Hello, Stranger.

Meet me in St. LouisI am so very lucky to be able to itch my wanderlust bug and do some traveling for work. At this moment, I am in St. Louis! I have not had the opportunity (yet) to explore the Midwest, other than Chicago and Lawrence. So count me in!

However, getting to St. Louis turned out to be just a tad more difficult than I thought it would be.

I voluntarily signed up for a 6:30AM flight on a weekend, just so I can have some extra time to explore in St. Louis. Well, I’m glad I signed up for that mega-awfully-early time because my travel day turned out to be mega-awfully-long. But I don’t think I would have exchanged that travel time for the extra time I was planning to spend in St. Louis. Why?

Well, let’s get this straight. Even though the day turned out to be absurdly amazing, it was also a trial of patience. 4:30AM came too early. I drank too much coffee and had the jitters. I got motion sickness at the end of my flight. The airport we were flying into (Chicago) closed down while we were mid-air. We decided to fly donuts around Des Moines until we ran low on gas or figured out what we were going to do (while my motion sickness started up). We landed in Minneapolis, and sat around waiting to figure out if we could even reach our destinations. The Chicago airport was filled with Black Friday-like crowds, but with grumpier people. (Almost) everyone was in in a horrible mood. My final flight was secretly delayed – as in they didn’t communicate that the new departure time wasn’t even close to accurate (it was never updated and I left my standby seat to “board”), and we waited on the plane for an hour before we could even take off. My entire travel time went from about 7.5 hours to 14.5 hours. Yikes.

But I’m not thinking about that. And I would do that again. I haven’t had such amazing, deep conversations as I did during this fiasco. We connected. We bonded. And we shared some of our deeply held, personal thoughts – because we were strangers sharing a similarly stressful experience, and we knew that we would never see one another again (even though I know we would love to). But for some reason, we all opened up, and we were making the best of our long flights and delays. All of us felt the same, and we gained some wisdom from one another. It was beautiful.

One of these strangers said it really well – that airport shutdowns and delays really bring out who you truly are. How do you respond to that stress? Are you angry, or do you try to make the best of it? While I had some grumpy moments – they were just that: moments. I think it really helped that I picked my plane and airport seats well, as I could have been a lot grumpier. But it’s a good reminder that no matter what kind of curve balls you are thrown, and how uncoordinated you are to hit them, your outlook really determines your happiness.

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