Travel blessings

I started the New Year off on the best foot I know how. Both of them.

Really, though. I signed up for the Yoga and Meditation retreat at Unity of the Valley on New Year’s Day. I’d wanted to go in the past, but taking 3-4 hours out of the day all for myself, away from the family, just didn’t work out. One benefit of the kids visiting their Dad for Christmas is that I was able to do the retreat this year, guilt-free.

Stretching out
I was a bit worried about how 3 hours of yoga would interact with my no-longer-stretchy body and spinally-fused back. But it was fine. There was a lot of chanting and lying down. When we got to the bridge position to open up our 5th chakra, I went to the loo.

That evening, I hosted a Taize prayer service at Center for Spiritual Living – Eugene, along with other members of Joy Notes, the center’s songleading team. Our theme was renewal. We structure the service around and throughout an affirmative prayer with readings, prayer, song and periods of silence.

I never know how these things will turn out. Luke and I play guitar to accompany the songs and fortunately Luke it lots better than I am. I keep trying to include new songs so we don’t sing the same 7 chants over and over again every month. Some months I do better than others at picking chants that we either know or can easily learn. There were one or two rough ones this month.

It’s OK to mess up sometimes
As I sat in silence after one such song, I realized it was OK. I’m going to screw up sometimes. We don’t gain new experiences and insights unless we try new things. And no one complained afterward. Hopefully they’ll all come back next month and bring a friend.

I got home late and tired after putting a million chairs back into place in the sanctuary and musing about the possibility of starting up a bimonthly open mic night.

This morning I was up super early. Pre-dawn early. I had a cab booked for 4:14 am to get me to the airport for a 5:45 am flight. Only problem — the flight was canceled because there was too much fog to land the incoming plane last night.

I called United to figure things out. They’d rebooked me on an awful combination of flights that didn’t get me to Rochester until 7 pm on Friday. I was informed that “due to high call volumes” my wait time was at least 60 minutes. So I downed a cup of tea and drove to the airport through the incredibly thick fog.

I got there and waited with several fellow passengers who’d also been shunted from the flight. We weren’t very happy. But being Eugenians, everyone was fairly cheerful. I let a guy go in line in front of me who’d been accidentally waiting in the wrong line. I think I surprised him.

After rebooking my flight to something slightly better than 4 legs over 2 days, I headed home and went back to sleep, leaving my would-be traveling companions to sort out their gliths. I was strongly tempted to buy them each a coffee.

Airport take 2

Then back to the airport for a 12:45 pm flight to Portland. I got there incredibly early and got on with some knitting in the departure lounge.

Then Mark’s friend helped him over to sit down next to me. I didn’t know that was his name at the time. His friend wanted to stay and wait with him, but security wouldn’t let both he and his wife through to the gate. Even though Mark was blind and couldn’t make it to his gate on his own.

So Mark in the Dark (as his friends call him) had a nice visit. He lives in Arizona somewhere, where he moved when his parents were ailing and needed his help. He’s been blind since birth, so he’s used to it. And there are still lots of things you can do — stuff envelopes (you can feel where the address block is if they’ve been laser printed), configure mail merge, set up macros for Excel, do CAD design for cabinetry. He tried crocheting a few years ago, but it drove him up the wall.

I wonder sometimes if I could still knit if I couldn’t see. Mark in the Dark helped me see how fortunate I am to have this healthy body.

“This will be the highlight of my trip.”

I had to leave Mark waiting for his flight to San Fransisco and get on my rinky dinky plane to Portland. I met two cool women (unrelated) both flying to Chicago. One was returning home to somewhere on the East Coast to get back to work, with an all night layover in Chicago. The other lives in Florence and had planned a birthday weekend in Chicago with a friend — leaving her 4 kids at home for a girls’ weekend getaway. The friend couldn’t make it, though, because of the weather. But she was glad to get to read a book uninterrupted, no matter where she was.

One of the benefits of my canceled early morning flight was that it allowed me to remember a few things. Like my toothbrush. And my new United club passes (I could only find an expired one last night).

Given that I was headed to Portland for a 9.5 hour layover before catching an 11 pm flight to Chicago, I felt for the women with a Chicago all night layover. I’ve been stranded in Chicago. Maybe they’ve upgraded since. Maybe not. She said she was on the budget travel plan and wasn’t able to get a hotel for the night and figured she’d just backpack it in the airport.

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The PDF United club lounge. Please keep your feet off the furniture.

I handed her one of my 2 yearly United club passes (the unexpired one). She was so happy. And grateful. She worried that she wasn’t dressed smartly enough. I told her to act like she was so rich she didn’t care what anyone thought of her.

We all talked about our lives and kids and the joys of travel until being hushed by a fellow passenger who actually wanted to listen to the fight attendant’s safety instructions.

Before she got off the plan to make her connecting flight, she turned to me and said, “This is probably going to be the highlight of my trip. Thank you.”

And here I wait
I’m now in hour 3 of my 9+ hour wait in the Portland airport. There aren’t any earlier flights. The lovely lady at the United club check in desk let me use my expired pass. It’s her first day back from a vacation. She’s also checking in on my flight for me, letting me know how the incoming aircraft is doing on its journey (San Diego to Chicago to Portland).

Plus they have all the hot tea I can drink. And power outlets.

I’ve staked out the quietest spot in the lounge and will hopefully manage a bit of sleep before my flight. So far, the plane has made it to Chicago and is only delayed to arrive here by a few minutes, with plenty of time between flights.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.