The Rainbow After the Storm
A blue sky and majestic mountains greeted me as I awakened. Birds sang their morning symphony. Organic, dark roasted coffee awaited its cream and maple syrup. (Yes. You read that right. I was introduced to the maple and java bliss during a visit to Vermont. I broke up with raw sugar and never looked back.). It appeared to be the start of a typical day in the green mountains of New England.
My heart swirled with mixed emotions. I’d been gone for a few days, and I eagerly anticipated my family’s embrace. I rarely leave my husband and children; we often travel together. Yet this is the space in which I birthed my first blog and website. I couldn’t process these conflicting feelings so I continued with last minute packing. Richard was picking me up at 9:30 a.m. to go to the airport. (He is a hard working contractor who kindly agreed to drive me.). He arrived at 9:20 a.m., which I greatly appreciated. I didn’t want to be rude and have him wait. So I tossed my bags into his shiny, ketchup-red truck and off we went!
After about 45 minutes, I realized I’d never asked Richard what he’d like to be paid. I reached into my purse. And this is when the Sound of Music “hills are alive” day turned into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm meets You’re On Candid Camera.
I stopped speaking mid sentence. My hand suddenly felt like it weighed 300 pounds as it lingered on the lining of my bag. Those emotions about which I spoke earlier? Now add shock, self loathing, and silliness to the mix! What is the ONE thing a person needs to board an airplane? You know. That rectangular, thin item that is requested before you enter the security line?
Yes. You guessed correctly! A. Driver’s. License. Oh. I didn’t just forget that slightly significant object. No no. I apparently left my entire wallet—credit cards, cash, license—at the home in which I was staying. Full disclaimer: I am an extremely organized person and even more so when my actions may affect others. But admittedly I am not always punctual, which drives my more compulsive friends crazy. Not super late but about five minutes behind. My New Year’s Eve resolution was to work on this, and I’ve made great progress. Hence the reason I hurried when Richard arrived early!
So I looked at Richard and said, “Houston. We have a problem.” He raised his eyebrows. I announced my discovery of the missing wallet. Just seconds before I’d told him how sad I was to leave. The irony was too much, and I started to giggle. I said, “My husband is absolutely going to think I did this on purpose.” Richard started smiling; I told him to please pull over so I could strategize.
As I got quiet and visualized the morning, I realized I was in such a rush (so I didn’t keep Richard waiting) that I’d left the wallet on the kitchen table. I gazed at the lush, green trees as I willed my neurons to start firing more rapidly. I reached out to a few logical friends. We brainstormed on the phone after they realized I wasn’t kidding!
I also called another endearing soul, a Vermonter named Bob. He left his house, grabbed my wallet, and met us at a gas station. We got back on the highway but I was slowly getting concerned. You see not only was the airport 90 minutes away, but we had to catch a ferry to New York. I’ve taken this Allegiant flight dozens of times; I know the drill. It’s pleasant and peaceful. Usually!
Thank you Google for being there when I need you! I located the number for Plattsburgh airport. A soft spoken woman answered the phone. Despite my pleading that my family was in Florida, she said the airport could not let me on the flight without identification. I suggested that perhaps I can fill out a form. (I’d learned this from a resourceful person, who’d left her meeting to take my call. I deeply appreciate her friendship.) But the problem was they close the gate 15 minutes before takeoff, and the woman wouldn’t budge.
I said to Richard, unless you can make your truck fly, which I believed could be possible because it was so cool, then I am going to miss this flight. We nearly went to the airport anyway. But after much consideration, I called my husband and broke the news. I began with a cautious “Honey, don’t flip out. I’m going to tell you something, and it’s out of our control.” He immediately went online, and we found a new flight. I was thankful he stayed calm as I told him about my idiotic mistake. I’ve never done this, and I’ve also never missed a flight. Ever. We travel often, and even as the words left my mouth, I couldn’t believe it. It felt like I was repeating a story I’d read in the news.
We rebooked a flight on a new airline for that evening. Problem solved, right? No. Not yet. The flight was leaving from Albany, New York. We’ve now been driving for two hours. I ask Richard sheepishly if he would mind taking me. He immediately said, “Of course—I don’t mind.” I continued to probe. “Really? Are you sure? I feel terribly; I don’t want to mess up your day.” He insisted it was ok. I exhaled and relaxed my shoulders.
We had many more miles to go. I started to sing–in my head–the Beatles’ song “The Long and Winding Road.” I told Richard, “Hey. Let’s get lunch at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington.” I was thrilled to hear he’d never been there! This was a silver lining. The ride to Albany was peppered with humor and a spontaneous stop at a stunning bridge. I took photos of this serene view as the breeze blew through my hair.
