Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Adventure

Every year, I get excited for Christmas. And every year, it ends up being a huge pain in my ass. Usually, I get post-traumatic amnesia and by the time December rolls around again, I've forgotten what a pain in the ass it is and get all excited again until the cycle repeats itself and crushes my soul. But last year's journey home was so exceptionally ridiculous, I haven't forgotten. I anticipate this Christmas with a mixture of excitement, fear, trepidation and an overwhelming need for wine. Last year, as the fuckery was raining down on me, I took a journal and documented every humorous, tragic and ridiculous moment. Here is how my Christmas 2008 began...and here's hoping for better luck in 2009:

The Holiday Meltdown: Diary of a Weary Traveler

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

4:20 AM: My eyes flutter and open slowly to the sound of my old, blue, reliable alarm clock. I roll over in my warm, soft bed with its down comforter and snoring dog. A wave of excitement passes through me. I am going home!
I crawl out of bed slowly, trying not to wake Mr. W or the dog.

4:35 AM: As I get dressed, my thoughts wander to the wonderful holiday moments that lay before me. After a short flight to Seattle, I will enjoy breakfast and Starbucks coffee before hopping a flight to Yakima. Once there, I have so much to look forward to. There will be Christmas Eve at my uncle and aunt’s house, a beautiful sunrise Christmas church service with my mother, gifts, cookies, get-togethers with friends, family memories made.
I am attending an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” party tonight. It won’t fit into my carry on, so I throw on the black, snowflaked monstrosity. Who cares if a few people on the plane see it? I’m going home!

5:40 AM: Mr. W and I have nearly reached the airport when we encounter our first snow-related car accident. After a few minutes of panic, I relax. It hasn’t delayed us in our journey. I’m going home!

5:50 AM: Mr. W. drops me off at my gate and I kiss him goodbye. He is driving our present-filled car home tomorrow after work.

6:04 AM:
I sit at my departure gate, sipping bottled water and feeling rather smug. I’ve already checked in, made it through security, and am ready for my 7 am departure. I packed all my necessities into my cute new Betsey Johnson carry on bag. I mentally pat myself on the back. What a smart idea, flying instead of driving! This way, I won’t miss any of the festivities due to Mr. W’s work schedule or the awful weather.

6:10 AM: There is a woman next to me with three very young kids. They are obviously preparing to welcome their father home from wherever the military has stationed him. The woman is doing her best to keep them controlled. I admire her efforts. The kids are talking loudly, expressing their amazement at the snow and planes. How cute.

6:40 AM: We were supposed to have begun boarding ten minutes ago. There have been no announcements yet. Fortunately, I have plenty of time to catch my next flight, so I’m not concerned. I’m going home!

6:50 AM: Judging from the smell radiating from my left, I would guess that all three of the adorable young children have soiled themselves simultaneously. Although I know their mother is doing her best, I do wish she would encourage her little darlings to use their inside voices. I haven’t had my coffee yet. I am saving it for Seattle, where the Starbucks coffee doesn’t have the moldy excrement flavor of the Spokane International Airport lattes.

6:59 AM:
I hear an announcement, miraculously, over the screeching of what I have now dubbed The Shit Family. Our plane is still being warmed up and there appears to be a mechanical issue.
I walk away from The Shit Family and get a cup of moldy excrement coffee, which isn’t half bad with multiple pumps of various syrups. I remind myself not to be annoyed. It’s snowing, after all. They’re doing their best. These things happen.

7:20 AM: Apparently, our plane flew into Spokane last night, where it remained untouched for seven hours. The mechanical problem turns out to be a cold airplane.

I am surprised that people intelligent enough to fly an aircraft have just now realized that said aircraft will be a little cold after spending a night in sub zero temperatures.

7:30 AM: The flight begins boarding rows 20 and higher. I am in row 20 so I make my way through the crowd of pushy travelers who seem to think that they must board immediately or the plane will leave without them.
The lady checking the boarding passes asks a couple to give me room and they grunt angrily at me. I do not hit them over the head with my Betsey Johnson bag because it’s Christmas. And, at last, I’m going home!

7:55 AM: I’m still waiting on that “going home” thing. Apparently, warming up a plane takes longer than just driving to Yakima.

8:08 AM:
I receive a text message from Alaska Airlines that my 7 am flight has been delayed. Gosh, thanks so much, Alaska. That must be why I’m still sitting on the ground nursing my moldy excrement coffee.

8:11 AM: I am wedged between an older man in a suit with severe morning breath and a college-aged kid. The Shit Family, judging from the smell, is in front of me, to my left. The old woman directly in front of me clearly has advanced pneumonia. She coughs her germs repeatedly into the recycled air. What a bitch.

8:21 AM: Just as our plane begins to taxi and I am being told by Olga, the stewardess, to shut my phone off to prepare for take off, I received another text from Alaska Airlines. My flight to Yakima has been canceled.
That figures. Alaska/Horizon has handled the snow situation like a bunch of pussies. They’ve canceled every flight to Yakima since Saturday. Why not throw in another for good measure, despite the fact that it isn’t even snowing and the weather girl on the news dubbed this a good day to fly?
I have a back up plan. There is an airport shuttle service from Seattle to Yakima. I text Mr. W, who will get online and reserve me a spot. I also text my dear friend Sydney who is driving from Seattle to Yakima today letting her know I might need a ride.
Olga glares at me. I shut my phone off like I was told.
9:47 AM: We arrive in Seattle. I have two texts. The first is from Sydney. There is no room in her car. The second is from Mr. W. The shuttles from Seattle to Yakima are all full.

10:05 AM: I attempt, in vain, to get another flight to Yakima. There is only one more flight scheduled today, and it is, of course, full. The woman at the ticket counter tells me I can fly home on December 27th or “may want to consider renting a car.” Gee, thanks.

