Our flight leaves at 7:45 from Dulles.
“We said we’d be leaving at 3:30.”
“No, we said between 3 and 3:30!”
“And you’re not even ready!” Stare intensifies, my appendix just dissolved.
We walked out the door at 3:30. This is standard operating procedure whenever we go anywhere. I’m always late. Lauren’s always early. But together…we’re on time (actually we’re still early, which Lauren defines as on-time).
Some of the anxiety here is because we’re flying out of Dulles, which is five or six time-zones away. The only time we fly out of there is when we’re flying international, and Lauren is a steadfast believer in the get-there-three-hours-early policy.
Oh, I failed to mention we’re flying to London by way of Iceland.
We’re staying with friends, and then heading up to Edinburgh for a couple days before coming home.
This means 90 percent of the trip planning has gone into just getting to Dulles. Seriously. We debated longer than Republicans on immigration whether to take the 5A from Rosslyn or the Silver Line to Weihle-Reston East. Silver line won, and at every hangup Lauren said, “the 5A is quicker!”
It may be…but without empirical evidence I will say that we made it from our door to the ticket check-in counter by 5:00 on the nose. So walking, to Red Line to Silver Line to Dulles Express to airport in 90 minutes during rush hour. Total price tag about $10.
I have a secret love affair with Dulles. Maybe it’s because it’s exotic, all tucked away in the countryside a few states away. Or, more likely, because it’s the one piece of brutalist architecture that’s ever worked in the history of mankind. Eero Saarinen’s design still feels futuristic five decades later. It’s like walking around the set of a 1970’s sci-fi space drama. The font is the type you’d find at Kennedy Space Center, it says “Welcome to Battlestar Galactica!” The main terminal feels like a massive concrete wing that could take flight at any moment.
Even passing through the security checkpoints has a certain sci-fi feel, albeit in a more dystopian sense. The light stands with four fluorescent lamps combine with the staggered gates and the actual act of passing through security always make me feel like I’m in some sort of alien prison camp. I know…that’s pretty weird.
During the holidays though, something really magical happens. The sci-fi feel of Dulles is thematically hijacked by the action genre. With every Christmas tree I pass, I expect John McClaine to come jumping out, guns blazing as a rogue team of ex-military terrorists zoom across the airport grounds on snowmobiles while taking control of the entire airport. All the meanwhile, all the planes circle endlessly because the next closest airport is 15 hours away. If I look closely, I can still see the burn mark on the tarmac where a line of spilled fuel saved the day.
(By the way…the most unrealistic part of that entire movie is the snow-mobiling. It never snows that much here!)
Oh the things you imagine while waiting for the flight you’re on-time (obscenely early) for.