By Leah S. Dunaief
This year, when we attended the annual Publishers’ Conference, we experienced high anxiety adventures on both land and sea. Well, in a manner of speaking.
The gathering of about 40 publishers was held at a venerable hotel in Boston.
We had a nice enough room overlooking some of the downtown, and it wasn’t until the second day that I noted what seemed to be a solitary fruit fly or gnat, perhaps, flying around my head as I was reading. Not paying much attention, I swatted at it, missing it, and continued to read. Later that day, I saw another-or was it the same fellow-in the bathroom? This time I managed to catch him and do him in.
Deciding to pay attention to what might be turning into a private battle, I stopped at the desk in the lobby on my way to the next workshop and explained the situation to the clerk, who might have regarded me dubiously but nonetheless agreed to send up a combat team to the room. They, too, seemed unconvinced until we spotted two more such bugs hanging out on my pillow. They sprayed, assured us the problem was solved, and left, telling us there were no other rooms. Busy with the conference, I accepted that decision and went on with my schedule.
That night, in the dark, we were bitten. Nervously, we awaited the dawn, and upon our dire accounting to the front desk clerk, the management changed our room.
Victory at last. And the hotel did graciously extend an accommodation on the tab when we checked out.
But the excitement in our trip was not ended. We were supposed to leave for home Saturday afternoon. Remember what the weather was like this past weekend? Right around the time of our planned departure, a tropical storm with ferocious winds was moving toward the New England coast from the South and another storm was about to batter the shore from the Atlantic, We were between them.
Should we go? Should we stay an extra day? We would be driving into the teeth of the ex-hurricane, even as we were fleeing the storm at our backs. And what about the ferry? We had hoped to sail home on the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry for that last lap, saving ourselves an extra hour-and-a-half drive. Would it be running? If so, did we want to be aboard in the midst of the tempest?
We loaded our luggage into the car, waved good-bye to the several people who told us they would be praying for us, and headed toward the Mass Pike.
To our great relief, the drive from Boston to Bridgeport, while sometimes in a mild rain and under black skies, was an easy and a fast one. The usual traffic on that route had been scared off the roads, the predicted thunder and lightning had not yet appeared, and when we called the ferry company en route, they told us they were still running “for now.”
We waited in the ferry loading area for 50 minutes as daylight ended, it began to pour, and until the next boat arrived. We were rewarded, after they unloaded, by being the first car to board.
“Was the crossing difficult?” I nervously asked several crew members as I drove on. “It was rough!” came the answer. At least they didn’t sugar-coat, I thought.
The boat rocked, pitched from side-to-side, and anything not tied down crashed to the floor as we powered across the Sound. An occasional loud slam that shook the ferry when we hit a large wave, further reminded us what the water was like in the darkness. We were ordered to sit; the food concession was closed. Some passengers covered their faces. And then it was over.
“Look, lights!” Someone yelled. We had crossed in under an hour, the fastest in my experience. The overhead door opened in front of us, and as the large ferry was artfully ushered to its dock, we marveled at the skill of the captain.
And then we were home. We slept well that night.