Traveling Overseas… and then some 6/21/2011 by Ashley Wakefield

As I sit in Plaza Zocodover in Toledo, Spain and look at my surroundings, it is hard to imagine that I could have a care in the world. The sun is shining, the people are friendly, and I happen to be wearing one of my favorite sundresses as I sip casually on a Limon Fanta in the square. Although my experience in Toledo has been wonderful thus far, getting here was another story altogether.

It all started on June 17th when I was scheduled to fly out of Columbus airport at 5:57pm. Thinking we needed to make plenty of time to check my bag and find my terminal, my mother and I left at approximately 2pm that afternoon. Because my suitcase weighed a ton (and because I like to boss my younger brother around) I asked him to put it in the trunk of the car. My mother and I finally made our way to the car and we headed off towards Columbus, which from Cincinnati is about an hour’s worth of driving. Only a few exits from the airport, as I am relaxing in the car, lip synching the words to the new Enrique song my mother’s phone rings and she answers, “Hey , baby” — this can only mean it is one of my brothers or my father. This question was answered quickly with her screaming, “YOU WHAT? YOU PUT HER SUITCASE WHERE?!” My heart immediately sunk into my stomach as I grabbed the phone.

“What’s wrong, Devin? Where is my suitcase?”

“Sis, you’re not going to be happy. It’s not in the car you’re driving.”

*Deep Breath* “Ooookay… that means it is… where exactly”

“Well, I put it in the other car…which is still here at home…in our driveway”

I hang up the phone and scream, “TURN AROUND!” Surprising me (and I think herself as well) my mother pulls an illegal U-turn on the highway and hightails it down the road. Luckily we had left in plenty of time to make it all the way home and back and still catch my flight, but the added stress was not needed for an already stressed-out me. After finally arriving home, we quickly switch the bag into the other car and take off again. This time I promised myself there wont be any mishaps.

And then I broke a promise to myself. As I wheeled my enormous suitcase up to the desk to check in the man looks at my ticket and makes a strange face.

“This flight has been delayed due to weather, ma’am, and it won’t take off until 11pm.”

I look out the window and a cloudless, radiant sky. “Weather, right. Well that won’t work because my connecting flight leaves at 11. I have to be in Newark by at least 10pm”

“Okay ma’am. There is one more flight that is leaving very soon. You will need to run to the terminal because it will be boarding in just a few minutes.”

He hands me my tickets and checks my bag. I had enough time to hug my mother good-bye before I took off through a (thankfully) empty security and to my terminal — “whew, made it in time”. I had made it in enough time, in fact, to use the restroom before the flight. So as I walked toward the restrooms, what feels like a bungee-cord releases from my back — my brand new cross-body purse. I try to grasp the strap at the last moment but it was too late and it went flying across the room and crashes into the wall adjacent to me. Hoping that my phone, camera, iPod and more importantly Werther’s carmels weren’t smashed, I collect the mangled purse and throw away the useless strap and head back to board the plane, forgetting all about even having to use the restroom.

As I sit in this beautiful city of Toledo, admiring the ancient walls of brick and the stones embedded in the sidewalks, I am surprisingly able to look back on this day of travel without wanting to critically hurt someone. I can actually almost — and I stress the word almost –  laugh at my misfortunes. In the end, I have my suitcase, I made my 11pm flight to Madrid, and I bought a new purse. This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Traveling isn’t always easy, and in fact most times it isn’t easy at all, but when you finally end up at your destination — whether that is back home with your family for Thanksgiving, meeting a friend across the country, or say even Toledo, Spain, something clicks that all of that fuss was well worth it.

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