I drove myself the 2.25 hours to Atlanta to catch my return flight to Paris. It was all part of the master plan. Not having a car, I had rented one on my return from N.C. the Friday before, which had come in handy for the trips to the optometrist and dentist, not to mention the last-minute errands necessary to put things in place for my departure.
The two days before had been busy. I was subsisting on 3 hours sleep packing, weighing and then re-evaluating what I would take back across the pond had consumed hours. I was tired, but felt joyfully prepared.
My son and his girlfriend made it safely home from California in time for me to see them before leaving. My sisters came over and the five of us had a beautiful sendoff dinner.
Friday came. Ninety-nine trips around the house, checking and doubling checking, one final weight check on my bags (past history at overweight bags and feeding my blow dryer in the Atlanta airport to a compactor , LOL, makes me hyper diligent in this area – better to err on the side of caution), and the car was loaded. Teary eyed, but excited, I hugged my son got into the car and backed down the driveway.
I had to go to two service stations to find an unoccupied gas pump. Strange I thought, the traffic resembled five o’clock rush hour. Maybe I should have seen the warning signs and taken a moment to prepare, but I didn’t.
It got worse.
Still, I had allowed 4 hours to get to the airport, drop the car and get to the airline counter. Easy peasy, right?
You see the rest of this story coming, don’t you?
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Without taking you through 5 hours of anxiety and near tears, suffice it to say I had to check my bags (all 100lbs of them) one hour before take-off. I made it by 15 minutes, not the two hours I had anticipated.
Did I think I had done a good job of planning and allowing enough time? Hell yes. Was it in fact sufficient? Apparently not.
But I had also forsaken writing and quiet time for several days in my haste “to get it done”.
And it cost me dearly.
It wasn’t until 40 minutes before scheduled take off, when I was just making it through TSA that I let go. As I handed my passport and boarding ticket to the very nice lady, she asked how I was. My response, “well, I have had better days. But, if I make my flight, it will be okay.” She looked at my boarding pass and then looked back at my haggard expression. “You’ll be fine,” She said kindly, smiling to reassure me.
And, I WAS.
Despite the unhelpful mental rehearsal of missing the plane and the imaginary thousands I would have to fork over for another flight, hotel, the works, I was fine.
I mean I did a great job of mentally creating the worst possible scenario, but none of it happened.
Sometimes, despite our best laid plans, things go awry. And sometimes we react in ways that don’t benefit us. But we don’t have to. That is where a writing life comes in. It helps us to hear the voice, “you’ll be fine”, even if someone else doesn’t speak it out loud to us.
Christian met me at the airport with roses.
Today we walked down Rue Levi and chose figs, chanterelle mushrooms and new potatoes from open air vendors. We sat at a sidewalk café, looking at flower markets and other shoppers, drinking wine while we waited for the rotisserie chicken we ordered from the boucherie to be ready. A regular Sunday afternoon in Paris. And this is my life.
Perhaps had I maintained my writing practice instead of forsaking it for a week rushing around, I might have started writing the moment I settled into my seat on the plane. Perhaps I would have relaxed a bit more and slept on the cross Atlantic flight.
I may never have an answer to these questions, and don’t really want to re-enact the events to test them out, but I do know that as I sit here, writing this blog has given me a world of perspective about the thoughts I chose that created so much stress and frustration.
I do know that writing has a magical way of bringing thoughts full circle, and therein lies the ability to truly see.