This past Tuesday, I got up at 2:30 am (ow.) to catch a 6 am flight to Buffalo (via O’Hare), where I met my friend Barbara and her friend (who is now my friend) Jenn, at which point we collected a rental car (not without hilarity ensuing) and drove to Niagara Falls, Canadian side.
The trip wasn’t exactly how I’d originally planned it. Gowan (aka Lawrence Gowan, keyboardist of Styx) was playing three solo shows, and I had tickets to all three. But then my original travel partner backed out, leaving me with (a) no one to share a rental car with (and the attendant problem of appalling night vision) and (b) no one to share a hotel room with. In other words, twice the cost right there. Barbara and I had talked about sharing a room, but she had to leave Friday because she had somewhere to be on Saturday. I have to give her credit for suggesting I come out for just the two shows, because I honestly never thought of it. After initial internal resistance, I reminded myself that two shows were better than none, and booked that godawfully early flight so I’d arrive at about the same time as Barbara and Jenn. (Minor perk: I was able to use miles to go first class in that direction.) It still all wasn’t going to be cheap (B&J also wanted to stay at a hotel that was twice as much as what I’d budgeted), but it was going to be worth it.
Leaving on Friday gutted me. I’d had such a blast, and the second concert was better than the first, and I knew the third would be even better than that. Band members had expressed their sadness that we were leaving. I found out Jenn might have stayed…but I’d already sold my Friday ticket (plus my original travel buddy’s ticket).
We said our sad farewells at the airport and parted ways. It was a short hop to Cleveland, where I’d catch my flight to LAX.
But that was not to be.
I got to Cleveland only to learn my flight had been cancelled, and they couldn’t book me on another flight until the following afternoon. It was all I could do not to sit down wearing my Moonlight Desires T-shirt, put on my Gowan concert playlist, and cry.
After standing in line for an hour and a half to get booked on a direct flight leaving at 5 pm Saturday (rather than the original 2:30 pm flight that would go to Dulles first and get me in later than the 5 pm flight, WTF?), I pulled my shit together, booked a hotel (they gave me a voucher for a discount on a hotel*, but I was put on hold and my phone was dying so I said fuck that), and off I went.
And you know, the more I thought about it, the more grateful I was. The delay sucked mightily, there’s no two ways about that. But there are far worse things, and I found myself reflecting on how lucky I really am.
- The two shows were fabulous. I never thought I’d see Gowan solo live, and now I’ve done it four times (eight shows total) in three years (he squeezes them in between 100+ Styx shows a year).
- I got to hang out with some of the band members and a couple of the crew, all of whom are genuinely nice people who are fun to get to know.
- I made a new friend (Jennifer) and got to spend time with old friends I don’t see nearly enough (Barbara, Jo, Andrea, Marci) (I know I’m forgetting people. I’m sorry. I really do love you all; I just killed those brain cells with alcohol.)
- Although I tried to keep the cost of the trip down, I have a credit card, and the hotel and extra meals, etc., aren’t going to break the bank.
- The hotel had a spa. I sat in it. The bed was excellent. I slept hard and long, and lo, it was good.
- The airport had free wifi so I was able to get a solid couple hours of copyediting work in.
- I got an exit row on the flight, plus there’s nobody in the middle seat, so I don’t feel cramped and can stretch out and work.
- For that matter, I have a fantastically wonderful laptop that has great battery life and is light so lugging it around airports isn’t awful.
- I didn’t have anything major scheduled today. I lost a workout with my trainer, which was pre-paid, but another couple was trying to get home for her mother’s 90th birthday….
- Ken will pick me up at the airport, and there will be smooching; and then we’ll have dinner at our go-to Thai place on the way home; and then there will probably be more smooching.
When life hands you Cleveland, make lemonade. Or something like that.
I’m writing this one the plane, so you’ll read this after I’ve returned home. Right now, though, I just realized I have a short story due tomorrow that I forgot about until right now. I’ve started it, and I had to turn in a proposal for it, so I mostly know how it’s going to go. But I’ve got to write it now. Right fucking now.
Which, I suppose, means I’m also grateful for all those Oregon Writers Network workshops that taught me I can write a kickass story overnight…!
*Because it was weather related, they don’t have to do anything. So yeah, I had to pay for a hotel and meals, as well as eat the cost of a booked training session at home. Thanks, United. Never again.