Washers and dryers give me a false sense of reality. I feel like I’m accomplishing more than I am right now. Although clean sheets and socks will be nice. Anyway, for as long as I sat in the airports and on airplanes this weekend, I actually did accomplish quite a bit.
After work on Friday, I drove myself to the airport. This is a major accomplishment, folks. I’ve never driven myself to the airport. Someone has always been my ride to and from MSP. I felt like a grown up.
Friday night at MSP was a bit insane. Only two security check-points were open. And the one I chose was full of families with small children, elderly, and the crabbiest TSA agent ever. And only one lane was open. The “crabbiest TSA agent ever” barked at everyone in line and said “If you want a check-point with more lanes, go to check-point six. They are fully staffed and have six lanes open.”
I ducked out of line and went to check-point six. I met my best-friend along the way. We bonded over the “crabbiest TSA agent ever” and discussed how she clearly didn’t want to be working on a Friday and was jealous of check-point six’s fully staffed six lanes. While in our new line, we chatted about our weekend plans. She, too, was headed to the same city for a quick weekend away. We talked about our hometowns (same hometown!), jobs, and siblings. Our paths split before I had a chance to ask her name, but it was obvious, we were best friends.
The flight to my destination was uneventful. Other than some rough air in a few patches. The plane landed. I inquired on how to find my hotel shuttle. Followed the directions. And hopped on my shuttle. This too was new, people. I’ve always had someone pick me up at my final destination. Grown up status once again.
The hotel check-in process was smooth. I received water bottles, a room key, and a breakfast voucher. My room was clean. There was a king size bed, tv, mini fridge, ironing board, desk, and plenty of space for one night. I placed a long-over due phone call and penciled in more travel plans for the fall. A trip I am super excited about.
My Friday night was introverted. Just the way I like it. I purchased snacks in the hotel pantry, pulled on PJ’s, and ironed my outfit for the next day. The TV kept me company as I channel surfed and ate my snacks. A storm rolled through Chicago, but I slept hard and woke fairly early the next morning. I cashed in on my breakfast voucher in the hotel restaurant, returned to my room, and continued leisurely preparing for my day.
I texted my ride to a neighboring town and checked out of my room. My ride, my friend’s brother (also my friend) and my friend’s husband, showed up just in time. I said my hello’s and climbed in the backseat with Easton’s by my side an an Adventure’s in Oddyssey cd. On the way to the church, we were going to my dear friend’s wedding, my friend’s husband answered his phone. It was my friend, his wife, calling to ensure I had been picked up. Not surprising, he pretended he had forgotten me and I was envisioning my friend freaking out. Finally, he relieved her of his teasing and said he had indeed picked me up.
Once at the church, we found our way to where the groomsmen were hanging out. I hugged my friend – the one who had a mini-heart attack when she thought I was still in my hotel. We commented on dresses, hairstyles, and how long it had been since our last visit (last June at her wedding). I said hello to the bride’s brother whom I’d met last June. We caught up briefly on life and I asked if he’d bought a bike. It had been the crisis of his 2012 summer. He laughed and said he had finally found a great bike. Bike as in bicycle. It’s a long story.
Walking through more back-hallways in the church, we found the groom and said a quick hello. Then the father of the bride gave us a round of hugs and hand-shakes. He told us a funny story about a tux mix-up. Very typical for his family. And was on his way.
The ceremony was sweet, short, and sacred. We clapped when the couple was announced.
More hugs in the lobby with brides-maids, the sister of the bride – also a friend of mine. The reception was held at the church. The theme, decor, and atmosphere were casual and perfect for the new Mr. and Mrs.
My table consisted of my friend’s brother (aka my friend), my friend’s husband, my friend’s friend and her boyfriend, and my friend’s brother’s friend and his girlfriend. We chatted and enjoyed the apps and dessert. I received two updates regarding my flight out and switched planes so I could enjoy more time at the reception. In disgust, I mentioned that I had a long layover at DTW, to which my friend’s friend said, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.” I informed him (a college hockey player) it was a bad thing and asked if he was a Red Wing’s fan. Yep. He was. My friend’s brother (aka my friend) piped in and said, “Yeah, he has the Red Wings logo tattooed on his chest and ‘Datysuk’ tattooed on his back.” The guy is from Chicago but cheers for the Wings. Who does that? Oh wait, I am from Minnesota, but cheer for the Blackhawks. Ok, so I guess it’s not that crazy. Except he is a Wing’s fan. So that is crazy.
