I am one of those wide-eyed, flerfy derfy people who believe that everything happens for a reason, and that through every notable event or dream, the universe, or God, if you will (and I know some of you most certainly won't) is trying to tell us something.
I am also the kind of person who will book her family on a 7:20 a.m. flight out of Philly on New Year's Day to save a few hundred bucks, even if it means we have to ring in the new year and drag the kids out of bed four hours later to get to the airport in plenty of time for takeoff.
Despite the early departure, I was determined to get the new year started off on a positive note.
The kids were dressed, the bags were packed, the car was loaded, and we would have been on the road by 4:45, except that Larry couldn't find his wallet, because it was in my purse, where he'd put it the night before, to make sure he didn't lose it.
That was setback number one.
Setback number two: we had to return the rental car with a full tank of gas, and the first four gas stations we stopped at were closed. The fifth gas station proved to be the charm, as the saying does not go, and we were back on the road in earnest.
Except for setback number three: We were using the directions in Larry's brain. These directions had been transferred to Larry's brain by Larry's brother the night before. Which was, as I've mentioned, New Year's Eve. A little before midnight. Which I think we can all agree is an excellent time for learning new things!
So, after driving for twenty minutes, Larry looked around and noticed that something seemed out of place. Specifically: the airport. I checked the GPS on my phone, and sure enough, it said we were just north of WE'VE DONE SOMETHING HORRIBLY WRONG AND ARE NOW MANY MANY MORE THAN 20 MINUTES AWAY FROM A DESTINATION THAT WAS ONLY 20 MINUTES AWAY FROM OUR POINT OF ORIGIN HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU TOO <INSERT RATCHETY NOISEMAKER SFX HERE>!
We arrived at the Southwest terminal at 6:50 am (flight at 7:20), only to discover setback number 4: a baggage check line ten times the length of this story IF YOU CAN EVEN IMAGINE SOMETHING THAT LONG. You can't? Me either. I printed our boarding passes, bypassed the line, and calmly explained our predicament to the woman behind the counter, whose new year's resolution was evidently not "Be more helpful and friendly to Southwest customers."
"You'll never make it," she said. "Even if I checked your bags right now (which I have no intention of doing, because GUESS WHO DIDN'T GET HER NEW YEAR'S LAY LAST NIGHT AND ENDED UP ABANDONING HER NO-HAAGEN DAZS RESOLUTION ONLY EIGHT MINUTES INTO 2011? ME, THAT'S WHO.)"
So, we waited on line with everyone else and missed our flight, and booked ourselves on standby for the 9:55 to Raleigh/Durham, out of which we would "probably but not definitely" be able to connect to Nashville.
Through all of this, I managed to remain zentastically calm and optimistic, even when I noticed Patrick's brand new pillow pet had gone missing just as we were about to board and Larry had a near-heart attack dashing through the airport retracing our steps to find it, only to come back empty handed.
Even then, I was fine. Like a blind Mary Ingalls, desperately searching for the bright side. I THINK I SEE A LIGHT, PA!
At least Larry found his wallet!
At least we were able to return the car with a full tank!
At least we made it to the airport in time!
No? Okay! At least we were able to get on another flight! And they didn't charge us the difference!
And at least Patrick doesn't secretly believe stuffed animals have souls like I do did when I was little, and isn't crying about his lost pillow pet!
At least we got the connecting flight out of Raleigh-Durham!
At least the flight attendant is only rolling her eyes and admonishing us for not hearing the call for "family boarding" and not kicking us repeatedly in our crotches like she clearly wants to, JEEZ, LADY, CALM DOWN, WE DIDN'T HEAR YOU.
"YOU SHOULD BE ON THE PLANE BY NOW!" she scolded.
AND I SHOULD BE HOME SUCKING BACK A BLOODY MARY BY NOW, BUT HERE WE ALL ARE. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU, TOO.
I guess the reason she was so annoyed at us for boarding with the C group (as our tickets stated we should), is because by the time we boarded the aircraft, the four remaining seats on the plane were all middle seats, officially making us That Disruptive Family That Gives Everyone On The Plane Who Does Not Have Children The Smug Satisfaction of Knowing They Totally Made the Right Decision.
Our first victim (somewhat grudgingly) gave up his aisle seat so I could sit next to Patrick, and then the woman in the window seat offered to move so that Gus could sit with us as well. But Gus wasn't having it.
He'd already buckled in and started chatting up his new friend.
When we'd all finally settled in, after we'd had our drinks and peanuts, and Gus had stopped talking long enough to let his new best friend get some sleep, I took a deep breath of relief and gratitude, and I closed my eyes.
2011 loves when I do that.
Within one second of me closing my eyes, our plane hit a massive air pocket and dropped, eliciting a collective gasp from everyone on board and sending Larry's Keith Richard's memoir flying into the air.
"It's okay!" I reassured Gus, who was looking at me wide-eyed from his seat across the aisle, while Patrick miraculously remained asleep with his head in my lap. "We're fine. We are totally fine."
After all, I thought, we've made it this far. Surely that has to be a good sign.
On the subject of signs, it might be worth noting that when I got up to write this post at 5am, I had such an enthusiastic spring in my step that I slipped in my socks and fell down the stairs.
And I didn't break a single bone!
Only good things in 2011!
Happy New Year.