and then I left to go home and be with my kids.

It was a long trip home, but it was fun while we were there and I will never be the same.