Happy New Year! And here’s hoping it will be a happy one. I’ve got one piece of good news to kick it off! I announced earlier that last month’s Longest Night Masquerade Ball in Pennsylvania would be the last event, but as it transpires, there’s a new organizer volunteering to take on the project. I will share details as they evolve, but hopefully, there will be a masque in the Washington DC area next winter.
I had quite the journey getting to the masque this year. After three hours’ worth of delays, my outbound flight through Philadelphia was canceled due to weather. I was rebooked on a flight early the next morning through Charlotte, NC, that wasn’t exactly the most direct route, but would at least get me to Harrisburg, PA by the afternoon of the event. I boarded the on-schedule flight at 6:30am with nothing but a cup of hotel coffee in and a bite of leftover Doubletree Inn cookie in my belly, feeling pretty good about my chances and looking forward to a decent breakfast during my 3-hour layover in Charlotte. The captain announced it would take 15-20 minutes to de-ice the plane and we’d be on our way.
Then we sat. And sat. The de-icer truck came and went; we heard it broke down, we heard it would be fixed in ten minutes, we heard they were sending another. We heard we were next in line for de-icing and departure, thinking, “Wait, how come other flights got to go ahead of us?” We heard the de-icing equipment broke down again. With hotel coffee curdling in my belly, I watched the 3-hour window to make a connection in Charlotte dwindle to two, then one, then… doubtful. Checking alternate flights, I confirmed that if I missed this one, there was no way I’d make it there before the event. After 2 hours and 45 minutes on the tarmac, we finally took off. With luck, I thought I might still make it. After all, how big could the airport in Charlotte be?
As it turns out, pretty big, and my connection was in a different terminal. Before we landed, I asked a flight attendant if she could make an announcement requesting that passengers allow travelers with a chance of making a connection to disembark first, something that’s always been standard practice in my experience. She gave me a dubious look and said, “I can ask, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it.” Which I guess we’ll never know, since she didn’t bother to make an announcement. Thanks for that, American Airlines!
I watched the minutes tick away as we taxied. A helpful notification from the AA app informed me that it looked like I would be missing my connection. “Not yet,” I thought. “Not yet, dammit!” I’d like to say I ran through that airport like a bat out of hell, because that’s what it felt like, but given that I was toting a large purse and a winter coat and dragging a carry-on behind me, I think it was probably more of a steady jog. But I got to the gate with a solid 90 seconds to spare.
Frazzled and ravenous, nonetheless, I made it; and I’m very glad I did, especially as it allowed me to be present for a memorial tribute to a member of the Longest Night family who passed away this year. It’s a humbling and wonderful thing to see that love of the Kushiel’s Legacy series and their setting has enabled readers to find a sense of community and create a space in which everyone is free to be their most beautiful and authentic self. I’m hopeful that the tradition will indeed continue, and that we may celebrate the spirit and memories of all our loved ones within it.
Here’s wishing you all the best in the year to come!