It came as no surprise to me to find myself rumpled, undressed and checking email the Sunday afternoon before our Monday morning departure. My suitcase sat empty on the bed in our room surrounded by a pile of shoes, styling irons and various warm weather attire, none of which was actually packed.
Hurricane Ike was making a run through the Yucatan and into the gulf at that very moment and I, with Ryan leaning over my shoulder every few minutes, was closely watching the projections for this cat 4 monster. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous.
"Do you think I should take the Teva's?" I ask Ryan as he goes back to packing after one of the over-the-shoulder checks on weather.com.
"Why? We're going to be at a resort."
"Well, because of the hurricane." Is my exasperated response.
"Because of the hurricane? How will Teva's help you in a hurricane?" Typical man question.
"Well, I'm not wearing Coach flip-flops in 20 feet of water! That's just ridiculous."
Ryan, appreciating my logic and having back packed through a large portion of the Philippines' tropical climate, shrugs his shoulders, "Yeah, take the Teva's. Better safe than sorry."
"Oh, who am I kidding!?" (I'm beginning to lose it now) "Teva's aren't going to help unless they can identify a body by footwear!"
"In that case, better wear the Coach flip flops. No one will believe you own Teva's." At the panic glazing my eyes, he changes his tone and raises a hand for peace, "Calm down, Honey. It probably won't even rain. You'll see." Ryan continues to put things in his bag and is now putting things in mine as well. For fear that he might actually try to pack for me, heaven forbid, I reluctantly leave the minute by minute updates and start the process myself, muttering about varying evacuation plans.
Ten minutes later, and having made zero progress on the packing situation, I am back on the computer, this time having printed a map of the city and am industriously highlighting 6 different evacuation routes, when I hear Ryan on the phone. From his end of the conversation I gather he is talking to a US Airways rep about the flight.
"Oversold? Tell me something..Kathy, is it?...Tell me something Kathy, why is it, do you think, that when there are 150 seats on a plane, the ticket agents sell 175. I know I'm not a rocket scientist, but tell me why that makes sense to you and not to me. I just don't get it."
I can hear only his side of the conversation, but I'm pretty sure I know what's happening and panic starts to rise up in my throat. I can't stop the questions even though I know it makes him crazy when I do this when he's on the phone. I find him in the next room and begin to frantically whisper in his ear.
"Oversold?! What does she mean they're oversold!? How can that happen? Is there another flight tomorrow? When's the next flight?!"
"Ssshhh!" He waves me off with a flick of his hand and marches into the living room. "No, not you Kathy. I was shushing someone else.." He shoots me an incriminating gaze. "Perhaps you'd be able to tell me when the next flight to Phoenix leaves Portland on Monday....Three in the afternoon? Nope. Not going to work. Our connecting flight leaves Phoenix at 9:20 am. Is there another flight from Phoenix to Cancun on Monday? Not till Wednesday?!"
At this point I'm following him around the house, literally biting my tongue and clasping my hands behind my back in a saintly effort to restrain myself from wrestling the cell phone from my husbands hands and ripping the illustrious Kathy a new one. I am repeating, "What are we going to do?" like the whispered mantra of the insane. The logical side of me is thinking it's convenient that I haven't packed yet.
"Ok, Kathy. Here's the deal. I'm taking a second honeymoon with my wife and on top of that, tomorrow's my birthday. I know that doesn't matter to you- but it matters to me. So if there's any way at all you can get us to Cancun tomorrow, we would really appreciate it."
I wait an unending beat while Kathy clicks what are probably ugly acrylic fingernails on her demon possessed keyboard.
Ryan responds with lifted brows, "Philadelphia? And there's a connecting flight? hm. ok, that's an option. Well, let me talk to my wife and I'll get back with you. Thanks." He hangs up the phone and looks at me. By this time I have made a plan. I'm very good at plans. I start talking even before he has relayed her words to me. I caught enough that I've been able to keep up to speed.
"A flight tonight."
"What?" He's looking at me, uncomprehending. "What flight tonight?"
"Is there a flight to Phoenix tonight that we could get on? Then we'd be there for the Cancun flight in the morning and we already know a cheap motel from last years trip." *see earlier post- The Phoenix Shenanigans*
His eyes light up. I can see his Smither's type scheming coming into them. "Yeeesssss....this could work."
He flips open the phone and rapid dials Kathy's associate, Darlene somethingorother to re- explain everything we've just discussed with Kathy. Soon he's hanging up and a panicked look is skirting around on his face.
"Ok. There's a flight that goes to Phoenix tonight and it's oversold by one. There's a good chance we could get on that flight. We'd be there in time for the Cancun flight in the morning IF there's room on that flight for us. The way it looks right now for that flight is pretty sketchy, there's already 6 people on the waiting list and the planes full, but it looks like our best shot."
"We're not going are we?" Despair settles in.
"Yes we are. We are." He insists. "But the issue is that the flight for Phoenix leaves in two and a half hours. The kids aren't packet yet. Your mother isn't expecting them until four. You haven't finished packing either." He holds up his hands, questioning. "What are we doing?"
"I don't know. Is it worth it to rush? I don't know."
"I don't know either." He looks at me for a minute, waits for the plan to formulate in my mind.
"So what are we doing?" He asks again.
"Running." Is my only answer as I speed dial my mother, send her into a panic of her own and begin throwing random articles of clothing into the suitcases. One high heeled white sandal, one parka, three umbrellas... Stop! I order myself. Pull yourself together! Only ONE white sandal?!
I throw the other in and continue on the rampage.
