1. It started on Monday night. I received a text informing me that the flight I was to take first thing Tuesday morning from Manchester to Heathrow, to connect to my flight from Heathrow to Charlotte, had been cancelled.
2. After spending sometime on the phone to BA last night my flights were re-booked with American Airlines. Unfortunately when I arrived at Manchester Airport (possibly the busiest airport full of the most grumpy people early in the morning), after waiting for an hour in a queue, I was told that despite the phone call and the print offs I had in my bag, I was not booked on either flight for today.
3. Half an hour later I was booked back on the flights and had to run through security (not easy) arriving at the gate as the flight started boarding.
4. The flight left on time at 9:40am. By 10:30 I was being served meatballs. I am not sure whether this was for breakfast or lunch or dinner, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense regardless of your time zone.
5. A smooth flight and arrival in Philadelphia ahead of schedule. Passport control, customs, baggage claim and baggage re-checked in for connecting flight to Charlotte.
6. Two hours waiting for connection only to get to the gate (final person in the queue) to be told that I was not in fact booked on the flight I had the confirmation for. Another run to another desk where a lovely lady, after numerous phone calls finally got me on the flight.
7. As the plane took off I realised that it was highly unlikely my luggage would be with me. I was right, so another desk and another kind lady who arranged for my bag (still at Philadelphia airport) to be brought to my hotel once it had caught me up and landed in Charlotte. (It was dropped off at 2:30 am – and thankfully left at the reception desk as I was fast asleep by then.)
These are the unequivocal facts of the day.
But there is a story that is much more important than this list.
This story is of a day where every unexpected situation was dealt with without anxiety.
And although I had one moment of blinking back tears (at the gate in Philadelphia – I am human after all), I was fine.
When I heard about this opportunity to go the writers’ workshop I am here to attend my first thought was this was impossible and I couldn’t manage it. Fear has a loud voice.
But I have learnt enough not to reject new opportunities out of hand.
For a while I lived with the thought.
I dreamt about being the kind of person who would fly across the world to meet a group of people she has never met in the flesh, the kind of person who copes with the unexpected, the kind of person who is up for an adventure.
After the encouragement of my husband, and my lovely book club ladies who gave a strong voice to the opportunity and potential of this trip (if nothing else, my great friend and often editor Marita observed, it would make good content for the blog!) I took a deep breath and booked my flights.
Since then, although I was expecting to, I haven’t found myself agonising about this decision. I haven’t felt overwhelming anxiety about it.
I was nervous to leave the kids, and felt the weight of the lists and arrangements to enable life to carry on as normally as possible for them for the 5 days I am away and when I told someone I was coming on this trip I couldn’t help but make a little squeal of apprehension.
But I haven’t been waking in the night with my heart racing, and the night before I flew I slept pretty well.
And yesterday if I had known in advance all that was to happen I would have been convinced that anxiety would be prowling after me, waiting to destabilise me, to take my legs out from underneath me. But it didn’t. I was okay.
Turns out, I can do hard things.
Turns out, the hard work is worth it.
Turns out, people are kind, and a dose of gratitude and a winning smile can accomplish a lot.
Turns out, it is possible to change and get better.
If you feel hopeless or that you will never be able to be brave again please let me reassure you, you will.
And if you feel regret for all the years you have missed (as I often do), let me tell you (and remind myself) there is still time for us.