A few weeks ago, after participating in one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I have ever seen (congratulations Paula and Declan!) I experienced something sobering. Traveling to Michigan is always an adventure. This time around was a little much, but did not disappoint by means of adventure.
The plan was for a quick weekend trip. Love the Cravens well, connect with family from the mitten, and get out before anything bad could happen. Alas, that is what went wrong. 5 p.m. Sunday evening, a mere 2 hours before I needed to be at the terminal for take-off, my flight was canceled. Over the years I have acquired a lot of grace for airlines and airline personelle. It is a really hard business to be apart of. Imagine for a second you have hundreds of people expecting to be at a destination when the weather, something outside of anyone’s control, forces a change in plans. Everyone in your near vicinity goes from mild-tempered to rampant beasts and your head is the one they want on a stake! I know that isn't how every situation goes, but let’s be real, it’s a hard position to be in. Pray for airline people!
Having an extra day to breathe is never a terrible thing. It allowed me to enjoy a viewing of The Revenant (which for the record was outstanding.) The flight was delayed the whole 24 hour stretch, so I got to the airport on Monday, at the same time I was supposed to the evening before. I enjoyed some banter with one of the security guards about how windy Oklahoma is, and ventured to the gate.
Once at the gate, I prepared for the seemingly quick wait for my flight. It was 10 minutes before the boarding process was scheduled to begin when the gate attendee came over the loud speaker with the news of weather delay of an hour. The fun thing about flying from Traverse City, Mi to Chicago, Ill is that you take off and arrive at the same time! The hour long flight puts you at your destination as if you have never left! So I did the math and noticed I still would have 30 minutes to make my next flight. Easy! No problem! The tiny airplane pulled into the gate. Tiny is actually giving the aircraft some credit. Legally, I don’t know if airlines should be allowed to not make a note of the size of the plane previous to take off. It would be nice if a gate attendant said “This plane is quite easily smaller than your bedroom closet!” Refreshing truth to my large frame. Especially while I hunchback my way to my seat.
The flight itself had no problems. We actually arrived ahead of schedule! My immediate thought, Auntie Anne’s pretzels couldn't shout my name loud enough! But, our pilot had terrible news. No open gates, due to weather delays and challenges. This was when I recognized I would not be making it back to Oklahoma City that evening.
I prepared for the conversation that would ensue. After an 1:30 runway tour, we gated. There was no doubt, my flight was gone. I went to the appropriate gate where the plane was, and sure enough, the okies were gone.
“I apologize, but you missed your flight due to weather, meaning there isn’t a whole lot we can do for you.” That sentence can turn some of the sweetest old ladies into witches real quick. “We are currently setting up cots for people if you would like to report to gate H1 and reserve a cot.” A less common sentence. An intriguing sentence. After trying to get ahold of a hotel, any hotel, all of the hotels in Illinois and Indiana, I hiked to H1. My trip was in vain. The cot selection was lacking. And by lacking I mean nonexistent. Time to get creative.
Backpack and duffle in hand, I found a heater. The duffle turned pillow simply with fluffing. I threw my earbuds in and became entranced by the shuffled melodies of iTunes. It was wishful thinking. My eyes closed at 12:08 a.m. and opened at 2:12 a.m. Solid nap. As I tried to fall asleep again, my surroundings took over. Chicago O’Hare, 2 in the morning, what is my life? I was wide awake with creative stimulus. I took out my camera and began to capture the evening. 2 became 3:30 after what only seemed like seconds. After a stop at McDonalds (praise the lamb for 24 hour services,) I found a new nest. This time 4 a.m. turned to 7:30 a.m. and I was wide awake. I began exploring the airport. Taking in the subtle notes:
-Shirts with the name of a random city; either destination or embarking city.
-Why dress up to fly?
-Guessing professions is hard, impossible in some cases.
-Airports, where introverts and extroverts can both get recharged.
-Ones desire to see people you know meets the pinnacle of least likeliness.
-People watching, people watchers. (It's like inception!)
-Overhearing portions of random phone conversations can totally throw you off! Are you talking to me? Or wait…what? You want chili?
-If someone tries to talk to you the opening line is, without fail, ”where yah headed?"
-Seeing gate cities creates trip possibilities.
-Groups of friends are heightened to the outside perception. They look so much cooler! Truth is, you are just traveling alone.
-Remind your wife that it is hard to care for three kids, bags and sanity! Good luck super mom.
-Honeymooners with inappropriate pda? How do you witness some of the things you see? The definition of “get a room” or a private flight.
-Rolling bags look stupid everywhere BUT airports.
-What are the airport attendants talking about? I want to laugh too.
-Airport workers are one of the strangest demographic of human. Similar to carney but not as creepy.
-Most generic restaurants mixed with things no one has ever heard of!
-Genuinely nice people suck.
-That place doesn't exist! Passing gates where you read the names and you are sure that is not an actual city.
-Awkward eye lock. You meet eyes with a stranger and neither of you can look away, but you try to. You get stuck in this strange “I don’t want to look,” situation.
I walked to the end of each terminal, turned around, and walked every hallway. I was over it!
As soon as the gate of my flight was announced, I made camp, 2 hours before my flight. There I sat, waiting.
When I finally got on the plane it had been 40 hours since I was supposed to be home. It was a rough 40 hours, but I made the most of it! At the end of the day, it wasn’t the worst detour that I could imagine.
At the end of the day, all of life is an adventure! Either we can embrace it or fight it. We can pioneer forward or let life happen. There are twists and turns around every corner. Don't let the challenges get in the way of the opportunities because when the dust settles challenges ARE opportunities.