It seems like every year before my “award” trip, something weird always happens.
Every Single Year
This year, however, has to top the charts for the sitcom that is my life.
First of all, my brother Brian had open heart surgery yesterday, and I’ve been rattled out of my gourd for a few days, and packing and organizing the kids and making lists, and buying food, and running to and fro from the hospital (though JoAnn, his girlfriend, handled the hard stuff) AND STILL WORKING has just been the cat’s meow, people.
(Side note…Brian is doing good enough for me to go on this journey)
So. This morning. Set my alarm for 3:45 am. Dreamed about Justin Bieber over visiting the ranch and a tornado comes and he’s in our storm shelter with us, and for whatever reason I woke up at 3:05 am. Beibs must have been singing a little too loud or something. I go ahead and get up and finish packing, and do last minute things that I do, and after a good run through of -wallet? -Passport? -Phone? You know the drill, I jump in my trusty 2003 VW passat and head out to the airport. Plenty PLENTY PLENTY of time, right? Out the door at 4 am, and I don’t have to even board until 5:50! What a deal!
As I turn on Highway 33, and am approaching Portland, I hear a pop and I’m like, “oh crap, what did I just run over?” continue on my merry way, until it becomes more and more evident that I have blown a tire. I’m seriously just laughing at this point, because REALLY….REALLY? REALLLLLLLLYYYYYYY? I’m only about 3 ½ miles from my house, so my idea was to get back to the Valero station at the corner, put some air in it to make it home and jump in Hallie’s truck. Good plan, right?
At Valero, the air machine is taped up. I race in the door and lament to the worker behind the counter, “Please tell me you have air, I have a flat and I HAVE TO GET TO THE AIRPORT, and I WAS for ONCE ON TIME!”
The sweet kid working at the Subway, came running out and said, “I will help you” and we rush outside. Seems the air compressor is broken. Sigh. Young muffin says, “I will change for you and I can do it in 30 minutes or less”
However, a Subaru pickup drives up (pitch black outside still, understand) and this voice says, “I heard you in the store, and I am going to the airport and can give you a lift!” My heart started racing, as I think, “do I do this???” and I flip my phone light on AND PEER IN HIS CAR FOR LUGGAGE (I swear I did). My tire changing kid in shining armor pipes up, “Yeah go ahead and lock your car and I will finish this tire and you can pick it up later. We will fix you up”.
My mind is racing one hundred million miles an hour. Do I leave my car? Do I trust this young servant? Do I jump in a car with a total stranger with a suitcase in his back seat?
The answer amazingly, was Yes, Why Yes I do.
Thankfully, after 5 minutes with my would be kidnapper /murderer/sex trafficker/mafia leader/serial killer/rapist/stalker, I realize he is a precious little neighbor that lives about a mile from the ranch. He didn’t know me from adam, so he took a pretty big risk as well.
We visited and talked all the way to the airport, me finding out about his late first wife and all her cremation information (I am a riveting conversationalist, I am telling you), and boom, we are at the airport. I know his name is Ken and he lives really close to me. I also know he is going to fly Southwest, to go to his stepsons graduation from college.
As he dumps me at the door, and I grab my suitcase out of the back of the Subaru, I am carrying items in my hand, so naturally I assume I have all my things.
I realize about the time he pulls away from the curb, he has MY BACKPACK in the back of his knighted Subaru.
“KEN, KEN, KEN, KEN” I scream, as I chase after him down the ramp, pulling my 54.5 pound suitcase and waving my arms.
Old Ken is so relieved to have the would be kidnapper /murderer/sex trafficker/mafia leader/serial killer/rapist/stalker woman out of his car, he didn’t even BEGIN to glance in his rear view mirror.
So close your eyes with me if you will.
I’m running in the door or the airport, turning around and running out of the airport, only to turn right around and go back in to the airport, yelling “I don’t know what to do”.
Just wonder what all those poor people thought I was on at this point.
I had decided if it wasn’t so pathetic, it would have been hysterical, and formulated a plan. Thankfully, Justin Beiber had woke me up with time to spare, so I still had minutes before it was too late for luggage and all the people at the airport sigh and look at you in disgust. So I settled myself down by Southwest, knowing he would be there to check in and I could grab his keys and go get my bag.
So many things ran through my mind, “What if Ken goes and gets a sandwich before he heads here”, “Did Ken only do this to steal my backpack?” “What if Ken parks in the back parking lot and I miss my plane”, texting Melba (my friend attending my trip with me this year, at Atlanta, where she is getting on a plane, and her telling me, JUST STOP AND PRAY). So, I did. I shut my eyes right in the middle of the airport and said, “God, Let Ken find me. And if you are super duper, please let him have seen my backpack in the back seat”
I can’t even imagine Ken’s horror of seeing me standing there, literally bobbing up and down waiting, and him thinking “Oh my GOSH, what now??” when I told him, “MY BACKPACK IS IN YOUR BACK SEAT”, he looked at me crosseyed for 12 seconds and said, “I will go get it”, staring at his suitcase, and the line he was in, and I gallantly offered, “I will hold your place in line” (As I have Vietnam flashbacks of running through that airport two years ago, in search of errant wallet) and off he goes. Skipping, walking. While I am babysitting his bag, Ashleigh Muse comes walking in, all beautiful and cute and tan, as I stand there, sweating in my Seattle clothes (where weather is 40 degrees cooler) and wondering how in the world I get myself into these “Laura” situations? She laughs, and about that time, Poor Ken comes running back, having forgotten the keys to the car. Seems like I am rubbing off on people now. Off he goes. Ashleigh keeps me entertained, and I dang near got Ken checked in before he made it back, but sure enough, here he comes, holding my big old freaking heavy backpack. Poor Ken.
I race to United, the line is to Egypt. I have 5 minutes before they sigh and groan at you, and I bravely made my way to the front of the line where a really mean blonde lady told me to take a hike. However, the really nice OU student behind her allowed me cuts, and I walked through security and I had a 10 whole minutes to spare.
I forgot to tell you that I was 5 pounds overweight on my luggage, and dug through it in front of the LINE I JUST CUT and fished out my laptop, which I am typing on now. 49.5 pounds later, the entire line behind me sighed a sigh of relief and watched me WALK AWAY FROM THEM.
I saw Ken as I sped by Southwest to the other side of Egypt to my gate, and I waved and he just kind of averted his eyes, as if to say, “I can’t run through the airport for you again, lady”
So, it’s taken me about an hour and a half to get my blood pressure back to good, and a quick call to the neighbor to go pick up my traitorous car and it’s dime store tires at the Valero station later in the day (and to retrieve all my jack and paraphernalia that we liberated from the trunk by the light of my phone) because I shut the trunk before I drove off, leaving him standing there with all my stuff.
This was all before 6:00 am people. Before 6 am.
You got to get up early to dance with me.
So if I don’t either a) fall off the pier in Seattle or b) fall off the boat heading to Alaska, or c) choke on a piece of pie, I will be Alaska bound and back in a week.
Here’s the morale of the story.
No matter how dumb you is, God got you.
What were the odds of KEN being in that store? The kid being willing to change my tire? Ashleigh walking in at that precise moment to lower my blood pressure (she immediately started mashing on my shoulders, knowing I was probably going to stroke in the near future with my knots in my shoulders named Shirley and Judy). Then the sweet girl giving me cuts, and the laptop weighing the EXACT amount I needed to check my bag?
God is good, people. Especially to me.
Who wants to go with me next year?