There’s a little rock in the center of Olympia, Washington. It’s in the corner of a little park that has lots of hobos in it (Did you know that the term hobo comes from “homeward bound”? I think that’s lovely.). On this little rock there is a little plaque that says something like “The End of the Oregon Trail.” Like right in that spot. Right there. Okay well I just looked it up on Wikipedia and I guess that spot is the end of one of the Oregon Trail’s weird little extension trails. I mean, The Oregon Trail ends in Oregon. Which makes sense. But that aside, it was especially auspicious when Billy and I came across this rock in Olympia because we had had quite a journey behind us.
We went to Olympia for my friend Mary’s wedding. We left Boston at 6pm-ish on Thursday for a stopover in Milwaukee where oh no there are tornadoes and floods. The airport was under 8 inches of water, they told us. So they landed the plane in Indianapolis and there we stayed. We got off the plane around 9pm and everything was closed. They said stay close. Stay close! they said. We might get back in the air in fifteen minutes so stay close in case we have to leave! An hour passed and they said we had to stay close for another hour. Don’t go far! And another hour. And another hour. Meanwhile, the air conditioning is blasting in that airport like I’ve never seen. I was wearing pants, sneakers, and a sweatshirt and I was laying on the floor shivering. Midnight comes. We wait. I try to ask the guy at the desk if we can get to Seattle. We are not interested in going to Milwaukee, sir. We will be out of your hair as soon as we get out of godforsaken Indianapolis and on a plane bound for Seattle. We do not wish to be a problem for you. He says stay close. He cannot help us get to Seattle. He can tell us nothing about anything. He doesn’t know shit about fuck. They finally announce that the flight is officially canceled which means we get hotel vouchers. Oh thanks guy, thanks for the hotel voucher at 2am. I’m really excited to go to sleep now that it’s 2am. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to go to sleep at a normal time that adults go to sleep at normally. I definitely wasn’t laying on the ground shivering and crying in frustration, trying to put my whole body in Billy’s messenger bag for warmth. A warm bed at a hotel is of no use to me before the hour of 2am.
Oh sarcasm, my old friend.
So they give us a voucher and tell us we should come back to the airport at 8am to get on a 10am flight to Milwaukee. Again. Billy and I have no interest in going to Milwaukee. I try to tell him. The man does not care. I say “are there flights to Seattle tomorrow?” The guy says (file this under Things That Actually Happened) “if I tell you something about a flight to Seattle and then it doesn’t happen you’re gonna be like ‘this guy told me this’ and we can’t have that.” To which I responded “I promise I won’t?” Still they cannot tell us that we will get to Seattle. They have no information for us at this time.
FINE. We go to the hotel. The bed is weird. We sleep for four hours then get up and get dressed and drag our tired asses back to the goddamned Indianapolis airport. We get in a line with all the people who were on the plane with us the night before. The line does not move. I start to lose it. I tell Billy I’m going to find us tickets to goddamned Seattle. I run all over the place in the airport and finally Southwest has a flight to Seattle and it leaves in the afternoon and it’s only $950 for the two of us oh goddddddddd FINE WHATEVER FINE. We buy two one-way tickets to Seattle on Southwest and we wait around all morning and most of the afternoon at the godforsaken Indianapolis airport (during which time we watch the delightful film The Proposal) and then we get on the plane and we fly to Chicago and then to Seattle and it’s fine. We get on a shuttle and we meet my high school friends for dinner and we drink too much wine. I wore a sequined top in celebration.
The thing is this: I could very easily allow myself to wallow in frustration. The inconvenience, the expense, the unwillingness of the Midwest Airlines employees to give us information, the fact that we missed a day of spending time with friends we see maybe twice a year. I could get upset and call the airline and demand that they pay for our Southwest flight. But it’s petty. We have jobs and we can’t afford it but we won’t be destitute. And when you really think about it, we flew across the country in the sky and it only took us 27 hours. That’s a little more than a full day. That is a MIRACLE. Seriously! Those pioneers on the Oregon Trail–it took them half a lifetime. Their kids died along the way of dysentery for god’s sake. Nobody died on our journey across the country. We made it in just over one day and we were there in time to attend my friend Mary’s wonderful, relaxing, feminist, Hawaiian, polka wedding. And it was beautiful.
There’s that dreaded positivity again.