You can set yourself up for disappointment. You can believe you’re bracing yourself to soften the sting of the hit you’re expecting. Preparing yourself to be let down, or thinking you are prepared for things not to work out, and actually being disappointed however, are two distinct states of mind. I set myself up for it having written this note to my kids as I jetted off this weekend:
My friends, Bek and Nikki, arranged to metaphorically kidnap me. OK, it’s not really kidnapping if you’re in the know ahead of it, but work with me here. To extend my birthday celebration (not that I need reminding of my age. . .) they ninjaed me with a concert ticket and arranged air transportation for me to Toronto Saturday for Barenaked Ladies’ final show of the Canada150 tour. It was gonna be awesome, they agreed, a conclusion it took me slightly longer to reach.
I felt then and still terribly undeserving. I mentioned a few posts ago that it took a couple days to shush the voices in my head telling me I didn’t deserve it or feel comfortable accepting it. From the day they sprung the news until Saturday afternoon, I told myself it would be no big deal if it didn’t work out, if I ended up missing the show. I’m totally OK, the broken record kept skipping inside my head–it’d be OK if it doesn’t work out. Really. I’m not even supposed to be there.
I, and I shit you not about this, was the first person in the TSA line at Mitchell International Saturday morning. 3:46 was when I queued up, quite surprised to learn that my airport was not a 24-hour airport. Aren’t they all?? Nope. Turns out, our airport is international, but not major league, so I was in the front of the line because I am (mostly) good at following directions (get to the airport a couple hours early for domestic flights), and I was off to rendezvous with my friends in Detroit en route to Toronto. Goofy with sleep deprivation, there’s me flipping my pink Chuck Taylors in the TSA-approved screening bin, removing the quart-sized Ziploc bag stuffed to the gills with condition critical hair styling products, breezing through the x-ray machine, I made it to my gate with more time than I dreamed I’d have. Oh, did I mention it was snowing?
To make this part of the long story short, Delta Airlines had other plans for me Saturday; my originating flight from MKE was delayed nearly 90 minutes, some legit snow-related–people, I am 100% pro-de-icing and pro- not dying mid-air–but the lag was mostly not weather-related. We finally lifted off about ten minutes before my connecting flight WITH MY FRIENDS ON IT in Detroit was to take wing, and completely uncharacteristic of me, I was the picture of zen. Upon landing in Detroit, I could see the plane I was supposed to have boarded. Hey Wendy! You won the lottery! You can’t spend it!
Wordlessly, I wandered over to the re-booking queue, where I waited another 90 minutes. Resigned to play whatever hand Delta dealt, I was a rock while some other passengers crumbled around me–tears, wails, angry yells, cursing. Some passengers were profoundly upset, and I felt for them, wondering what they were missing. Me? Aloof. Hopeful yet resigned at once. I was totally OK. My friend Chantal was already in Toronto, and she kept me company as I pored over options: a train which would get me there at 9:51 PM. Nope. Another airline which would run between $748-1128. Nope. A small regional airport. Nope. I couldn’t get anywhere to get to a place that could get me there on time. The best Delta could offer was a standby seat to somewhere that would maybe get me to another standby seat maybe to land at YYZ at 8:51. Nope.
Still quiet, and still OK: “Can I just go back to Milwaukee?”
That one they could arrange, two standbys and one confirmed 8:00 PM seat later. As I waited, hoping to be called for my first standby, I got a text from Sugar, another of BNL’s finest fans. The snow had turned her off from driving to TO by herself, but if she could pick me up, maybe we could make it together. I stewed on it for a minute, because again–Nobody Better than my fellow fan friends–but soon realized that I no longer held a ticket home. Once I rebooked back to MKE, they cancelled the rest of my ticket. Maybe I could have re-rebooked, but I wasn’t too keen on trust at this point. Delta had kicked me in the shins already.
My “lucky” number came up, and I, along with about eight other standby passengers were granted access back across Lake Michigan. Yep, the quotes around “lucky” are totally fakey quotes because this merry band of interlopers sat on the runway for two hours. Two hours we sat until at last, the pilot announced that our engine problem was “incompatible with flight.” Ooooh, how I do love a creative turn of semantics! Incompatible with flight indeed! Back to the gate we 127 were sent (and yes, I know it was 127 because when you sit at the gate area long enough, you are bound to pick up some random stats about your aircraft), but quickly over to another plane we were rushed. They actually had a plane with the same seating configuration, so all we had to do was haul our collective Team Delta Flight 2300 ass from Gate 53 down to Gate 4.
All was not lost, and I was still totally OK. I ended up sitting next to a woman who reminded me a great deal of one of my high school friends. I asked her if by any chance she happened to hail from my hometown; she did. The lovely woman window seat to mine on the aisle was the older sister of a high school friend of mine, whose daughter also happened to have gone to high school with my niece. Small world and all that! She works at the hospital across the street from one of my schools, small world and all that! I’m now completely up to date on post-Waterford High goings-on, and passed what could have been a torturous afternoon in pleasant company. Neither of us reached our destination, but we reached peace with our waylaid plans. I even spied a sparrow hiding in the terminal. Poor, lost soul. Ain’t nobody getting a flight outta DTW Saturday, not even a true winged creature.
Thirteen hours after arriving at Mitchell International, I returned again. My husband and Number One son were waiting there to bring me home (Nobody Better) and while I was gone a matter of hours, their faces were as welcome a surprise as if I’d been gone a week.
I was still OK about not being in Toronto for the show, because I was home, and I never was supposed to be north of the border anyway.
But then the Facebook posts and pictures started pouring in. All of the sudden, the trip I wasn’t going on, the concert I’d convinced myself I didn’t really feel I had a right to attend, and the day’s long airport chaos settled. I did want to be there. It did matter. I wasn’t totally OK not being part of it. I was elated for my friends–it wasn’t that I was jealous of them being there. It was that I wanted to be celebrating alongside them.
They got to live the plans they laid for themselves originally. The plan went off precisely as it was meant to: without me. I spent about three minutes sniffling over it, right after the girls called me to make sure I was home safely. They were worried about me. Nobody Better kind of friends.
Deck The Halls
Because I missed the boat (or plane for you literal types), I found myself with an unexpected measure of time Sunday afternoon. The pity party long passed, I busied myself with Christmas tree trimming.
I got home from work today to discover my idiot dog had removed thirteen ornaments from the tree. I counted and located twelve, but can be left to no other conclusion: Caleb ate the baby Jesus. I am not exactly religious, but I’m sure that this is not a good sign. I am so mad at him for his vandalism, but his snack stirred up a little laughter. Because I am a horrible person. With wonderful, equally inappropriate friends. Nobody Better, you guys.