Saturday afternoon, the day before my 30th birthday, Heather and I dragged our sleep-deprived asses to the airport and got on a plane to Charlotte, North Carolina.
No, come back! It gets better, I swear.
Our already late-night flight was delayed due to weather, so we spent four hours in Charlotte, which was exactly four more hours than we wanted to be there. I whined and fidgeted and complained until Heather told me to go away so she could read. I can say with assurance that I have seen every square inch of the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, from the cigar-store Indian with giant man-breasts to the Stock Car Cafe, and every women’s room and Starbucks in between. It’s not as big an achievement as it sounds.
Finally, our plane arrived and dumped its load of crotchety old people on their way back from Vegas into the airport, many of whom got back on the flight to Miami. I spent the next two hours hearing every single detail of one such woman’s worst vacation ever. Because it was my birthday, I decided to forgo smacking her, but I’ll admit that I did consider it once or twice.
We got to Miami at 2:15am, and Alex was there waiting at the gate. He drove us to the hotel, then showed us around South Beach, which was mobbed even in the middle of the night. I ate black beans and rice and fried plantains at a little Cuban restaurant at 4am, and laughed my ass off at the old waiter, who had it out for Heather. Alex introduced me to Cuban coffee (the cortadito in particular), which was probably a huge mistake on his part, as I’ve been jonesing for it ever since. After dinner, we went to the beach, because my plan was to watch the sun rise over the ocean. I wanted my own perfect 30th birthday moment. And that’s exactly what I got.