10:55 AM:
I have spent $15 in internet fees attempting to schedule myself a shuttle. At last, I find an open spot…. Departing at 11:30 PM, scheduled to reach Yakima at 2:45 am. This is not what I had in mind when I pictured a relaxing trip home for the holidays.

11:05 AM:
I just realized I’ve been wandering the SeaTac airport in a hideous Christmas sweater. That explains the strange looks. I was beginning to wonder if people could read my evil thoughts. The sweater attracts an ungodly amount of static. My hair stands on end and I continue to pace the airport like a crazed Medusa, shocking myself every time I touch something.

11:15 AM: Every single person in the universe that I have ever called attempts to get back to me simultaneously. My cell phone battery is somewhat low from all the desperate texts and calls I’ve made trying to get home. Apparently, every person urgently needs to speak to me RIGHT NOW or they will die. Attempts to warn them of my dead battery fall on deaf ears.

11:20 AM: Sydney tells me that she and her fiancé will make room in their car for me. It appears I will make it home for Christmas after all. She tells me to be at the Westlake Starbucks by 12:30.

11:49 AM: I haul ass across SeaTac one last time amidst a sea of angry, tired travelers and their snot-nosed spawn. I manage to hail a taxi almost immediately.

11:55 AM:
The taxi driver is attempting to talk to me. I need a translator. Is he speaking English?
I catch a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. I look like I have not showered or applied make up since last Christmas. My sweater reeks of sweat and desperation.

12:02 PM: Seattle has received a record snowfall this year, the most in 30 years. It is quite apparent that none of its residents have ever driven in snow. We are stopped in our second traffic jam.

12:16 PM: I reach my destination. The cab driver can’t get up the steep hill in the Starbucks parking lot. I pay him the $60 I owe for the cab ride (ouch), get out of the cab, and begin to ascend the hill.
The bay looks beautiful, even on this freezing December day. I have never seen the city dusted with snow. I admire the view as I walk, beginning to laugh about my adventures for the first time and finally feeling a sense of peace. I will make it home. Everything will be ok.

12:17 PM: Both of my feet simultaneously fly out from under me as I hit a huge patch of ice. My tailbone hits the ground first, and somehow I manage to punch myself in the face with my Betsey Johnson bag.
I lie on the ground for a moment, staring at the sky, cursing everything I can think of from Seattle to snow to global warming. I stand up slowly and am relieved to discover that, other than the few people sitting inside Starbucks, no one witnessed my epic fall.

12:29 PM: The smell of delicious food leads me out of Starbucks, down the hall of the building to McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant. I order a bowl of seafood chowder and a side salad with mixed greens, gorgonzola cheese and amazing vinaigrette. Perhaps this day hasn’t been a waste after all. The server is kind to me though I look like a crazed Medusa and smell like yesterday’s garbage.

12:49 PM: As I pay for my expensive but delicious lunch, severe pain in my lower abdomen hits me. I know exactly what it is. I rush to the ladies’’ room and dig through my Betsey Johnson bag for a tampon. Why does this always happen at the worst times?

12:50 PM: I’m still digging desperately. I do not find what I am looking for. I do, however, find my Chapstick shimmer, which is only my favorite beauty product of 2008. Applying it to my dry, chapped lips is like putting a Band Aid on a broken leg. I begrudgingly purchase a feminine item, wrapped in cold, hard cardboard.

1:15 PM: Sydney and her fiancé arrive! I have never been more excited to see two people in my life. I buy a round of caffeine and, at last, I am really, truly going home. They have even cleared out a corner big enough for me and the Betsey bag. I jump into their backseat amidst gifts and suitcases.

2:00 PM: It strikes me that I have the Christmas gift I bought for Sydney in my bag. As I dig through my things to find it for her, I find the elusive tampon almost instantly. *&$#!

2:01 PM: Sydney tells me a sweet and hilarious story of her fiancé, their gift exchange, and a hair straightener. The story involves crying, and as Sydney tells me about it, she tears up again. At this point, everything is funny, and soon we are laughing so hard that we are both crying. Sydney’s fiancé remains polite but it is apparent he’s thinking of jumping out of the window.

As I continue to dig for the gift in the back of a crammed car that I never should have been in, I realize that life truly is unpredictable. Even when you have everything planned down to the last detail, you can end up somewhere you thought you’d never be.

But, had I not gotten myself into yet another predicament, I wouldn’t have had all that time with Sydney during the crazy holiday season. She and I can tell the story for years to come and hopefully one day her fiancé can laugh about it as well. Moments like this make life what it is…. an unscripted, unplanned series of events that never cease to amaze us.

2:15 PM: Sydney loves her gift, a couple of Juicy Couture items that I felt were made for her. She presents me with the most perfect gift I ever could’ve asked for: a designer handbag containing a fashion emergency kit. It has everything I could’ve used a few hours ago, like a ponytail holder, Anti Static spray, and, of course, a tampon. For some reason I find this extremely humorous.

4:20 PM: I stumble inside through my parents’ sliding glass door. I am exhausted, cranky and in desperate need of a shower. It has been twelve hours since I woke up, ready for my short, peaceful journey that turned into a nightmare. But I am home. Let the festivities begin.

*2009 Edit: for the most part, the festivities sucked ass. And yet, here I go, about to begin them all again!


Writergrrl said...

I rarely say this, in fact, I've NEVER said this, but I truly wish you an adventure-free holiday this year. You had enough 'story' last year to see you through another holiday travel season!! Oh, and I heart you, blue eyes! :-)

Anonymous said...

I should wish you a "drama free" holiday this year, but I'm selfish... I enjoy reading about your adventures so, so much!

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