The plane sits on the tarmac. It is time to board but we are not boarding. I have two batteries for my oxygen concentrator. They last about 3.5 hours each. The flight is 6 hours.

A few minutes after boarding time, they tell us. "There is an electrical problem on the plane. We are waiting for the mechanic. We won't board yet."

There aren't even groans. It has been four days of a snowstorm paralyzing DC and Northern Virginia. After the drivers backed up for 40 miles on I95 North and in their cars overnight at 29 degrees, some people for 24 hours, I think everyone is mostly glad that the problem has been found on the ground, not in the air.

We wait.

We board an hour and twenty minutes late, quiet, masked. There are children on the plane and babies but they are very quiet too. For the whole flight, five hours and 45 minutes. Each person is in their own quiet masked bubble. The people on either side of me both watch movies. None of us say anything beyond necessary. I failed to load the correct program to watch movies on this airline, so I read and write in my journal, think and sleep. I write 3 Christmas/Valentine cards and a thank you and run out.

I message the friend who is picking me up before we take off. It's four am her time. Sorry. She answers. She can still get me at the Bainbridge ferry terminal. I look at the ferry times and suspect I will not make the 1:10, so the 2:05.

We land and deplane as quietly as we got on and as quietly as we made the trip. People have barely spoken the whole way. Fear of Covid-19 Omicron. I have a clay straw in a small box and slide it under my N 95 and surgical masks to drink coffee.

We go to baggage and claim our bags. It is raining hard so I choose a taxi instead of the light rail. Light rail is cheaper but I would have to walk about ten blocks with my baggage and I am tired. I have turned the oxygen down to make it last longer. When I pull the bags, I run it back at 2 liters instead of one.

The taxi takes me downtown to the ferry docks. They are busy with construction, a new ferry terminal and taking down the overpass. It is noisy. I have to walk quite a ways with the bags to get to the elevator, but I get there. Upstairs I buy my ticket and then go in the terminal. There is a huge fan that is very noisy and I walk back out. I wait for the ferry under a bit of shelter. There are construction workers welding under yellow umbrellas. Welding umbrellas, that are fixed to I-beams. This seems like a Seattle thing, the winter here. It is around 40 degrees and not snowing.

I board the ferry. It is a 25 minute ride, Seattle dwindling in the distance. I love the ferries. I hope to see an orca or a whale in the Salish Sea some day. I haven't yet.

My friend arrives about five minutes after we disembark. We both stay masked. She is pleased that I was double masked the whole trip. We talk on the way home. When we are nearly to the Hood Canal Bridge, all my muscles relax. I am going to get home, I think.

We stop for gas and at her office, she left something that she needs at home. Another physician. Then she takes me home. She helps with the two heavy bags. I replaced the stuff for my kids and future daughter in law with a few rocks that I find in Roanoke, Rockville, DC and Arlington, and with presents from them. I only buy one book at the National Gallery, though I want two. I buy the smaller one on sale.

She helps me drag the bags up the steps and we open the door of my house. The cats come running. It has been two weeks and they are BIGGER. They are now larger than Boa Black, who I had for 17 years. I didn't realize what a small cat she was. She topped out at about 7 pounds. Elwha and Sol Duc are 9 or 10 at least, already and not a year old yet.

My friend leaves and I sit on the floor, talking to the cats. They are amazed: they thought I was gone forever or dead. They climb on my lap in the kitchen and purr and purr and purr. I talk to them. Then I clean the catbox and sweep, there is catbox dust all over the kitchen. I should wash the floor, but I am so tired. I replace the wood pellet litter. I find an apple and a small hunk of cheese and eat those. I did eat during the day, gorp and a fruit/nut bar, chocolate and some potato chips, but no fresh fruit or vegetables.

I go upstairs with the cats. They are amazed. You are staying the night? their tails say. No one has stayed for two weeks. I brush my teeth and get ready for bed. The cats climb on the bed and purr and purr and purr. I have my oxygen on. I stroke them for a long time and then read a little bit of a dumb romance that I was reading before I left. Lights out.

I have not let the shade down and light comes in the window. The cats keep changing position. Elwha wants to be right by my head and at various times he tries lying right across my face, as if to be sure that I am there. With the oxygen on, I can breathe in spite of fur. Sol Duc is a little shyer but she moves right next to my face. She creeps under the covers and snuggles next to my chest. Later she is not there and Elwha sneaks in. I am in a sort of fuzzy haze of purring, sometimes one by each ear. They are very loud and the light is wrong. I am not sure if I am sleeping or not. I get up to the bathroom. I lay down at about 5:30. It is 7:30. Then 10:30. I get up to close the curtain and I consider getting up, but lie back down.

I wake later. The cats are still with me, but one is snoring a little, softly. They are both solidly asleep. I lie and listen to them for a while, enjoying my bed and the cats and being home.

I get up and it is 2:00. It is 5:00 on the east coast, and it's been 9.5 hours since I lay down.

I go downstairs, make tea, plug the computers back in and start watering the orchids. I am unpacking. I am thinking.

What next?

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