I have been convinced that I am half-mermaid ever since I was a child and saw Darryl Hannah in Splash. Later on, when people told me that I looked like her, I knew it had to be true. And, I seem to be the kind of person who doesn’t quite fully understand what to do with her legs. I am always running into stuff, tripping, and very much accident prone. I often am amazed when I take a flight that my whole body arrived at my new destination, and surprised that my head isn’t still stuck back at the departure gate. The thing is, when people first meet me their first impression is that I’ve got it all together. But let them spend any kind of real-time with me, and much like any mask, it gets torn off pretty fast, and people realize that while I struggle to appear as if I’ve got things all together, I’m pretty much a clutzy, dorky, but very entertaining goofball.
Today marked the first day of the beginning of a three-month journey to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. And I woke up thrilled beyond belief. While I have done a lot of traveling, the longest I’ve ever traveled anywhere has been for three weeks. I had such a smile that when I bought my bottle of water in the airport, even the cashier said, “I wanna know where you’re going. With that kind of smile on your face, I wanna go there, too.” The morning seemed to be gliding by so smoothly. Yes, lines were long at the airport. And, yes, I wound up getting in the wrong line to check in for my flight not once, but twice! First, I accidentally got in the pre-paid luggage line, and realized halfway through the line. Then, halfway through the next line, I realized there was no line down the way where it said International Departures. (See, I told you, I’m a goofball.)
I made it to my flight which was headed to San Francisco. From there, for the people who were continuing on, the plane was headed to Cabo. Well, I learned most of the people were headed to Cabo, so I started telling them my recommendations and of course, casually mentioning that I had just started a Travel blog, much in the same casual way that a new grandmother might casually mention she just had her first grandbaby. Just like she would start pulling out the wallet or, in the case of the modern grandmother, the iPhone with the pictures on it, I started handing out my business cards. I was feeling like quite the celebrity with people coming over to me saying, “I couldn’t help but eavesdrop, but can I have a card, too?”
So, when the plane started boarding, I was ecstatic. Everything was going according to plan. In 24 hours, I would be in Bali. Just a stop in San Francisco, to meet up with a friend who would be starting this trip with me for a few weeks, a stop in Korea, and then bam!, let the adventures begin.
Three steps from boarding, and the announcement over the intercom is made. “Because of heavy fog, the flight is delayed. We will let you know when you can board.” I was anxious, as I had no cell phone to contact my friend who would be waiting for me in San Francisco. And with only an hour connection, I became a bit nervous. Well, since I had made so many friends, I went up to one of them and asked to use their phone to call my friend. She didn’t answer, so I left her a message. The good news is that we were only delayed about fifteen minutes. However, once we were on the plane, the captain made the announcement that we wouldn’t be leaving for at least another twenty minutes. I am not sure how much later we left, as due to exhaustion and no coffee this morning, I promptly fell asleep. I didn’t awaken until well into the flight, the California sun shining into my face, my heart happy to once again be on my way. We got close to San Francisco only fifteen minutes late, but then the terrifying announcement was made that we would have to wait twenty more minutes circling around until we could land.
Finally we landed. I knew I would have no time to empty my full bladder or get food, even though I had not had the opportunity to have Breakfast this morning. Of course, I had made friends with the people on my row, so they said they would let me go ahead in hopes of me getting on the next plane. And this is where the problem was. At the San Francisco Airport, if you are switching from Domestic to International you had to go to a whole different terminal which you can only get to by walking to (or in my case, running.) You also have to go through security all over again. I ran and I ran and I ran (and trust me, I’m the type of person who only runs when someone is chasing me), to finally arrive at the International Security Gate panting and collapsing as I handed my boarding pass to the TSA agent. She told me in a very brusque and unfriendly tone that because Alaskan Air had issued all of my boarding passes that I now had to go re-check in with Korean Air and get new ones. WHAT? Sweat poured from my body and tears from my eyes. “Is this going to cause me to miss my flight?”, I wailed. She shrugged her shoulders and said she didn’t know (and implied that she didn’t care). No time to argue, I rushed over to the airport check-in area, and headed (because I am a goofball), to the first counter I saw with Asian people. The guy at the ticket counter was looking at me as I was gasping for air, a complete and utter mess, and down at my tickets, and back and forth several times from me to the tickets, from me to the tickets. Finally he asked if I was going to Japan. No, Korea, I stammered. He said well, we don’t have flights to Korea. It was then that I realized I was at Delta Airlines and not Korean. He told me where Korean air was a full two LONG aisles over, so I ducked under the security line, only to forget I was wearing a backpack, to then knock the whole thing down. I just kept running. Meanwhile, he was yelling at me. I thought I was in trouble, but I was headed the wrong way for Korean, and he was only directing me. Other agents had joined in and were all telling me where to go.
Finally, I arrived at the Korean ticketing counter, and, yeah, there was no line because everyone else was ON the plane! She advised me that my bag won’t make it, but will get there eventually, and issued the new boarding pass. She also gave me a badge to take a Priority line through security. Back to security, where the same TSA agent insisted on checking through my documents while the other one was telling her to just let me go. I arrived at the conveyor belt while doing a big leap up to take off my shoes and take my laptop out of my bag in one fell swoop, only to be disheartened by another long line. I was seriously out of breath, my face was beet red from a combination of having to pee and from running, and I had pretty much let all of my inner goofball come out. The guy in front of me was very calm, as he said that he would probably miss his flight to India. Meanwhile, I was not so calm, and so the guy three people in line in front of him said, “Cut in front of me. I’ll let you go first.” I started asking the people behind him if they minded, and soon everyone, including the TSA agent at that checkpoint was cheering me on, and telling me to go up front. I didn’t grab bins or anything. I walked right up to the entry for the X-ray and set everything down. The agent there was super cool, and grabbed bins for my stuff and helped me get through. I grabbed my stuff and without even putting my laptop back in the backpack, took off at a full run. Only to notice, I no longer had my backpack. I had to run back to TSA to retrieve that. I started running again without zipping up my bag, the oranges I had packed for a snack falling to the ground behind me, me the holy hurricane, making my way to the gate.
They were literally about to close the doors, paging my name as I walked up. Again, they told me I will probably have no bag once I arrive. I didn’t care, anxious to get on the plane and meet up with my friend who I knew would be panicked and worried about me. One of the stewardesses came up behind me, lifting up the backpack strap that had fallen back on my shoulder. I made my way to our seats, and there were two empty seats instead of one. It looks like my friend did miss the flight, and for now, I have no idea of where she is. (Update, she missed the flight, (obviously), but is in the air as we speak and arrives tomorrow!)
But, here I sit, on this sanctuary of a flight, having just eaten my first meal of the day, with real silverware too(!), the perfectly coiffed and elegant stewardesses continually coming by to pour more wine into my glass. I just love Korean Air, by the way. They bring you ice cream (my first time eating ice cream up in the air!) and midnight pizza, and have more toothbrushes for you to use then a dentist office! But you know what? I am glad that I had let my inner goofball show. If I had looked as calm and put together as the guy waiting for his flight to India, there would have been no line of people urging me forward, cheering me on, and helping me with my backpack. It is only when we show that we don’t have it all together that it gives others a chance to step forward and to help us along the way.