No Dinner For You, Detroit

posted in: Day In The Life 16
Home cookin’. Image: Wikipedia.


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.

16 Responses

  1. PhyllisY
    | Reply

    The perils of traveling in the winter, right? My daughter made it back to O’Hare from Singapore last night, probably just before the worst of it. Hope you get home safely and Nick gives you a rain check on dinner.

  2. Val
    | Reply

    Sometimes plans get changed. Sometimes stuff happens and sometimes weather is not your friend.

    Weather doesn’t care about bad news..get some rest and maybe tomorrow or the next day your dinner will happen.

    You are one of many whose plans changed but you are fed, warm and dry. Others have been stuck in cars on highways for many hours.

    Again get some rest.

  3. Colleen
    | Reply

    I have never been in your shoes reading your words makes me feel as though I am.
    Great writing horrible situation

  4. Joyce
    | Reply

    Oh no! Im so sorry to hear this! Your hosts totally would have come back and gotten you, given you a warm meal, hugged you and tucked you into a comfy bed. But , I don’t blame you for wanting to be with “Chicago”, and I’m sure there will be many more lovely nights to come! He sounds like that kind of guy!
    Thank you for coming. Safe travels! We love you!
    ~Joyce, who always reads your blog

  5. Bonnie
    | Reply

    So sorry, Mary, I hope tomorrow is a better day. Hugs!

  6. Kerry
    | Reply

    Nick sounds a nice lad. He’ll be waiting however long it takes for you to get home – with dinner. Meanwhile just think of Steve Martin and John Candy!

    Main thing is you are safe and sound.

  7. Brenda King
    | Reply

    Mary- I understand your disappointment only too well. When I get my heart set on a good thing, it really hurts for it to fall apart. Hope you had a good day today, and are home, well fed, and snug in bed right now! Hope Nick will keep his word about a lovely home cooked meal. Take good care of you, Mary. I pray your next few days will be wonderful, and the airport problem soon forgotten! (BIG HUGS!) : )

  8. Mariette Demarest
    | Reply

    Mary, don’t despair. Disappointment, plus bad news, plus maybe tired from a full schedule equals OVERLOAD.
    This reader is willing to bet that all of your “people” are rooting for you.
    We watch you, we read your posts, we anxiously await the follow-ups.
    Stay safe, we love you.

  9. Cara
    | Reply

    Oh, honey. Too much, too much. I wish you had called Sue and let her feed you, hug you and tuck you in to a bed. I understand why you didn’t. Just keep breathing as best you can and taking the next step. Life will move on and this will be an unpleasant memory. Also, maybe cut yourself a small break? Maybe, maybe the bad work news is your fault. I doubt you are entirely to blame, though. Such things are rarely that clear cut. The rest of it? Not your fault, for sure. You were doing your job, going about your business and winter interfered. That does not make you a mess. Just an unlucky traveler. Keep breathing.

  10. Barbara
    | Reply

    Oh Mary, hope everything works out. So many people care about you, including me.

  11. Sue Chase
    | Reply

    Dang, was so sorry to read this Saturday morning, I had no idea. But I see my friend Joyce did–she has a great comment above. I’m so glad you got one of her legendary hugs while here in the ‘D’ after the flight was cancelled. Her hugs are amazing. We were both feeling quite protective & motherly towards you. It was INCREDIBLE to have you here for two days–our guild was really WOWED & cements my personal laurels as ‘most amazing program person ever’. Thanks for coming, and so sorry about the weather. Being a Midwestern girl, you know it happens. But didn’t Farmers Almanac promise us better?????

  12. Nancy McIntyre
    | Reply

    Oh no. I am so sad to hear this and I TOTALLY would have come to get you and given you wine! I am hopefully whatever bad news you received is just a new door to better news in your future. Xoxo

  13. Assistant Dean Michele
    | Reply

    Sorry about your disappointing trip home, but you are not a mess – you are a wonder and a joy! Our two days with you were spectacular! Thank you for spreading some of your magic on our guild and I hope our paths cross again someday.

  14. Barbara Lusk
    | Reply

    Well Mary, it’s now Saturday afternoon and I just read this. Hopefully you have arrived safely in Chicago and been welcomed home.
    I, too, would have zoomed out to the airport and brought you home. But – I am no substitute for the meal you were expecting. Sewing with you and hearing your stories made the week a tremendous “High” for me !. I am very confident you will be feeliing much better and enjoying the sunshine regardless of the arctic temps outside. Stay warm and thank you for the joy you spread..

    Barb Lusk

  15. Michelle
    | Reply

    I had the same ordeal trying to get out of Houston before Harvey hit. You will get home and Nick will still make you that home-cooked meal. It does get better.

  16. Michelle
    | Reply

    Mary, you are an amazing person, and I’m so happy we met on that yucky day. You have provided a spark ⚡️ in my own quest to figure out what’s next after a hellacious year – thank you!

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