Time was moving like fucking molasses in the (finally) wintry weather of the city. It froze my fingers through the leather gloves i wear when riding the motorcycle and you could see your breath when you exhaled. It's a calming environment for me but i was anything but calm. A very defined chain of events had to take place in a certain order before i was getting out of town...three finals in two days, motorcycle ride home, catch the MARTA train to the airport, deal with the long lines, increased security and general nervous air of the airport while waiting for the flight to take off. Fluid Dynamics went better than expected, which gave me a few extra hours to chat with Laura and get some lunch. System Dynamics went a little worse than expected, but i did what i could do. It's out of my hands now.

Finals were over and done with, the ride home was thankfully uneventful and i was soon on the train for the 20 minute ride to the airport. Got my bag checked, through security and walked what seemed like miles to the end of the C Concourse. i was strangely calm when i got there, so i sat down and read the last of Stay Here With Me and listened to 2 CDs and waited as patiently as i could for my flight to start boarding. i knew the worst part was over and that i would soon be in New Orleans. i was still nervous and jittery.

Now unknown to me, i had put my Swiss Army Knife in my bag the previous week and had completely forgotten about it. There i was, sitting at the terminal, watching some people for another flight getting their carry-on baggage searched and i just discovered i had a large knife on me. They were going to nail me to the wall if my bag got searched, even though it was an honest mistake. It's amazing that i got past the X-ray machines and metal detectors with it, but i didn't want my forgetfulness to cause me to be late at all. There was the chance they wouldn't randomly select me to get my shit searched, so i just sat tight and waited for the boarding call to start.

My poker face apparently worked and i breathed a huge sigh of relief as i walked down the tunnel into the belly of the plane. i don't look forward to a career as a smuggler, but i've had good success in the past with it, getting a switchblade back to the States from Germany as well as now making it through security with a knife and 4 joints in my pack of cigarettes. The half-empty plane got off the ground smoothly and i watched the top layer of low clouds, smooth like whipped cream, disappear out of sight from the oval window. i was on my way, finally.

The flight was half filled, so i spread out on the block of 3 seats i had to myself and started idly chatting with the guy in front of me. We ended up talking for the entire flight, which made the short flight go that much faster. A huge smile broke across my face when the plane started it's decent and the orangy glow of the low-pressure sodium vapor lights got larger and larger. My seat belt was undone before the plane came to a full and complete stop. Once out in the deserted terminal, i was a man possessed, walking on legs of lightning, the heels of my combat boots thumping softly on the glossy floor. i wove around slow moving people and morons on their cell phones who can't walk and talk at the same time. Baggage claim, the agreed rezendevous point was just ahead.

Laura suddenly came into my field of vision, a mere 10 feet ahead. It didn't seem like i was walking so much as floating towards her. Finally in her arms, the warm embrace i had been aching to feel, i was finally ok. Things were perfect in my world again, starting at that exact moment.

Ken graciously drove Laura to the airport. He was sprawled across three seats, working on his crossword puzzle, oblivious to the shit-eating grins on our faces. i tried to help him out on the few blanks he hadn't filled, but my concentration was shot after 3 finals and the grueling days of waiting. My lime green duffle bag finally came across the large conveyor belt. i retrieved it and we all walked to Ken's Volvo, giddy and smiling.

The drive back to Laura's was fun - a stop at a drive-through daquri bar (backwards, so i got to order from the back seat), sticking my head and shoulders out the window at 60 mph and losing my bandana in the process. Bryan was waiting, drunk, when we arrived. We all hung out, drinking and smoking, talking, smiling. i finally felt at home, comfortable, secure. It's good to be here.

It's not so much a vacation as a transplant - even though none of the stuff here is mine, it feels like home and it's all her fault. The effect permeates my whole being and doesn't wear off, make me sloppy or fall flat on my face. Love is the perfect drug and i'm hopelessly addicted to her.