The following is an account of the time Madison and I were desperate to get out of Los Angeles, and home to Atlanta in the fall. Because of our line of work, we have developed an internal algorithm that calculates exactly how long it will take to get to the airport with and without traffic, during rush and non-rush hour, times the rate of security with and without TSA pre check divided by number of travelers and length of stay. We feel it inside of our bones and we are never wrong.
But this is Los Angeles, which laughs in the face of algorithms.
(SFX: Law and Order double xylophone hit, then typewriter clicks)
September 20th, 2015:
Madison and I had spent weeks together in LA. She was shooting season 2 of Bosch, and I was trying to get a job. Which means I was trying to get an audition. While my street cred is pretty strong in Atlanta, I have trouble getting arrested in Los Angeles, despite the extreme shortage of 45 year old blonde actresses.
(deadpan look to camera)
September 25, 2015
Madi really wants to go home. The only words she has uttered in 7 days are THE CUMMING FAIR in a perpetual loop. She has to be there with her friends. It is dire. I hesitate for two reasons. Trying to gain permission to leave town while shooting an episodic television show is akin to gaining high level government clearance. Also, it’s a well known fact that the moment you book travel to leave LA, you’ll either be scheduled to work, or the audition you’ve been waiting for will come through. It’s science. But eventually, Madi’s strong suggestion that she must be at the Cumming Fair with her friends or she will expire wins out, and I email production, wheedling and cajoling for clearance with relentless, bad ass, stage mommery.
September 27, 2015
Still no clearance for her. Still no auditions for me. This is a recipe that bakes up two perfectly formed whiny females lolling about their rental apartment spewing utterances like HATE PEOPLE and UUUUUUUGH and ERMAGERDDDDDDD.
September 29, 2015
Finally we receive the words we were waiting for. We can go home for a week! Joy! Jubilation! Pumpkin Spice Latte! We quickly make our last minute exorbitantly priced travel plans and pack our autumn wardrobe.
October 1, 2015
7:00 a.m. Prepare to leave for LAX. Multi colored leaves and The Cumming Fair await. All is well. There are feelings.
7:30 a.m. Picked up by cute, helpful, 18 year old Parker who has agreed (spoiler: he never will again) to drive us to the airport.
7:31 a.m. We enter the apocalypse. AKA rush hour traffic in LA. I am taken aback, But it has never taken me longer than an hour and fifteen to get to the airport, so I figure we are ok.
7:56 a.m. I have figured wrong
8:10 a.m. We CANNOT move. Parker suggests getting OFF the 101 onto Sepulveda to miss the TERRIBLE merge onto 405S which is considered the worst intersection in America (google it). “IT’S MUCH FASTER”, he cheerily assures. I trust Parker. We get off at Sepulveda.
8:30 a.m. Why did I trust Parker!? He’s 19!!!!! What does he know!? Dear God, it is bedlam. There must be a dead person somewhere, lying across the middle of the road causing this stand still. (Can we not just run over them? They’re dead….) Parker senses my discontent and begins to stutter apologies. I am intimidating on the best of days. I know this.
9:00 a.m. Still not back on the 405. We are trying to do enough good deeds to work our way out of Sepulvatory. It feels oddly like trying to gain clearance from an episodic tv show. Somewhere, Satan laughs.
9:20 a.m. Madi begins to weep in the back seat. I am in for it. In my head, Marc, who leaves 4 hours before ANY flight to ANYWHERE is sighing at me in extreme disappointment. I KNOW MARC, I KNOW, OK!?
9:40 a.m. FINALLY get onto the 405. Angels may be singing but I cannot hear them over the zinging of hate arrows coming from Madi’s eyes and soul. She is also texting Parker from the back seat apologizing for my abusive exclamations of hatred for this city.
9:45 a.m. I make a plan to abandon luggage in Parker’s car and just carry on. We have clothes at home, right? I mean….we live there. Madi shrieks that her outfit to go to the Cumming fair is in her suitcase and SHE CANNOT SIMPLY ABANDON IT. I tell her to go half naked, as that’s what most girls at the Cumming Fair do. It’s perfect! Madi stares at me with the disgust reserved for parents who make these sorts of asinine suggestions. This facial expression would also be perfect for the Cumming Fai…..never mind.
9:50 a.m. We are getting off the exit for LAX. Can we make it??? Emphatic no. Our flight is at 10:05……our trip has been Sepulvorized.
