One of the things I appreciate when I go on a retreat is when the speaker 'gets it'. The first thing that Mary Marcotte told us as we gathered on our first night together is that, "Grace abounds." If we felt like our souls would be better served sleeping in or hanging out by the pool or whatever, we should go and do that instead. 'Grace abounds' soon became a bit of a rallying cry and it was nice to give each other permission to just BE.
Flash forward to almost everyone's travel on Monday and it was a little bit harder to find the grace abounding. Not only is getting off the cruise ship and cattle calling your way through customs incredibly anticlimactic, but the nation was blanketed by bad weather and so many of us were about to face quite the adventure getting home.
I was headed from NOLA to Chicago to mid-PA. Here is my Monday/early Tuesday morning journey:
7:30AM - Served breakfast for the last time by a wait staff that you could easily tell was tired of putting napkins in our laps.
8AM - Begin journey off the boat.
10ish - Arrive at airport, earlier flight to Chicago gone, next one scheduled is the one I am on @ 3.
10ish to 11ish - Beignets and Au Laits with Ruby and Songbird.
11ish - We say good-bye to Ruby after the two of them humiliate me by making me take their picture in the airport. I mean really, does anything say tourist any more than taking your picture in the airport?
12ish - Beers, lunch and Opening Day baseball. I actually found drinking beer helped with the feeling that I was still on the boat. I actually felt steadier on my feet the MORE I drank... and so I drank more than one, something I usually don't do at the airport.
1ish - Receive the following text message from my Mom: "Checked flt - order another round"
1ish to 6ish - Airport fun with Songbird who was headed on the same airline through Washington DC. By this point I had tried to get on that same flight or an earlier one or a later one because that is closer to home than Chicago is, but they were not having it and kept assuring me it was better to stick with what I had.
Songbird's plane was coming from Chicago so she was waiting as well. We snacked, we talked, we drooled over other people's laptops, we recharged her phone, we walked around, we moved away from the farting German, we killed time, we saw other BE'ers show up after having enjoyed a lovely day in NOLA and coming in for their later flights. D'oh!
By this time I have accepted that I am going to be sleeping in the Chicago airport over night and she has accepted that she is staying in DC overnight. She is also concerned for her son, Snowman, who was traveling as well and looked to be stuck in Chicago.
After 6ish - My plane finally loads, I fall asleep almost immediately and the plane leaves the gate.
7ish - I turn on my phone and text Songbird: "Sitting on the NO tarmac" to which she responds: "Yes, I am looking at you."
Apparantly all we had done was turn away from the gate.
7:20ish - Plane heads back to the gate to let off anyone who wants to get out. At this point my luggage is on that plane, but I already know I will have to stay overnight in Chicago. The information they have given me about Tuesday's flights has me not getting home until late afternoon Tuesday and I am starting to seriously miss The Boy. I need to get home and I am not quite sure how to get there. It is tempting to stay on that Chicago-bound plane because at least then I will be one step closer to home.
7:25ish - I call my Mommy who tells me to get off the plane. Her take on it is that there is bad weather everywhere and her experience has been that it is better to get off the merry-go-round and start again in the morning. Plus I could track down BE'ers still in NOLA to stay with whereas in Chicago I would be all alone (except for the 1,000's of other stranded travelers).
7:26 - Ring the bell to let them know I am getting off the plane.
7:28 - GRACE ABOUNDS!!! Receive Songbird text: "Seats on plane. r u ge8tting off?" (the typos attest to how fast she was trying to get me that message because the DC flight she was talking about was boarding)
I got off my plane, got on hers, called my Mom and asked her to come and pick me up. Finally in DC we dropped Songbird off at her hotel (her early flight the next day meant she couldn't come home with us), drove home (a dark and rainy drive) and arrived at my parents' house where I found The Boy sleeping.
By late the next morning I had my van out of the long term parking lot at the airport AND my bag which came in on the first flight out of Chicago.
6:30 AM - The Boy wakes up and sees me there and exclaims, "Mommy! Are you still on the boat?!"
No buddy, I am home and grace abounds.