Every so often I randomly see something and it makes me think about something or someone I knew way back when. Yesterday something like that happened. I was browsing at the used bookstore in the mall… browsing because it is January and I am post-Christmas broke and can’t really afford to buy anything, and I saw the book by Augusten Burroughs, titled Running With Scissors. I’ve never read it. Somewhere along the way, I meant to. After all, my friend Leslie said it was a really interesting book, and she knew I’d really enjoy reading it.
A few years ago, I flew to Nashville for a national convention that I was attending with a group of women who were all part of the same organization as me. Everyone in the group flew together…that is, everyone, but me. To save costs I decided to get a connecting flight while everyone else in the group flew direct from Minneapolis to Nashville.
When I got to my connecting city, I found out that my flight had been delayed. I was on standby, by myself, at the Chicago O’Hare airport, for over 9 hours. I realize this isn’t exactly the most devastating thing that could happen to me while traveling (I’m thinking plane crash is way worse…but anyways) but you know, this was the first time I had ever taken a trip away by myself, without my children, without my husband. And here I was, spending the first part of my weekend in the Chicago O’Hare airport, alone.
So immediately I grabbed my backpack and sat down in a chair in the airport lobby and started crying. That lasted for a couple of minutes. Why did bad things always happen to me? Then it occurred to me that I was still away, by myself; my children all safely at home with their grandma. I was alone. I had my journal, my iPod, a few good books. 9 hours of solitude wasn’t that bad after all, I guess.
Suddenly, the lady sitting across from me said to me, “Hey, was your flight delayed, too?” It turns out that like me, she was flying solo to Nashville to the same convention, had taken the same flight to save costs, and was stuck at the Chicago airport all day, just like me.
And just like that, I had made a friend for the day. We spent the day talking about everything. It was like we had known each other forever. We laughed when we realized we had brought the exact same book by the same author with us on the trip. She told me that American airlines was giving food vouchers for a free meal. When American airlines refused to give me one, she demanded that I get one, too. When they gave me a $5.00 one after they had given her a $10.00 voucher, she told me that we’d just combine our vouchers together, to make it more fair. We ate at Chili’s at the airport and our food went cold while we sat there chatting away about our whole lives.
Every half hour or so we’d go to the standby list to see if we had made it on the next flight to Nashville…only to find out that we had once again been bumped to the next flight. After a certain point, we stopped looking. We decided that we would just hang out at the airport and enjoy ourselves until our rescheduled flight. After all, at least we had each other to keep each other company.
When we finally boarded the plane for Nashville, we got separated and ended up sitting in different sections of the plane. But when we got to Nashville and got off the plane, I was surprised to find her standing there, waiting for me, to give me a hug goodbye.
Leslie and I had hit it off so well that I was beyond excited to share my story with my friends when they picked me up at the airport. They expected to find me all depressed and exhausted. Rather, I spent the entire ride from the airport to our hotel talking about this really cool woman I had just befriended at the airport.
The next morning I ran into her at the convention. We hugged each other, laughed, and introduced each other to our friends. We were refreshed, clean, and not in the airport.
After she was out of sight, I remarked to one of my friends how bummed I was that I would probably never see her again and my friend said, “Well you can always call her to have lunch when you get back home…you exchanged numbers, right?”
Um…no. Have I ever mentioned how I tend to be bad at making new friends, or rather, keeping them? Well, in my whole day at the airport with someone who had many things in common with me…such as having four kids, with more than one with special needs, for one…I had never thought that I should give her my email address, phone number, anything to stay in touch beyond the one day. But do you think I thought about that? Nope. Apparently she hadn’t, either.
Still, when I think about all the friends I’ve had in my lifetime, I include Leslie, whose last name I might have known a while ago but long ago had forgotten. I’d like to think that one day I’ll randomly run into her somewhere and we’ll recognize each other and laugh about our one day at the Chicago airport, and how much fun we had together that day I’d like to think of what a great story that would make, if we were at the Chicago airport again one day, and we both happened to get stranded at the airport while we were waiting for another flight.
And for crying out loud, I’d at least get her phone number, or Facebook her, or something like that.
But for that one day at least, she was my best friend in the entire world.
Oh, and I finally bought the book, yesterday, too. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I heard from a friend that it’s really good.