I should know by now that the chances for success are never very good when trying to fit a morning at work and an afternoon flight into the same day. There’s always something that needs to get done before the week’s vacation or some last minute running around that causes me to be a frantic mess. This year I managed to remain pretty calm, but what a sight it was as I stood on the icy sidewalk absorbing the bad news that triggered my high-drama, pre-Christmas meltdown. It was the day before Christmas Eve, at what I failed to remember was the top of the afternoon rush hour, and I was due on a flight home that was to take off approximately fifty-nine minutes later. The cabbie told me that what I thought would be a 30-minute dash to the airport would actually take more than an hour-and-a-half. But the icing in the cake was the airline telling me the only flight they could get me on was at 8pm the next day (Christmas Eve) and that it would cost me seven-hundred bucks. As if a switch was flipped, there with my luggage, I started balling—tar-black mascara running down my pale, winter cheeks. (Just a little upset.) By ten o’clock however, I was feeling fine after finding a somewhat reasonable flight for the next morning and meeting up for drinks with friends. After all, what are the holidays without a few bottles of champagne, right?
Despite too little shut-eye and a minor hangover, I made it downstairs for my 3:30am Blue Van pickup. And of course, because this is just how things seemed to be going for me, I waited in the freezing night for fifty minutes. NOTE TO SELF: Never mind calling to check your reservation with the blue van because no one answers, and the background music sounds like a band of circus clowns gone mad. Just before I was about to lose it, the driver showed up, saving me from any further encounters with late-night goings-on down on the street—the garbage pickup, the rats scurrying by, more than one homeless guy straggling about and a drunk yuppie dude who felt the need to howl as he stumbled back to his apartment. Thankfully I made it into the van and to Newark Airport in one piece. With the roads covered in black ice and accidents left and right, one of which resulted in a twenty-something car pile-up, we drove 7 mph, but I made it with plenty of time to spare. For once I could laugh at the scene around me where desperate travelers bargained to switch places in the security line and stood halfway undressed so to breeze through the metal detector.
After a comical morning I made it to Florida still standing. Though it seems sort of backwards that there’s sunshine rather than snow there at Christmas, I was happy to find warm weather to greet me. An extended week at home with my family proved well worth the troubles I encountered getting there—decorating the Christmas tree at the eleventh hour (thanks to some technical difficulties with the artificial one that my mother encountered a few days prior), baking the traditional holiday cakes (and kneading the dough so skillfully my Slovak grandmother would be proud!), catching up with childhood friends I see once a year if I’m lucky and celebrating my 32nd birthday with them, and the newest fun—watching my adorable niece do her best at tearing open presents bigger than her.
But a week and two days passed quickly. Yesterday I found myself frowning at the sight of the cold, colorless, New York sky at the Howard Beach Air Train station on my way back home. And this morning after reminding myself that it’s back to everyday life, I cleaned my apartment only to have the vacuum cleaner cough up what looked like a month’s worth of dust and then having a one-armed fight with it as it tried to suck down a blanket.
The fun and festivities are over. So what now? Time again for resolutions. A new list hangs on my fridge in hopes I do a little better than I did last year.