My flight home from Florida was threatened by another winter storm on the east coast. How I miss my husband Vic at times like this.
“It’s in the hands of nature and United Air,” he would say, “so we may as well enjoy the wait.” And he did. This warrior who willed his way through most anything surrendered. He did a few yoga stretches on the carpet near the boarding area and settled down with a book. He read while I paced around, sure we were doomed to stay at the airport forever.
I no longer have my sanguine travel companion, but I talk it through with him anyway. I know his lines by heart.
“Oh no, Vic. They’re going to cancel my flight. What if I get stuck in Newark for days?”
“Why don’t you relax and wait,” inner Vic says. “You could get out Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. You love this book.”
“But all the flights are canceled to Boston and New York City.”
“Are they canceled to Ithaca?”
“So breathe and wait.”
On the way to the Tampa airport, I had a heartfelt conversation with my taxi driver about the feather in his cab, the one given to him by a friend who recently died. I got through security without removing my shoes or taking my computer out of the case. This was new. Everyone smiled. I walked through the terminal, found a seat in the sun, and enjoyed my book. Many flights to northeastern cities were grounded, but not my flight. Not yet.
In Newark, I checked text messages for a cancellation. There wasn’t one, so I checked flight status. Ithaca. On time. I boarded and watched the rain. It wasn’t freezing. Not yet.
“What if the car doesn’t start when I get there? What if the roads are closed by snow or ice? What if I get wet and cold with no boots or winter coat?”
“It’s an adventure, Elaine,” I told myself in Vic’s calm voice. “You put a shovel, a broom, and your boots in the car. Besides, you could run from the airport to the car naked without dying.” I remembered how he dared our sons to circle the house buck naked in the wildest winter weather when we all had cabin fever. They ran and laughed.
I dragged my suitcase through snowy roadways at our small local airport. Sixteen degrees. My feet were cold and wet. The car was snowed in, but I got a back door open and crawled into the driver’s seat from the backseat. The car started.
I remembered my favorite childhood story, The Little Engine that Could. I think I can. I think I can. Even with cancer, Vic thought he could.
I wrestled on my winter coat and grabbed my shovel. I think I can. I scraped ice and snow off the windows, paid the parking lot attendant, and made my way to the grocery store. Roads were snow covered and slow.
“What if the roads to my house are impassable? I live 18 miles out of town.” That voice doesn’t give up.
I think I can.
I drove home slowly. The snow was thick, but I followed the few tracks of cars that had gone before. I pulled into the garage, shoveled the walk, built a fire in the wood stove, and filled the nearly empty bird feeder. Then I made myself a cup of tea.
“Hey, Vic. I did it.”
I thought I could.
I find traveling unsettling. What shoves you out of your comfort zone? How do you support yourself when that happens? To learn more about creating an inner dialogue to help clarify a confusing image or problem, see Jean Raffa‘s Active Imagination: A Tool for Self Discovery. For an earlier post about traveling without Vic, see Coming Home.