I sprinted through town, swearing and praying, retracing my steps to absolutely no avail. Everything about Asheville become incredibly irritating as I ran around like the mad hatter, all those people strolling through the narrow sidewalks, all those people who were not having a big crisis, the drum circles- the drum circles were the worst.
Eventually, I had no choice but to slink back home. The wallet was gone and I was done for; I had no ID and no money. I would have given up and moved permanently into Yonton's basement, and that wouldn't have been the worst thing, but I needed to get to New Jersey for business in less than 48 hours. If I didn't, I was certain that I'd lose my job. Damn it, New Jersey!
I tore open that package like a dog. I had an ID now, miraculously, but nothing else.
Not one to give up, Yonton suggested we comb through town, search every back alley and every dumpster. "It's a mission!" He said as he threw back the lid of another trash can, his voice lilting with a barely detectable middle eastern accent. "It's fun!"
Then he took me to the CVS and bought me some Visa gift cards so I could have some money. I just looked at him, wordless in my appreciation, so happy that the world was generous and put us in the same funny disaster of a boarding school thirteen years ago. A lot of bad things happened at that school, one of the boys had just in the past week been awarded five million dollars for what he had endured. But everything that ever happened to me there was good.
Almost everything I guess.
Then a handful of police officers showed up at the gate, and after a few minutes it was announced that our inbound plane had struck a bird and the plane was broken. "You do not want to get on this plane, ladies and gentlemen," said the woman behind the counter. "This plane will be broke for a while."
So I wasn't getting to Philadelphia after all, and I didn't have to worry about hitching a ride into New Jersey. We were turned loose onto the hot pavement outside the airport and told to try again tomorrow. Hauling my giant duffel bag, I climbed into the nearest taxi.
It was the same drive who had picked me up a week before.
"Hey, it's you!" He said.
"It's me, Chris. Take me downtown. I've got some things to think over."
That night I sat outside on David's porch. The smell of hydrangea and drying kayak gear swept over me. When I was younger and more adventurous and less rigid, that smell used to be everywhere, plastic and neoprene mixed with the metallic tang of rapids. I was thinking about the plane crashing into Asheville, my ID disappearing and reappearing, Rachel on the street corner, that country song we listened to in the car. I pictured the plane that was supposed to fly me out of there, the bird smacking into the windshield.
Ok Asheville, I thought. I'll think about it.