So I left Saturday for Christmas break. One of my closest friends drove me to the airport like friends have done many times before. We pulled up to the United counter and I got out, hugged my friend and gathered myself and my belongings.
On time departure, I read. Outstanding!
In line I saw an attractive guy who was also becoming increasingly annoyed at the queuing up process. Eventually, I stepped up to the self check-in kiosk and he was beside me.
"Kayley had a little lamb?" he said with a smile.
"Yea, my friends and I exchanged gifts and I love it so I brought it and, yea...she's really soft."
I said good bye,not expecting to see him again. I went through security hoping no one would question why a grown woman was carrying a lamb. Instead all of them asked where I got it and her story. After re-dressing and gathering my belongings again I headed to find food. The only thing I had had that day was Nutella. Not bad,but not terribly filling.
I made my way down the concourse to Gate 5 reflecting on previous times I flew out of Will Rogers.
The last time someone drove me I was leaving for 5 months. Not 3 weeks.
I cried like a woman possessed,despite trying to control my tears.
This time, I was even more well-traveled and anticipating this trip.
I walked down to the gate and heard murmurings that our flight had been delayed until 9 because of weather. A year or so ago I would have been ticked off. But I already factored in the possibility of a delay so was a lot calmer.
I made my way to the bar,but before I did, I saw two exchange students.
There flight to Minneapolis had been cancelled. I offered them my cell, and continued to the bar.
I ordered my drink and watched whatever unimportant bowl game that was on.
The baby faced, blond bartender seemed eager to talk and I obliged by listening.
At the other end of the bar was a frazzled looking woman who I found out had been there since 4:00p.m.
It was 8:3oish by this time.
We exchanged small talk and I gathered that she was on her way to see her mom eventually. The bartender asked me what I was majoring in, if I was Greek and thanked me when I told him I wasn't. I listened to the day he had and tried to encourage him. Soon a girl my age sat down looking annoyed and sad. I gave her a smile and she took it, rightly,as an invitation.
I learned that she was on her way to Cali to surprise her father for his birthday. She was worried that any delay would cut into their time together and was trying not to freak out.
We became travel buddies of sorts.
After talking to the agents to make sure a flight was actually still leaving we headed for our gate.
There's been another delay. Flight ....will now depart at 10:30.
10:30 turned to 10:45 and then finally to 11:00, by this time I made the acquaintance of Amin the guy who made the little lamb quip earlier.
He was reading a book on Jerusalem. One of my favourite topics.
I'm not paying for a hotel, Amin said.
I agree, I chimed in.
We boarded, had a safe flight, and landed in Denver safely.
I didn't see Flight 1404 when we landed,but I saw the culprit. The ice on the tarmac was thick and glistened belying the slickness. I genuflected and thanked God that the worst that had happened was a missed connection. We disembarked and headed to customer service.
Made the acquaintance of a family from OKC who were going skiing. I had noticed the youngest son, he was probably 20, at the airport. His purple skinny jeans,black pea coat and vintage glasses made me smile.
After following his family to another customer service desk we got our vouchers for food and hotel accommodations. I stuck by my new friend and was reminded of Kurt Vonnegut's sons belief that we were meant to help each other through this whatever this might be.
I saw Amin again as we were leaving for the Renaissance.
Sam and I talked about her trip and I continually reassured of her how it would get better.
I hoped it would.
We boarded the shuttle to the Renaissance and met more interesting pilgrims.
Two teenagers on their way to Sioux City traveling for the first time by themselves. A Montanan working in the Netherlands who wanted to return back to Montana. And a woman who was his former classmate.
We were spirited 25 minutes away and deposited at the Renaissance where after wishes of good will towards men, we went to bed. Some to get up mere hours later to try the journey again.
As I went to sleep I couldn't help but be happy.
It wasn't the trip I wanted,but it's the trip I needed and that other people needed.
After heavenly sleep ,I awoke to the History Channel episode about angels and smiled.
I went down to breakfast and saw Amin and we chatted more. He told me about the crazy horse similar to the one in Norman and my heart smiled too.
After a firm handshake and smile, I left and he left to his final destination.
I wish we had exchanged information,because he was a really nice, insightful guy. But it's okay and perhaps better that we were able to converse in that isolated experience and that's it. Who knows.
All it took was a smile.