This past weekend I met with a remarkable group of LDS women at their annual Rocky Mountain Retreat in the mountains above Denver. Initially, I planned to go in order to support my pal Lisa, who was addressing the group about the genesis, growth, and direction of her blog, and to meet other like-minded women (read: Mormon feminists). I really wasn’t prepared for the sense of connection I immediately felt with the people there, and the remarkable combination of excitement, acceptance, curiosity, sisterhood, and warmth that prevailed throughout our time together. I already miss them.
Friday morning at 7, Lisa and I stumbled sleepily out of her friend’s car onto the sidewalk in front of the airport, in front of United’s curbside checkin. We didn’t know if we should check our luggage or carry on, and the dude at the checkin said our bags looked a little big. I’m not sure how he knew that for sure, because he was staring at Lisa the whole time, and I think the reason he forgot to give us claim stubs was because she’d cast her Redheaded-1000watt Smile Charm on him. I think he just wanted Lisa to have to show him her ID and then write out the luggage tag so he could get her phone number. As we walked away, he called, “Anything else I can do for you ladies?”, which Lisa took as trolling for tips (oops, we only had twenties) but I’m sure was actually him seeking a last desperate exchange with her.
Bypassing the looooooong line at United, we headed for the ticket kiosk, only to find that something was up with our flight and we’d have to stand in line after all. No biggie, we got there in plenty of time, but the line did. not. move. About half an hour later we learned that something was wrong mechanically with the plane, and that the agents were trying to move passengers to other flights. It took another hour for our turn with Mr. Grumpy, who informed us that all the flights to Denver–including other airlines–were full until 5pm. At the time, we thought Lisa was slated to be speaking at 5pm, and when she protested that she had to be “giving a talk” at that time, he said we could try a standby at noon. Discouraged, we went through security and up to the gates, but then decided to work the system on our own: we went to the gates of other airlines and asked the agents there about direct or connecting flights to Denver, until we found ONE SEAT on Frontier that would get there on time; I had told Lisa to say that she was the “keynote speaker” at a retreat. We asked why we hadn’t been told about the seat at the United counter, the Frontier agent told us that United saves seats for their Extra Snazzy Million-Miler Uptight Premier customers, something my frequently-travelling husband has run up against. Frontier couldn’t release the seat to us until United gave Lisa an eticket , so we had to go back to the ticket counter and stand in The Line From Hell again, hoping that there wasn’t an ESMMUP customer who would get the ticket before us. I called John and asked him about some obscure United rule he had told me about: Rule 403. It states that United has to provide transportation that is acceptable to the customer, whether on their own or another airline. Lisa and I put on our Mean Eyes and confronted Mr. Grumpy again, ready to hit him with his own rule if need be. He said the Frontier seat wasn’t showing up, but printed out the ticket anyway. We asked about the luggage, and only then realized that we didn’t get claim stubs from Mr. GooglyEyes out front. The answer was not encouraging.
We couldn’t worry about that, though; we had to see if we could still get the Frontier seat. We headed down to the Frontier counter, manned by Nicholas. Lisa was upset about the possiblity that we wouldn’t fly together, and she combined the Redhead-1000Watt Smile Charm with the Stomach-to-Heart-to-BrainMush Charm:
Lisa: If you can get us both seats on this flight, I will make you an Almond Chicken Curry that is to die for. I’ll even bring it to you.
Nicholas, grinning: I’m allergic to almonds.
Lisa: Almonds are icky. I will never, never make Almond Chicken Curry again. But my Green Curry is famous. People rave about it. You will love it. Get us both on that plane and I’ll bring you Green Curry for a week.
Nicholas, grinning some more, and typing furiously: Well, we do still have the one seat. We could try standby for the other ticket, if you want. There’s a good chance you could both get on.
Lisa, adding in the Narcissism Charm: If I have another baby, I will name it Nicholas.
We went back through security, but this time I had the misfortune of a random security screen, getting frisked and having all my belongings rifled. Then, the scanner showed nitrates on my sandals (we’ve got six horses), so I had to be Xrayed again. Once it was determined that I wasn’t going to be setting my shoes alight in-flight, we headed for the gates. I was on standby for both the United flight at noon and for the Frontier flight just ten minutes later, and as it turned out, I had a spot on the United flight and there was room for Lisa, too. We made a last minute decision that she’d stick with her Frontier plane because that’s where her checked luggage would probably be. We are such suckas.
On the plane, my seat mate was a 60-year-old ex-Army nurse on her way to Texas. She was very interesting, and also interested in the idea that I was going to a gathering to discuss Mormon feminism. She had taught at Ricks College for a time, and, as all teachers at LDS schools do, submitted to questions asked of her by a General Authority. “It was one of the most sexist, invasive moments of my life,” she said, but without a trace of bitterness–more amusement, really. “And,” she said, “once I got past the proselyting thing with my Mormon neighborhood, I really enjoyed the Mormon people and respect them very much. But,” she added, “because of my profession I did notice that there was a high incidence of depression among the Mormon women who were expected to have child after child and be fulfilled by it. I wish there had been more of a tolerance for feminism back then . . . good for you and the others you will be meeting with.”
Once we got to Denver, I met up with Lisa (hooray for cell phones!), and we looked in vain for our luggage. The lack of claim stubs haunted us again, but we were told that our bags were probably on the 5pm flight they had originally booked us on, and that they would be delivered to the lodge at the retreat.
The long-suffering Emily, to whom Lisa had been giving cell-phone updates on our travel traumas, was waiting for us in a green Jeep, and after lunch at a 50’s diner, a sojourn into a grocery store for potluck ingredients, and missing a few turns on the freeway, we finally made it to Snow Mountain Ranch.
Since this post is too long already, I’ll save the details of the retreat for another post. In the meantime, check out Bored in Vernal’s posts about the retreat and her kewl slideshow of the photos she took. You may see a couple of photos of a woman in a lime green shirt who is showing her “Walk This Way” groove–I stayed far away from her!