Monday, May 3, 2010

The 24 Hours of ABQ: A Photo Journal

“All suffering has one thing in common. It ends.” This is what I thought on Wednesday April 28, 2010. The end of our project was finally in sight, after the team had burnt the midnight oil for three days in a row. I believe Andrew slept less than 5 hours over three days, a feat that I could not match even with the aid of Excedrin. It was on that Wednesday that we realized that the presentation was going to be what it was going to be. Even if it wasn’t perfect, we still had a viable presentation scattered across the WPI mail server courtesy of Andrew. I was going to get some sleep that night.

Moments after my mind engendered that truism from The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance, I made a shocking discovery: I mistakenly booked my flight for Monday May 3, 2010, one day after all the others were leaving and one day after the rental contract on our house expired. For the next three hours, sleep did not come. Out of a humanistic need for consolation, I told Andrew of my tragedy over AIM, but I tried to suppress the feeling in my gut. I stayed up trying to rationalize the self-incurred suffering. “Am I going to be angry about it? No, it wouldn’t help to be angry at myself. What’s one more day out of 50? Only 2% more suffering, right?” It was then that I made the decision to leave on the same shuttle as some of the guys leaving on Sunday, and spend a whole day waiting to check in. I was no stranger to sleeping at an airport. Coincidentally, I wrote about the other time I was stranded at an airport for a ninth grade writing assignment.

The following pictures and words detail the experience of the day I spent at Albuquerque International “Sunport” (pretentious, are we not?).

I arrived at the Sunport at about 10:30 on Sunday May 2, 2010 and bade farewell to Jack, Andrew, Joel, and Steve, all of whom were leaving on the same American Airlines flight. I then went over to the Southwest ticket counter and sat on one of the brown vinyl benches to engage in what I call a series of prolonged blinks. I tried to sleep, but the thought of being robbed haunted me. I attempted to check in my bags at 12:25PM, within the allotted 24 hour check-in window for flights. To my dismay, bag check-in must take place within 4 hours of departure. I was able to print my boarding pass, but I would now be burdened with the two large suitcases like two heavy, clothing-filled extraneous appendages. Until 8:00 AM the next day, I would be dragging these bags to the bathroom every time nature called. Sit-down meals were out of the question. Does suffering really end?

Eventually, I became frustrated enough by my dire situation to go find some food. I went to Hudson News, a chain newsstand that sells magazines, books, and snacks among other goods. There, I bought a copy of Motor Trend and the most caloric snack on the rack, pizza-flavored Combos (1190 calories per bag). What the hell, I might as well get Road and Track while I’m at it. After that, I relegated myself to corner farthest away from the entrance and alternated between reading, eating, and prolonged blinking while listening to music. The following are my sights for the next four hours:

Why is the MP3 player plugged into the mint box, you ask? It’s actually an amplifier housed inconspicuously in a mint box. The purpose of this device is to drive high-impedance headphones without distorting while boosting the bass of the music. It makes stuff louder.

Song of the moment: Metallica – Turn the Page

“Later in the evenin',
as you lie awake in bed
With the echoes of the amplifiers,
ringin' in your head…
Here I am, on the road again…”

Just when I was about to take a picture of the clouds outside for a metaphor, this happened:

Can anything go as planned today?

The three-step routine continued for a while, until I became bored of reading and eating Combos. I decided to look for greener pastures, lugging my suitcases along the way. I settled at one of the benches about 30 feet away that had a wall outlet for my laptop power supply. The next chunk of hours consisted of Family Guy, House, Kino’s Journey, and the Conan O’Brien interview from 60 Minutes. I looked up from my computer and noticed the evening sky and thinning crowds. It was dinner time.

Song of the Moment: Michael Jackson – Who is it?

“And It Doesn't Seem To Matter
And It Doesn't Seem Right
'Cause The Will Has Brought
No Fortune”

The dinner I had was a far cry from the celebratory dining experience just 24 hours before that both project teams and Professor Carerra attended. It was sustenance, at least. After “dinner” I surfed the internet for a while, reading blogs that I forgot about during the project and perusing Facebook. I read the Corvette ZR1 vs. Nissan GT-R vs. Porsche 911 Turbo comparison in Road and Track. I listened to some Disney music that Joel gave me as a gift to combat my boredom at ABQ Sunport.

Song of the Moment: I Won't Say (I'm in Love) [From Hercules]
“If there's a prize for rotten judgement
I guess I've already won that”

Before I knew it, 2:00 AM arrived and the place was empty. An empty airport is a rare sight. It made me feel like I lived in a huge house. It also looked like a scene out of Zombieland or Dead Rising, devoid of people but with evidence of civilization. The intercom still looped with the same message about air travel safety or the one forbidding parking at the terminal entrance, but it was creepy to listen to now. So, I turned up my amplifier to compromise between drowning out the announcements and blowing out my eardrums.

Without people around, I felt that I could be more risky about leaving my stuff unattended. I explored a bit and looked at some art pieces.

The next five hours consisted of writing for the IQP blog and this:

After a somewhat lengthy nap, I woke up to catch the sunrise. The airport sunrise has become a sight for my sore eyes, because it always meant that I would be leaving the airport soon after it.

After catching the sunrise, I finally liberated myself from my luggage and went through the security checkpoint. I grabbed my first real meal since the dinner at Maria’s on Saturday. I asked for sausage on my sandwich and got ham, but it didn't bother me at the time.

Well, that’s it. Four hours after that sandwich and a cherry Italian soda, I was 10,000 feet above Albuquerque. I was tired and lacking in personal hygiene, but I was finally on my way home.

Song of the Moment: Ikimono-gakari – Bluebird

“tsukinuketara mitsukaru to shitte
furikiru hodo aoi aoi ano sora
aoi aoi ano sora
aoi aoi ano sora”

“You know if you can break through, you’ll find what you seek
So break free, and towards that blue, blue sky
Towards that blue, blue sky
Towards that blue, blue sky”

1 comment:

  1. I'm really surprised you didn't end up having to deal with some random homeless person stopping by and bugging you during the night...