I stood on a dock for a moment and looked at the placid lake. Although my camera had captured the y-shaped, architecturally artful bridge, I wanted to be present and record this moment in my mind. I suddenly realized we were still a few hours away from the airport. And missing this flight was not an option!
The rest of the ride, thankfully, was smooth. I did wonder after four texts from JetBlue in 90 minutes if this was all a prank. First text? Your flight has been delayed to 7:10 pm. The next text? The time has changed to 6:45 p.m. Sometime during the incessant, indecisive messages, I took my credit card out of my wallet. I am not making this up: It had separated into two individual pieces. I was now really wondering if this was all a twisted joke.
We’d contemplated making a quick stop for ice cream. I’d heard from my husband that Kurvy Kreme was delicious (despite the dreadful, incorrect spelling). It was only five minutes from the airport. We decided it wasn’t a wise idea. The decision to skip chocolate therapy was difficult. I asked Richard to promise me he’d go anyway. He did. And he texted proof. I may have drooled.
I arrived to the airport and raced to the gate. I looked for my purple shirt, which was formerly tied around my waist. It. Was. Gone. I was now convinced an invisible gremlin snuck into my suitcase! The departure time changed. Again. At this point I was on autopilot (pun intended), and I stumbled to the nearest restaurant. I found what appeared to be healthy choice, given the name “Fresh Attractions.” After swallowing the second piece of grilled chicken, I read the label on the plastic salad container. I thought I was hallucinating. Malted barley flour? On grilled chicken? I haven’t eaten gluten in nearly a decade! How and why would one even put such poison in what’s advertised as a nutritious meal???
I was beyond grateful for the aisle seat. My bag had gotten heavier (maybe the gremlins had multiplied?). I used the last bit of energy to lift my suitcase and shove it into the overhead compartment. I wanted to face plant but that’s wasn’t possible. So I plopped onto the grey, vinyl seat as trickles of sweat trailed down my face.
A couple whom I’m guessing were in their ‘60s sat to my left. I admired their love for each other; it was especially clear when the man held his wife during a turbulent 20 minutes. I noticed an older woman sitting with them. About halfway through the flight, I stood up to stretch. I glanced at the woman, and her sparkly eyes met mine. I said, “I love your smile!” Her daughter replied, “You know she’s 95.” I couldn’t believe it. I said, “What’s your secret?” Her eyes crinkled at the corners as she beamed. “My children and a happy life.”
During the first half hour, the woman directly next to me spoke about her enormous brain tumor. She showed me her scar and photos from her surgery. After sharing her journey, she said, “I never tell people about this; I don’t know why I told you all of that.” I said, “Thank you for feeling comfortable to do so. I believe every soul has a story.” Her earnest, blue eyes looked into mine. I felt fear. I saw gratitude. And I sensed an inner knowing that one only understands from a life changing experience. At the end of the flight, we hugged, and I wished her continued health.
We finally landed. I looked at my phone. 10:07 p.m. It’s nearly 11 hours later. I could’ve flown to another country! My daughter had texted and hinted that she’d made a special dinner. And she was so disappointed that we couldn’t be together. I told her the intention is what matters, not the time or day. The usual Florida whoosh of humidity struck me the second I stepped off the plane. It intensified when I walked outside.
My husband’s car slowly approached the curb. Exhaustion finally hit along with the thick summer heat. But excitement to see my love infused me with renewed energy. I held him close and thanked him again for all of his help.
I opened the door to my home and found my sweet girl asleep on the office floor. Her cherubic face smiled as I tried to wake her (like I promised I would). My son was also asleep in his bed. My two pups leaped onto my lap, licking my face and nuzzling into my arms.
The clouds from the day started to clear. I entered the main area of my home and saw a shiny, mylar rainbow balloon floating near the stairs. I then walked into the kitchen. My mouth opened wide as I saw a colorful CONGRATS banner hanging on the wall. Balloons in rainbow shades spelled MAZEL (which means “luck/congratulations” in Hebrew) on launching the blog. “We love you” was written inside a heart on a purple balloon. Rainbow chevron-patterned plates were set on the table. In the middle, rainbow lollipops rested in a white, ceramic ladybug container. Cupcakes with homemade frosting and lavender fondant hid in the fridge. (I again resisted the urge to indulge. I knew I should wait until tomorrow when the kids were awake.)
Dark moments mixed with radiant ones happened from sunrise to sunset on Thursday. My family’s surprise and the loving souls I’d met created a vibrant spectrum of color. You can’t have a rainbow without a bit of rain! And you can’t always predict the forecast. But you can be prepared by going with the flow and weathering the storm.