And so, here is the first lesson. I arrive in Denver a few minutes early and have two hours until my connecting flight to Chicago. I walk two big circles around the concourse and then settle down with a bowl of brown rice, vegetables and tofu at a little corner café. By the time I finish my lunch and have two sips of coffee my connecting flight to Chicago is cancelled. Wait a minute. My flight is cancelled?
I have not seen my mother in twenty-eight years. (She will ask “And whose fault is that?” I’ll decline to answer.) This was the weekend. I only have this weekend.
I find United Customer Service and I say to the couple behind me, “Let’s turn this into a positive. Who knows?” I say, “Maybe I’ll end up in Pennsylvania earlier.”
But the line moves slowly and I begin to worry. I tell the couple my story. They reassure me.
I make it to the counter and try to hold it together but it’s useless. The tears fall. I ask the man to send me back to San Francisco. I can’t do this. He says, “Don’t waste your ticket. We’ll get you there.”
I’m put on stand-by for a few flights but they’re oversold. I’m confirmed on a late afternoon flight to Washington Dulles. They offer a hotel pass and food voucher.
Phone calls follow to Avis, to the hotel in Brienigsville and Expedia. Avis is cooperative. Expedia not so much.
A few hours pass.
I’m wondering. Is it karma? Are my troubles today a debt I’m paying for being less than a stellar daughter?
It’s ironic that Hurricane Earl and I are both headed to the same destination. Earl was Mom’s third husband. A despicable man not unlike ‘Squiggy’ on Laverne and Shirley. Earl was a Mormon. Of sorts. Although I do not mean to imply that his faith made him despicable. It may have been his one saving grace). I remember Mom’s backward plunge of baptismal conversion. I skipped the wedding to stay home baking a cake for them. But then he said to the fifteen-year-old me – a girl unsure of herself, her body and her sexuality: “you have lovely breasts.”
So you see, I have reasons for wanting to not go home. But now that I am, is the journey becoming difficult for a reason?
I think about my choices: Do I want to be angry? Frustrated? Sad? Or do I want to drown my sorrows with drink (uh…yes).
But I choose to breathe. I choose to stay present. I remember something I read recently about being right here – no matter the circumstances. Stay here. Focus. I breathe some more and the chant we sang every day at Land of Medicine Buddha rings through my head. I thank people for working so hard. I compliment a girl’s apple green toenails. Twelve brown sparrows fly through Gate 34. And I feel better. I’m going home.