Wow, it sounds like I’m about to launch into a review about a really bad movie or explain that I have cancer or something. This, my dears, is not the case. Let me tell you the story of ‘the trip’.
As most of you know, when I started blogging on this site in October 2011, I met a girl who was also a blogger and also from Wisconsin. We bonded over a mutual love of zebras, being over-dramatic, and dumb tv shows. We long-distance helped each other make good and bad decisions and, at the end of the day, decided that it was time for us to see each other.
We plotted an intricate plan in which she would drive from where she lived to where I lived (about three hours) and we would hang out for a weekend and have cute picnics together. This, sadly, fell apart for numerous reasons, including the inevitable crushing end of our friendship/romance. It seemed, after she blocked me on every social networking site known to man, that it was simply not meant to be.
Time passed. We both got older. We both moved to different states. We missed each other and just didn’t know it yet. Then, one fateful day, we ran into each other on the internet once again. On a site just as obtuse and obscure as WordPress was back in 2011. Surprise, delight, and tears ensued. Topless Telea allowed tears to pour down her measly chest onto her curved stomach. Too many adjectives.
Reconnecting, we began Skyping every day, for hours on end. She told me about her life in New York and I did Skype topless cooking just because (are you seeing a theme here?). We talked and talked until we were both sure there was nothing more to talk about. We then found something to talk about and life resumed.
Again, we found ourselves making fanciful plans. We both had decent jobs and thought that we could support a trip to see each other in New York City, six hours from the place she had come to call home. We tentatively planned it for the first week of February, even advance requesting a room on AirB&B. But it was not to be. I fell into a financial and living crisis while Lex…helped me out of said crisis.
We abandoned our dreams. She began saving up money for a laptop again while I scraped together spare change to try to find a new place to live. I began couch-surfing; we stopped talking as much. I was busy and she was alone. Call it Heartbreak Hotel or whatever you’d like but what it came down to was not enough time or energy to keep up our friendship. We thought it might be the end…again.
Dun dun dun.
Too bad we’re both too awesome to allow something beautiful to fall apart. I started getting my shit together and we began talking again. It was a challenge at first. We were both in places where we needed to butt heads with something, and me not making time for her was an ultimate betrayal of trust. Basically, we had some shit to work through.
Time passed. We continued to get older, cuter, and maybe wiser. Her boyfriend turned into the ultimate piece of shit. Mine didn’t ever really exist. He was back in Wisconsin and my ability to commit is…vapid. The situation took a turn for the worst when Lex realized she couldn’t live with her man anymore. Emotionally damaged and needing a friend, the two super-buddies reached out one more time into the recesses of the internet in the hopes that someone would fuel their jet (ha. hahaha.).
Somehow, it works. VS (Not Victoria’s Secret) hopped on board the Telex train and powered it all the way to the airport. A confirmation email arrived in my inbox with booked times to fly from Minneapolis to Philadelphia to Erie, where Lex and her friend would pick me up. The flight was scheduled for the very next day. Getting my best panties in a twist, I packed for my adventure. Early the next morning, you could see me walking down the snow-covered streets of Minneapolis with two small bags and my best summer dress.
Don’t ask me why, after 19 years of living in the Midwest, I still feel it necessary to dress like an idiot during the cold months. I couldn’t explain it to you if I tried.
We take a short break in our story to inform you of some key information you might need to know for this next tidbit. Two months ago, I lost my ID somewhere. Being a couch-hopping, Minnesota resident now, I was incapable of finding a way to renew it or get a new one altogether. So I was left with an 8.5×11 sheet of printer paper with my photo ID photocopied onto it.
This is something I advise against having when trying to fly somewhere. It is not considered an acceptable form of ID and you will be subjected to a TSA standardized validation process. Basically it’s a whole extra screening. When I read about it, it seemed pretty mild. They would look through my bags, pat me down, ask a few questions about my mom…
Sadly, that is not what happened. Kudos to TSA for still making it an expedited experience but comfortable and easy? I think not. They asked me the date of birth of my mother, my father, and one other close relative. They required maiden names, social security numbers, phone numbers, state of birth, etc. After the questioning was done, they screened my bags, testing the clothes and items with little strips tests that I think were meant to find chemical traces?
After this was all said and done, I was patted down and then strip searched. Yes, my dears, a nineteen year old cute while female was subjected to airport humiliation and crossed boundaries. It happens sometimes.
Finally, I was cleared to fly. I excitedly walked to my gate, ready to take off into never-never land…only to find I was three hours early for my flight. Having come prepared with a book, I settled in to enjoy the fine company of Terry Pratchett. Finally, it was 1:48pm. FINALLY I was going to leave. Set off to see Lex’s face in person for the first time. I hurried to the bathroom to dispose of my nervous urine waste and then hurried back to the terminal.
Forty-five minutes later and no airplane in sight, I begin freaking out. Full-blown panic-attack mode. I’m brow-furrowed studying my ticket for inconsistencies. Maybe I went to the wrong gate. Maybe I’m in the wrong terminal. Maybe the flight is tomorrow. Instead of being a logical person and, you know, asking someone, I make the executive decision to just wait at my gate and see if the plane decides to suddenly show up two hours late.