My mother shows up minutes later to finish packing for the kids and get my house ready to be empty for a week. We toss half packed bags into the back of the car, synchronize our watches and blaze into traffic for the eighty mile trip to the Portland airport with a heartfelt wave to the kids out the car window. Gone are the days when we linger over teary good bye's with the children. We wave. They wave back. And then it's back to business.
"We're not going to make it."
"I love how you always have a positive attitude."
"I'm just saying, we're not going to make it." I adjust my newly purchased Paris Hilton type sunglasses and check myself out in the side mirror.
"Would you stop? You look fine." He slaps at my hands that are reaching for the cosmetic bag in my purse.
With a huffing sigh I sit back, try to force myself to breathe. Fifteen minutes ago I was checking the weather on the computer.
"C'mon FedEx. You can do better than seventy, can't you? We're late here!"
"I will start. Pretend you have late deliveries or something and use that handy pedal on the right."
"That's it. I'm slowing down."
"No! Ok, ok. Fine. I can't even look at how fast you're NOT going." In rebellion I reach for the cosmetic bag and fill the car with the fine dust of Covergirl, sending Ryan into the much anticipated fit of sneezing.
His parents meet us at Troutdale on the outskirts of Portland and his dad agrees to drive us the rest of the way and take our car back to their house. The last fifteen minutes of the drive prove to be the most grueling as Dave tries to get the feel of the Subaru's clutch. We arrive with minor whiplash and most of that covergirl smeared on the back of the seat in front of me. We jump from the still moving car, grab our bags and rush to the counter.
It is two hours later when we call his dad again for a ride back to the Sr. Kendall's. The flight was full.
"Are you telling me..." I begin as Ryan and I make our way out of the airport, "That we just did all of that for nothing? You know I only packed ONE pair of shorts? I'm probably going to have to go around butt naked the whole time thanks to this fiasco."
"Don't worry. The sunglasses cover most of the rest of you."
I slide him an impatient look.
"Give me something to be pleased about here. One thing. I'm begging."
"Well...we're going to Philly in the morning. That should be interesting."
"And why not?"
"Because it's only a possibility. Not an absolute."
"There are millions of possibilities. You could have been struck by lightning walking into the airport tonight."
"Is that supposed to be the thing I'm glad about?"
"That's the spirit!" With a clap on the shoulder he breezes through the revolving doors to meet his dad, still trying to drive my subaru, who's waiting in the arrivals zone.
I have a moment to think, 'Happy Second Honeymoon to Us' before his dad rips into airport traffic and launches us down the freeway in first gear.
Either way, I think sunnily, I'm not driving kids to school or making peanut butter and jelly, taking phone calls or paying bills. I remember Cabo well and how misfortune often turned into adventure on that trip.
By the time we reach the small suburb of Gresham and his dad is cheerfully pulling into the KFC parking lot, I'm in a much better mood.
Philadelphia awaits. Maybe. Or Phoenix. Or possibly Charlotte. For now, we are falling onto the food like starving Ethiopian's and planning a rousing game of Pinochle. For now, I don't curse whoever it was who thought of 'stanby' tickets.
Ryan is chattering with his dad about trying to catch the 5:20 am flight to Phoenix even though it's oversold and there are several people on the waiting list with higher priority than us. I try to talk sense into him, like all good wives everywhere, but he's not listening so I give up.
Later, we crash onto the couches in the Sr. Kendall's living room and set the alarm for three a.m. We will have about three hours of sleep tonight and all for a flight I'm positive we won't make. But I let him entertain his delusions and when the alarm goes off a heartbeat after we've drifted off, I continue to let him have them.
It's Monday. Dave will drive us to the airport, again. Coffee in hand, we set out. Ryan is talking about the plan for Phoenix and I am going over the restaurants in the airport in my head, choosing one that will serve a decent breakfast since I know we'll be there at breakfast time as there's NO WAY we're making the Phoenix flight. I say nothing to Ryan, but am not happy as you can see. Note the contrast between his travel euphoria and my own sense of REALITY.
Little does he know, I also researched several Philadelphia hotels the night before and chosen one with a free shuttle and continental breakfast near the airport. I am nothing if not prepared, and sneakily so.
The drop off is smooth and we check in. It doesn't look good, says the ticket agent to Ryan. But Dave has already left and we're stuck. Through security and down the long corridor we go, lugging our suitcases and the giant carry on I intend to pass off as a purse regardless of the fact that you could fit a large purse, a laptop computer and a medium sized terrier breed dog in there.
We wait. Somewhere there is a TV blasting the Pink Panther theme song all over the terminal.
Ryan is making his eyebrows dance up and down with the music in an attempt at entertainment. It's not working.
Finally the crowd converges, the lines form. The plane is boarding AND (drumroll please) you guessed it. Full flight. No room for standby's.
Ryan looks dismayed. He was so sure.
"Alright you. You're buying me breakfast. Get up." I stand in front of him, hands on hips.
"I was so sure we'd get on." He looks confused.
"You can think about it over french toast and let me know what you come up with. Let's go."
We lug our baggage back down the unending corridor and flop into hard plastic chairs at the diner.
"So," he begins. "I suppose we're going to Philly."
"That's right." I say as I butter my toast, unperturbed.
"You knew all along, didn't you?"
"We have a reservation at the Comfort Inn in Essington for tonight."
"Essington...hm. What other sorts of things do you know?" He's interested now.
"Oh."I say, glancing up at him. "You wouldn't even believe..."
*Please stay tuned for next week's episode of Yucatan Wednesdays,
City of Brotherly Love and Broken Brackets*
City of Brotherly Love and Broken Brackets*