Unfortunately, my time at the wedding reception with friends was much-too short. I snapped some photos with the bride, my friend, and my friend’s brother (aka my friend) before my return trip to ORD.
I was crunched for time and felt like I needed ADD meds to get through the long security line at ORD. I met a new best friend while waiting. We bonded over the length of the line, switched to a new lane, and then regretted our choice.
My time at the gate was short-lived, but I was able to juice up my phone a bit before heading to DTW. When I found my seat, a mom was stuffing her carry-on above my row. The couple in front of me asked if I was in their row, but I said no and indicated to the row behind them. The mom, frustrated with her carry-on, let out an exasperated sigh and once again, readjusted her bag so I could fit mine in, too. I noted the eye-roll from the woman in the seat in front of me and tried to stifle my laugh.
Once in DTW, I realized the length of my stay. I arrived at 6:45. My flight wasn’t schedule to depart until 12:12. I checked out my other options. I could leave DTW at 8:18 and go to ATL and then back to MSP. Ugh. I found a ticketing agent and he said I could run to the next gate over and try to get on the direct flight to MSP. The agent there was able to find room on the flight. But then things got all confusing. I hadn’t heard any of the final boarding calls and realized that the people still sitting at the gate were heading to Philadelphia. It was an oh-crap moment when I saw that the door had closed. One traveler yelled over to me, “It’s OK, she has to come back up. They’ll let you on the plane.” Everyone watched in anticipation for the agent to come back up. It was like that scene in movies where everyone is pulling for the main character to get on the flight so she can declare her love to the guy she’s letting get away. It was just like that. Minus the guy waiting on the flight. Details.
The agent came back up and everyone held their breath as I ran over to her and explained that I hadn’t heard the final boarding call. She tried to get me down on the flight but the plane’s door was shut. The edge-of-their seat passengers heading to Philly, gave me sympathetic looks. My original boarding pass was re-booked, meaning I had to wait until 12:12 to leave DTW.
I asked for a food voucher and was glad for the meager $6.00 for my inconvenience.
After a burger and fries in concourse A at DTW, I purchased a David Baldacci book, some water, and Skittles. I found my gate, read, charged my phone, and waited.
A young kid, probably 13, sat on the floor next to the charging station and charged his phone. I noticed him scrolling through Instagram and was inspired to check mine. A few minutes later, the tram went past us. He jumped up, snapped a photo, and I saw him madly typing on his phone. He returned to his seat on the floor and I asked, “Instagramming?!” He laughed and said,”No, Snapchat.”
And that was the start of our own chat.
I discovered that he was traveling with his dad from Mexico. They don’t have indoor trains in Mexico, so he wanted to show his friends. I told him I’m not cool enough for Snapchat, but that I love Instagram. He said both are popular in Mexico. I asked if Minnesota was his final destination. It was. MOA was on his list of activities, along with a trip to Lake Superior. I told him to eat at Grandma’s.
As we chatted, I noticed an older woman watching us; smiling and approving of our conversation. My new buddy told me places to visit in Mexico. We returned to our respective activities. My David Baldacci book was just starting to pull me in. Later, past my regular bed-time, I heard my friend and the older woman talking. In Spanish. I was amazed at his respect toward this woman. A woman who could easily be his abuela. He held his own in the conversation, made her smile, and enjoyed talking with her.
It was in that moment that I realized how much I love traveling. Not the long layovers in enemy territory, nor the over-priced airport food. Just the people. The places they’re from. The stories you hear. The paths you intersect.
It’s been a while since my last late-night flight. Above the clouds, seeing the cities and towns below lit up, I felt small. As though my worries and cares in life are a small speck of light in a big world.
That’s what a weekend away does for me. It makes me forget what’s really happening. And focus in on important things.
Like traveling to see friends. Laughing. Remembering. Creating new memories. Sharing life with strangers.
My laundry needs folding. More clothes need to be washed. I guess that’s my cue to get back to work.
But I’m pretty sure I accomplished more than I ever imagined this weekend.