“Tee-lee Dodge, will you please come check in at Gate E-4 to discuss your flight information?”
Uh-oh. Maybe I’ve been denied passage into Narnia. Maybe Armageddon has arrived. My mind must be diseased and I’m probably just in a dream where all of my worst fears are coming true when it comes to air travel. I’m going to look down and realize I’m not wearing pants and my luggage is in India and my ticket has been canceled and I’m stuck in Iowa.
Nay, none of this happens to be true. I walk up to E-4 and address the flight attendant and she informs me that the flight was so delayed that I would miss my connecting flight in Philly and so they – US Airways – switched my flight over to United Airways and I was on a plane out at 6pm. At this point, I think this is the worst news I’ve ever heard in my life.
I have a panic attack. I cry in front of hundreds of people. I call my mom…twice. I am full-blown raging with fear and lunacy. Finally, I calm down. I reason with myself. The flight is going to be only two hours later. Don’t panic, man. Life is good. I am sent to Gate E-8 to pick up my new boarding passes. I stand in line for one hour only to be told that since my flight is at six and it’s only four…I’m going to have to come back.
Again, I snap into panic mode. To a girl who has never flown solo or had to deal with any airport situations on her own at all, two hours is NOT enough time to get boarding passes, get to the gate, and successfully board a flight. My solution is to go get some food to pass the time.
Here comes another side-story filled with wretched anger and indignation. If you’re going to put a Burger King…in an Airport…you should do it with the same prices you charge not in an airport. This will get you booming business and everyone else will suffer except you. It’s beautiful. What you should not do is charge seven dollars for a chicken sandwich and then serve me a poor excuse for a chicken nugget on a soggy bun. That is highway robbery and I will not stand for it. Except for six hours ago when I totally stood for it.
I finish my food and return to E-8 for my boarding passes where I am told by an older woman who calls everyone ‘babe’ that “That flight has also been delayed due to weather and so you will miss your connecting flight if you board it.”
Oh. Fucking. Joy.
“Here, I’m going to turn you over to Wendolynn who will work on a new flight with you.”
Thanks, Patrice. You’ve been a real help to me in my hour of need. At this point, there are tears silently streaming down my face as Wendolynn searches for new flights and comes up with nothing. After 20 minutes, I’m ready to call it quits and kudos to her for looking for so long for a flight that probably isn’t there…just because a cute, desperate, crying girl is being cute and desperate and also, well, crying.
I ask her if there’s any way she can issue a refund and she says yes, but tells me to hold on a minute.
“I might have found something.” My hear soars into the air the way I should have been hours previously and then sinks again. I am not prepared for the false prophet even one more time. Please do not do this to me. Please let this be real.
“I can get you on a flight to Chicago at 7 pm. From there, you’ll catch a flight to Cleveland, Ohio tomorrow morning at 6:30. After a layover in Cleveland, I can get you on this flight to Erie. You’ll be there by 2. I can book it right now.”
Now let me hear you say AMEN.
HAIL WENDOLYNN, EVERYBODY.
We book the flight and I call Lex to make sure it’s okay. She informs me that, hell or high water, there will be someone at the airport to pick me up. I cry again. I find a place to plug in my laptop. I get my boarding passes. I charge my phone. I make continuous strange eye contact with an older gentleman that bears a haunting resemblance to Mr. Bean. I sit next to a cute guy who keeps almost talking to me. I act like a fifteen year old girl and chicken out on talking to him. We’re both going to Chicago. He gets on the other plane. I pout.
Finally, I am boarding my plane. Finally, I am sitting in an airplane with all of my stuff. Finally, after 10 hours of sitting at MSP, I am going somewhere.
The flight takes off, as flights do, and in just over an hour, I am stepping off an AA Airplane onto Illinois land, blessing the very ‘O’hare Airport’ terminal grounds that I walk on. I have arrived at my first destination. I’m actually on the way. It’s not a pipe dream, I’m really going to Narnia…or Jamestown, New York.
After buying another book, walking forever to find terminal one, and confirming my flight details, here I am. Sitting at a Wifi port that I paid too much money to connect to and typing out this glorious story. I am 408 miles closer to Lexi. I haven’t cried in at least four hours.
As I sit in this mostly-empty terminal, I reflect on the day. Mostly by writing about it and posting it on the internet. Despite all of the stress, the panic, the bad tickets. Despite my literal airport shop of horrors coming true, I am here. I am on my way. I am, again, a traveling, wayward soul in search of something possibly greater than me, possibly just kisses and pizza.
I am ready for whatever challenge I have next. I am ready for the next fourteen hours in and out of airports, the two hour drive back to Lex’s, whatever comes next. I forgot that my fear of bad things happening is my defense mechanism against my flight mechanism. I am reminded that, at the end of the day, I can get my head together. I can make it. And I will. Today Chicago. Tomorrow Ohio, Philadelphia, New York. Later, the world. Bring it on.
With many hugs and kisses from wherever in the world I happen to be next, I love you all…and safe travels.