10:15 a.m. Montage: A rapidly wearying Parker drops us off at different terminals while we wait in line and try to get another flight on a different airline and he circles around in case we do not succeed and need to go elsewhere. Sharply increase the level of panicked speaking with each terminal. Also insert random phone calls from Marc who is trying to help us from Atlanta. Nothing is ever accomplished on these phone calls. They simply exist to drive the tension of this narrative to a higher and higher level.
10:45 a.m. There are no other flights available. Our only hope is to go stand by. Madi hastily stuffs Cumming Fair outfit into her backpack. (It’s so small it fits in side pocket. Perfect for the Cumming Fair.)
11:00 a.m. We are 4 and 5 on the stand by list. Five people must cancel or die for us to have our way. Maybe the dead body on Sepulveda was supposed to be on this flight! Madi begins to spew venom. I spew back something like hey, I’m killing myself here and I know I’m an idiot but did I even say a single WORD when you rear ended someone FIVE DAYS after you got your license? No! I FORGAVE YOU and how dare you be so selfish ITS JUST A STUPID FAIR people don’t even have teeth there and I’m pulling you out of the business because I cannot even stand the sight of you so how will the world, etc. She says she has nothing to say to me until the end of time. I concur.
11:05 a.m. While re-shoeing in the security line, I spit out “GATE 64” with as much derision as possible and stomp off, leaving her there by herself, struggling into her high heeled Nike’s. Do I care if I she finds her way to Gate 64? I don’t. Let the Russian sex traffickers have her and then maybe she will appreciate how amazing of a mother I am.
11:10 a.m. I go sit down by myself to charge my phone and my computer.
11:11 a.m. MOTHER OF GOD!!! MY COMPUTER!!!!!! I LEFT IT IN A BIN AT SECURITY!!!!!!!
11:30 a.m. I have RIPPED SECURITY A NEW ONE for the last 19 minutes. They don’t have it. It’s gone. COUNTLESS MILLENNIUMS of information lost. I plan my death.
11:45 a.m. Mackenzie, my other daughter, texts “HowRu?” I text back HOW DO YOU THINK I AM I CANNOT FIND MY COMPUTER! She texts back. “Madison has it. You left it at security.”
Still 11:45 a.m. I’m sorry……..MADISON HAS IT!!!!!!!???????? Madison has decided NOT to text me that she has my computer. She wanted me to experience extreme emotions. I would like to her to experience extreme pain. I have watched Game of Thrones and could Ramsay Bolton her like a BOSS.
11:50 a.m. Computer retrieved. Mutual insults hurled. She decides to sue for emancipation (there’s a kiosk) and when the paper work is signed, we sit on opposite sides of the terminal.
NOON The sun is high. All is quiet. I sip my Starbucks.
12:50 p.m. The heavens part slightly and consider us.……Madi and I are called for the last two spaces on a flight to Phoenix which will connect to Atlanta.
1:30 p.m. We board the flight, and I relax for exactly 8 seconds. The flight is delayed, which will keep us from landing until 3. The time of our connection? 3:10. Clearly, God is busy with others. Perhaps in the Congo.
2:59 p.m. As we descend, the captain politely asks the cabin to let people with tight connections get off the plane first. Do people comply? They do not. Everyone gets off the flight in exactly the order they would anyway. Everyone’s suitcase seems especially lodged in their overhead bins. I wish White Walkers upon them all.
3:08 p.m. Like a tight turn on a bobsled track, we shoot OUT of the door from A29, make a quick U-turn and hurl ourselves through the doors of Gate A 30 JUST AS THEY ARE CLOSING. “Can you believe we made it!?”, I joyously shout to Madison from the front of our bobsled, forgetting that we have refused to speak to each other until the end of time. She snivels that she has to pee and hasn’t eaten. I renew my oath not to speak to her until the end of time.
3:10 p.m. We begin to taxi. In a moment of remorse, I hand Madi a bag of trail mix and some water. She smiles weakly and says thanks. Our eyes meet. Silent forgiveness possibly exchanged. We still detest one another, but it’s a start. We nibble a nut. A seed or two. I sit back. Relax. All is well.
3:11p.m. I check my phone.
3:12 p.m. (Silent screaming)
3:13 p.m. I have an audition. Tomorrow. In LA.
3:14 p.m. We sail through the skies, irrevocably east bound. My head hangs in defeat. Madi crunches trail mix.