I just returned from a week in North Carolina. It was ridiculously lovely weather, and we had a great time. Since Hubby had been there for more than a month with his truck, I planned on flying down and then driving back with him. Seven hundred sixty-three miles from door to door. We drove it in eleven hours and fifty-five minutes yesterday. Last weekend, it took me twenty-two hours to fly there. Not a misprint, folks. Half a day to drive. Nearly a full day to fly. What’s wrong with this picture?
“Traveling adventures” are drawn to me like moths to the light. Think of something that can go wrong, and it surely will when I’m flying. Missed connections. Freak storms. Presidential visits that close down airports. More freak storms. Getting to Boston from Kansas City via Minneapolis. Did I mention freak storms?
But it wasn’t an act of God that waylaid me last week. It was a brutal combination of mechanical problems and holiday travel. And, most importantly, a jinx. I jinxed myself. I knew it as soon as the words were out of my mouth – I invited disaster, and disaster accepted the invitation.
You know how that works – like when someone says “wow, we’ve painted the whole room without getting a drop of paint on the carpet!” Jinx! Within five minutes, you are guaranteed to spill half a can of paint, or drop a loaded paint brush, on the carpet. “I can’t believe we got the baby to sleep so easily!” Jinx! Two minutes later, the little one will be screaming non-stop. “The last few times we’ve left the dog alone, she’s been great – I think she’s over that anxiety problem she had.” Jinx! Half the sofa and most of the door frame will be destroyed when you get home. And, of course, the ultimate jinx question… “What could possibly go wrong?” Just dive under your desk when you hear that one – fate will be happy to provide the answers fairly quickly to anyone foolish enough to ask.
So what did I say that stretched a two-stop flight into an ordeal? While being driven to the airport by a great friend, I mentioned that I had a couple of hours of layover time in both DC and Charlotte, making for a long commute. That was safe. And then it happened – before I realized it, I was saying the words “but the good thing about the extra time is that if there are any delays anywhere, I’ll have plenty of time and I won’t have to stress about it. And the weather’s gorgeous. Gee, I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!” So, not only did I invite fate with my bragging about all my spare time, I also said the “j-word” out loud, and laughed. I can’t believe I was that stupid.
But I forgot about my carelessness after an easy flight to DC. I spent a relaxing few hours in the US Airways Club enjoying free coffee and snacks and a great magazine (how does Cher manage to look so hot at our age?). All was calm. I leisurely strolled to my gate, priding myself on the wisdom of purchasing that day pass to the Club, and I was looking forward to seeing Hubby after four long, long weeks. I felt just a slight chill when I saw that the flight was delayed an hour, but I wasn’t too concerned – after all, I had all that buffer time in Charlotte before my next flight. Still feeling smug, I walked back to the Club room for some more free coffee. By the time I got there, the flight had been canceled.
Canceled?!? What do you mean, canceled? There’s no weather anywhere. How can the flight be canceled? Excuse me, did you just say there are no more flights tonight? It’s only 7:30 – how can there be no flights to your hub in Charlotte? Oh, there are flights, just no seats? Thanksgiving travel. College students. DC emptying for the week. Yeah, I get it. So, first thing in the morning, right? Excuse me, did you just say I can’t get to Charlotte until tomorrow night? And can’t get to my final destination until almost midnight tomorrow? What the hell?! Okay, how about the next closest airport? No good. How about the next one past that? No good. How about Raleigh, almost two hours away? Nope. But you can get me to Greensboro. 220 miles from Hubby. And you still can’t get me there until tomorrow morning. Well, isn’t that special. The tears mount, but they don’t fall. No sense crying over something I can’t fight. And I know the whole mess is my fault for incurring the jinx.
The advantage of being over 50 is that you have a firm understanding of how to tell the difference between things we can change and things we can’t. May as well make the best of it. I take my meal voucher to Five Guys at the airport and order up a fabulous cheeseburger with grilled mushrooms and A-1 sauce. I take it with me to the shuttle that whisks me to the Sheraton Suites in Alexandria, Va. The burger is still toasty warm after waiting in a long line of Charlotte-bound travelers trying to get rooms.
And the room is a delight. A true suite, with a couple of flat-screen TV’s, french doors opening to the fluffy, white, down-comforted bed. Off go the shoes, on goes the TV, and down goes the best burger in the world. Lemonade out of the lemon I handed myself. Morning wake-up call is on time. Morning flight is on time. Hubby made the true sacrifice, skipping a golf tournament and driving more than two hours to be there as I walk off the plane in Greensboro at 9:30. We take a leisurely drive across half the state to our NC house, with a stop for breakfast. At long last, I reach my destination.
And the trip home to NY yesterday? In a four-wheeled vehicle on America’s highways? We pulled out of the driveway in NC right at 5AM. At 4:55PM, we pulled into our garage in NY. Two gas stops and a couple of rest area stops to change drivers. No hassles. Minimal construction. No traffic to speak of. Great weather. Why? Because I was smart enough not to say anything stupid before we left that might have jinxed us. Lesson learned, mouth wisely shut (for now).