The idea was to leave on the last flight out to make it home for an important client press conference the next day.
Plenty of time, into my own bed at a decent hour, the house quiet, the kids sleeping in their cousins’ home in Edwardsville, ready for an 8-hour drive the next day. When you book a flight between St. Louis and Detroit for mid-June, you never consider weather will be the cause for delay.
But it’s raining this year, raining like it’s never rained before, raining like it needs to rain in California, and we’re sinking under the rising waters. Will the tomatoes suffer and fail this year like the last cold summer?
One flight canceled, and a new ticket bought. And then that flight delayed until the middle of the night. We are at the mercy of the world around us, only in control for as long as we believe such a myth.
I wonder why planes can’t land in rain, why my flight was diverted to Louisville to wait on the runway until it’s clear enough here to come in.
It might be storming somewhere else, the lady next to me at the bar says. The man on my other side leans over; don’t listen to her, she works for the airline. They laugh and fist bump and she tells him to go hang out at the state fair.
I sip my sauvignon blanc and listen to the stories of stranded travelers and I smile. These are the days when you give up the illusion of control and settle into the idea that this world is full of smiling good souls we’re usually never lucky enough to meet.
The man on my left shows a picture on his phone of a sister born on his 7th birthday. We’re 13 children, he says. In central Maine, in a two-bedroom home. You didn’t need to wish for a sister or brother; you always got one.
The woman on my right tells about being raised by her grandparents, nine children in all, an outhouse and a well behind the house. They shouldn’t be that close together, the man says.
My grandmother churned her own butter, the woman says. We never ever had a car, the man says.
It’s funny. Last year, we bought raw milk to make our own yogurt, butter, cheese. None of that ever happened. The one time we tried it just didn’t work, so we went back to store-bought.
Times have changed. A life like that teaches strong ethics and accountability, the woman says. I still wish for the knowledge of making yogurt by my own hands, of providing for my children from the fruits of our labors, from the crops in our yard.
In our yard, there is an English hedge and a brick fence and a fire pit and a pond. The children play basketball and tennis against the garage. They spend way too much time watching TV or the iPad, and I’m sorry to say I let them.
If only we lived on acres where things grew and we harvested our own crops and we ate what was ripe and fresh and what we knew well.
The man turns to me. I’m the age of his children, who live clear across Texas from him, almost in Louisiana. He’s on the far west border with New Mexico. They’re good kids, he says, and good people to boot.
When you grow up with nothing, he tells me, you are grateful for every little thing. When you want to give your kids everything, do you ruin them for gratitude?
It’s 8:07 p.m. The man leaves and the man to his left moves closer. Four of us are talking about what the world has come to, the perils of texting, the misguided duck face photo on a resume. One guy is 27, one woman is in her 50s, the new guy on my left is probably my age.
And suddenly, I am grateful for the delay.
Yes, I will be exhausted. Tomorrow will be a long day and actually now that I have to worry about getting home at all, I can stop worrying about whether the press conference will go well or the new client will sign on or my husband’s long drive home will go smoothly and safely.
I am sitting here with a glass of wine and a sense of appreciation for the gift of interaction with other good people. Living, breathing, heart-based appreciation. You’re good. I’m good. We are all in this together.