The plan was to be in Chicago.
Right now, this very moment, in Chicago. Home. But I’m not in home. I’m in Detroit.
After two days teaching patchwork and lecturing on the Great American Quilt Revival for the Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, I was all set to scoot to the airport and get back to Chicago by 7:00 p.m. The days were great (that’s the good news) and home was important because getting home is important, but there was this one particular reason I wanted to get home as soon as I could, faster than ever, even.
You see, my friend Nick was going to make me dinner. He was going to make me dinner so that when I came home, there would be this … dinner.
Like, a dinner that was there. Made. For me. For us. A meal. A meal that was there. When I came back from a business trip. Like, a homemade dinner. When I walked in the door.
I can hardly get my mind around this concept. That there would be a meal for me when I came home from a trip … It just sounds really nice, you know? It sounds like the nicest thing I’ve ever heard of. I’m not sure when … I’m not sure I can remember the last time … Anyway, I was looking forward to that, you know? Especially after a four-day Quiltfolk trip last week and these two days of work in Michigan.
But my flight was cancelled. Not delayed; cancelled. The first time that happened — yeah, I said the first time — was this afternoon. I was in the workshop, helping Dee match her points, when Sue, my host, came toward me. She was looking at her phone with a furrowed brow.
“Mar,” she said, “it’s telling me your flight’s been cancelled.”
My stomach dropped, curled, flipped. I stopped breathing but I finished helping Dee with her points. As soon as Dee was sewing again, I dashed to the hallway with my phone and scrambled. It was weather. Snow. Ice. Flying monkeys. What did it matter, now? No getting home at 7:00 p.m. My eyes filled with tears and I felt so, so sad. That homemade dinner.
My only option was to get on a flight through Nashville. I would arrive in Chicago at 10:40 p.m., and even in Europe, that is not dinnertime. But when you really, really want to have dinner with someone, you make it work. I made a tearful call to Nick and let him know.
The reason I spend time with this person is because he says things like, “Nothing’s changed except the time you’re coming home.”
Sue gets me to the airport. I check my bags. As I’m walking to the gate, I get a work-related text and it is bad. It is bad news. It is really bad news. I can’t go into the bad news. Even if I could go into the bad news, I wouldn’t. You just have to believe me that the text I got, as I’m dragging myself through the Detroit airport, sad because the first home-cooked meal I’d be having in years was not going to happen — this work thing was terrible and I couldn’t breathe very well.
And as I am trying not to hyperventilate, Southwest announces that no one on the planet (or at least in Detroit) is going to Nashville or Chicago before tomorrow morning. Including me. There is no voucher. There is no shuttle. There might be luggage. Either way, I’d be in EST again tonight.
Hot tears spilled down my face and I felt tired. I felt overwhelmed. All the bad things that I think about myself when I do something wrong came crashing down on me and I thought, “You are a failure, you are a mess.”
The need to find a hotel room* stunned me into a numbness that at least got my feet moving toward baggage claim. My bags were the last to be put on the conveyor belt. Would they even come?? Right before I truly lost it, they came up on the belt. I collected them, looking for all the world like someone had just stolen my birthday. I took a taxi to the hotel I booked; the taxi and the hotel pretty much wiped out what I made in book sales; whatever. I was so despondent I didn’t even care. I texted Nick that I’d call him later, after I stopped crying. (My mom doesn’t like it when I cry on the phone so now, I don’t like to cry on the phone.)
I took a bath. I ate something. I tried to breathe, to chill. It was a good day, but then it just went so bad.
My flight is at 6:50 a.m., so I should try to sleep, but come on. I won’t be able to. There’s too much anxiety in me, too much worry. And I shouldn’t be here. I should be there. With …
With Chicago. I should be with Chicago.
This is how it is. Sometimes, you are on top of the world. Sometimes, the world is so on top of you, you are at least a Great Lake away from feeling good.
*My hosts would have totally come back to the airport, collected me, and put me up for the night at one of their homes, without question. I was so wiped out and bummed, though, I just couldn’t make the call.