Sixty Thousand Feet Above Tennessee

February 23rd, 2014

It’d been a really, really long week. And it wasn’t even over. In fact, the worst (or best, or most intense – Whatever you prefer) was still to come. The next 24 hours were going to be the most insane.

It was Sunday night. Three days ago, I’d taken a 5am flight from Newark (an absolutely abominable airport, mainly just because it’s in New Jersey, and not New York) to San Francisco. I arrived in San Francisco in the morning, and immediately went on to meet up with some contacts and help shoot a documentary. This was all great, except for the little amount of sleep that I’d gotten, combined with the amount of jet lag that I was experiencing. In the end, between Tuesday morning and Thursday night, I got about four or five hours of sleep. Not cool.

The next day, we interviewed several people who were of a little bit more importance: A wiry and insanely smart CEO of a startup, a design professor from Stanford. I felt a little bit out of my league whenever I talked with them, and the amount of sleep I’d gotten didn’t help at all. I ended up making a fool of myself by stuttering and stammering for some half-intelligent words every time I opened my mouth. By the end of Friday, it was an accomplishment when I could tell someone that orange was a good color for his or her startup logo.

But all of that was behind me. Ahead of me, I had an overnight flight that would land me in Newark on Monday morning, at which time I would go directly to Grand Central Station and get to work at 11am, conduct the first video shoot at my internship (where I could probably land a job offer in the next several months), and then immediately after that head to another video shoot.

I was looking forward to all of these things, but most of all, I was looking forward to going back to my apartment, making a pizza with one of the pizza crusts that was sent to me in a care package from my family, and then falling asleep. That was the end goal. That was the one thing I wanted to get to. If I could get to that point on Monday night, it would mean that I succeeded.

Everything was going great.

Until I missed my flight check-in by seven minutes.

As an over enthusiastic woman with an ugly mole on her chin rebooked my flight, my mind raced through all of the things that I could have done to get to the airport seven minutes earlier.

I could have skipped going to the bathroom. I could have eaten dinner in the car instead of sitting down the restaurant. I could have left a little earlier. I could have checked in online – That was the one that really got me. I didn’t even like to think about that.

I was better than that – I knew how to plan – What was wrong with me? I missed the flight check in by seven minutes.


As I turned around, away from the yammering flight check-in attendant, I realized what I’d done. This whole weekend was like trying to cram my hand into a jar of candy: There was really good candy in that jar, but damn it, my hand would not fit.

San Francisco is a really great place to visit. Shooting a documentary is a really great thing to do. Conducting a shoot at an internship for the first time is probably really good for your career path (I might never know now, I missed my flight). Doing freelance shoots is great for connections and always adds to the wallet.

But all of those things, combined with two red eye flights? Well, maybe it was a little too much.

I always try to tell myself that just because something is desirable and is a good thing and has a lot of positive elements to it, doesn’t mean that it’s always to the right time to have it.

Exercise is great, but not when you’re having a heart attack. Sleep is healthy, but not when you’re late for work. Peanut butter and Jelly is a great snack, but not when you’re allergic to peanut butter.

It’d been a long week. And in some way, it was over. I’d get back to my apartment on Monday night with a terrible feeling that I’d missed something. The two shoots that I was supposed to do would be going in full swing without me while I was sixty thousand feet in the air above someplace in Tennessee, and there would be absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I’d walk up the five flights of stairs to my apartment, unlock the door, and make that freaking pizza. But it wouldn’t taste quite as good as I wanted it to, and it wouldn’t taste quite as good as I expected. I’d go to sleep, but I wouldn’t sleep quite as well, because I’d dream about everything I missed while I was in the air, sixty thousand feet above Tennessee.


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