As I stood in line to check in, I heard people chatting tensely about being rebooked because their flight had been canceled. Mine, though, was on time and good. As I waited for about 5 minutes, I suddenly saw a DELAYED notice appear beside my flight: a 3.5-hour delay. A delay long enough to make me miss my connecting flight in Dubai.
It was my turn, and I stepped up to the counter with my big bags (see previous post). The young woman said, "hi there, how are you tonight?" I said, "honestly, trying not to cry." She said, "let's take a look."
This encounter became a two-hour waiting game in which I hung out to the side of the check-in counter while she waited on hold to reroute me completely.
The short version of the rest of the story so far is: me getting a brand-new itinerary on a totally different airline to South Africa, me to JFK, me begging for a hotel room so I didn't have to sleep in the airport until 8 am today, me dragging my big bags (see previous post...) on the Airtrain to the hotel shuttle in 30-degree weather, me waking up and dragging my big bags (see previous post...) back to JFK, and me finally arriving at this spot on my journey.
People have told me that you learn a lot about yourself when you travel. I feel like this is true in everything in life if you pay attention, but it's also very easy to get trapped in feeling sorry for myself or focusing on my feelings of anxiety. And this shines a spotlight on something about me that I don't really love.
So last night as I waited for the shuttle, shivering in the cold because I was not wearing winter attire, and fighting back an ugly cry, I met an older couple from Ireland. I listened to the woman's soothing lilt as she told me they had been rerouted from Miami to NYC even though they were leaving for a cruise today out of Miami. I inhaled smoke from a thoughtless guy who walked past me within kissing distance as he exhaled a cloud of Marlboro Light. I listened to beeping, buzzing, and bossiness from a driver who wanted to charge us all $15 to take us to our hotel even though a free shuttle was coming.
I felt the cold and the warmth from all that bag-dragging, and I decided to breathe in and try to take each moment as it comes. I'm not the only traveler. I'm not the only solo flyer. I'm not the only one on an adventure. And maybe, just maybe, if I try hard enough to focus less on the inside and more on what's going on this journey will teach me more than I could have ever hoped.