I am just one of the hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded by Iceland’s volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, or as I like to call it, “Eyja<expletive><expletive>.” But, I am part of an even bigger fraternity. I am just one of the billions of people who have been stranded, dumped and rejected.
You may ask what these two groups have in common. Well, let’s put it this way, I have spent the last week frantically checking every internet site regarding airports, travel, airlines, volcanoes and weather. I have hit refresh on my web-browser every few minutes with the hopes that new information is available. I have sent countless emails making plans, canceling plans, rescheduling plans, and re-canceling plans. I have checked my email every half hour and updated my Facebook and Skype statuses with each bit of hopeful information. I’m an emotional basket case.
Now, let’s jump back a few years. It’s Easter Sunday, and my boyfriend of two years dumps me. I’m sitting in a puddle of my own self-pity, unable to leave my bedroom because I’ll have to tell my roommates what just happened. So, what do I do? I check my email. Maybe he’s changed his mind and written me a love letter. I check mutual social networking websites. Maybe he’s online, writing me said love letter. I check my cell phone. Maybe he called while I was sobbing in the shower and didn’t hear my phone ring. I’m an emotional basket case.
Hope. It’s one of the nastier four-letter words out there. I hope the volcano will stop burping crap into the air. I hope my ex will call. I hope the airlines won’t cancel my most recently rescheduled flight. I hope we’ll get back together.
In both cases, I’m just sitting here, waiting, because there’s that glimmer of possibility that everything could work out.
So, how does one avoid this black-hole of self-pity? Well, I’m currently eating a lot of gelato and drinking a lot of cappuccino, two things which just don’t taste the same in the United States. With the ex, I met him two weeks later at a wedding, where I made sure I looked smashing, and then let him know that I had a date later that night. It’s finding that little indulgence to make you feel better. Too much gelato, and I’ll never fit into all those cute clothes I’m bringing with me to California. Too much “take that, ex-boyfriend!” dating and I’ll never examine my own culpability in a failed relationship. However, in moderation, both make me feel pretty good.
That being said, I still can’t completely kick the “hope” bug. When the airlines canceled today’s ticket late last night, I promptly checked my airline and airport websites when I woke up to see if the flight had been “uncanceled.” This was pretty silly on my part because I used to work in the aviation industry, and I know what a major decision it is to cancel a flight 12 hours before take-off. I know the airlines are not going to say, “oh, changed my mind, back on!” Yet, I checked anyway.
Similarly, about six months after my big break-up, I met a guy through a mutual friend and asked (my friend) for his number. “Hi! I’m Ben’s friend, Jenn.” Yes, I really said that on the phone, it’s not just a line Dr. Seuss edited from The Cat in the Hat. The first phone call was great. His schedule was up in the air, so he’d have to call me later to confirm which day we would get together.
I made sure that my cutest clothes were ready, so when he did call, I’d look amazing, but not like I was trying too hard.
Similarly, my airplane clothes sit ready for the actual flight.
Ben’s friend didn’t call for four days. In what I like to think of as an “act of self-confidence,” I called him again. My logic being maybe this week wasn’t good for him. We could arrange a specific date for next week.
Similarly, I called my airline. It didn’t look like flight restrictions were going to be lifted, so why not voluntarily postpone, end the useless hoping, and have a concrete plan for the following week?
Ben’s friend didn’t answer. Neither did the airline.
I did get a call from him the next evening. If I wanted to go out with him and his friends (not including my friend Ben), they were doing something that night. After that, he was pretty busy. I’m proud to say that I declined this less-than-chivalrous invitation and went dancing with my friends instead.
As I write this, I am currently on the phone (on hold) with my airline. But if they say something along those lines of what Ben’s friend said, I’ll jump at the chance… much like a 15-year-old girl would jump at the chance of seeing that vampire dude from Twilight.
We might not all be part of the elite group of “volcanoly-challenged-stranded-travelers,” but we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve waited and hoped, looked a little desperate, and even succumbed to a few vices. The good news is, with time (another horrible four-letter word) these things actually get better. It’s the waiting that sucks. And the hoping.
Believe it or not, all those yucky feelings after a break-up (or rejection) slowly get better. Unfortunately, gelato is not a substitute for time. But, a day will come when you’ve had an amazing first date, and it’s exciting to wait and hope for a call about the next one. As for me, I’m just waiting to hear those three little words, “clear for takeoff.”