Some years ago I proclaimed from atop a mountain, “I will no longer fly anywhere during the winter months!” I explained to others the stress of travel even during the milder seasons was enough for me.
Winter skies had become yet another brutal dimension, always threatening to crystallize my flying anxieties. Aside from horrifying highway slides to the airport, I have experienced too many episodes of tarmac maintenance crews rolling out the de-icing equipment. If you’ve ever witnessed such a thing, it closely resembles a serious firefighting drama. Only it’s ice-fighting.
I grew weary of peering out the little oval window, making that William Shatner gremlin-spotting face. With every abominable weather event, my heart would drop further. And my language would get saltier.
So, after the last de-icing experience, I vowed I would skip that whole wintry travel scene.
“From now on!” I bellowed. It worked. For a while.
Then last year I allowed a family visit back east creep into early December. Because it was still technically fall. That rationalization worked out well on paper. But I remained agitated until I could see the extended forecast. Both travel days looked fine, which gave me a false sense of security.
It didn’t occur to me that while I was away my car would get iced over in KCI’s long term parking lot. And even though last winter here was relatively uneventful, I happened to park that one week we had a vortex-y car glazing event. A super thick one. I found myself chipping and chipping and chipping away at a windshield glacier around midnight in the lonely, creepy, frozen asphalt tundra.
“Never again!” I re-proclaimed. My winter air travel ban got even stricter.
Until four weeks ago. Somehow, something melted my heart. I had an overwhelming need to ring in the New Year with my dear parents. I held my breath and threw darts at the Southwest Airlines booking calendar.
I’ve never been good at darts.
I made it to the Atlantic coast without a glitch, if we don’t count the appalling soft serve ice cream incident at the connecting airport terminal (my “artisanal” sundae was “discreetly” reshaped by a germy hand). Or the hipsters who thought the back of my seat was a drum kit. Or the fact that once drummer boy calmed down after my killer glare, the flight attendant forgot my beverage. (The woman next to me, who ordered a vodka concoction, said my plain cranberry juice was “probably too boring to remember.”)
But I can survive contaminated ice cream and wanna-be airplane Ringos. And the sensation of being invisible in seat 20A. If the skies are clear, I let all peripheral aggravations slide.
What I can’t handle as well is a flight originally booked exactly in the middle of an explosive cyclogenesis. Bull’s-eye planning job, Denise.
I can’t quite provide the whole story arc this moment. Because this drama is frozen somewhere in the squishy space-time continuum of early newspaper deadlines and a bizarre winter event.
All I know at this point is my flight has been canceled. Blizzard-like conditions with some odd pressure drops are barreling up the Atlantic coast. I can predict with confidence I have an uncomfortable rebooked “adventure” ahead.
So I sit here, typing on my iPad before a crackling fire, waiting for this “bomb cyclone” thing. It’s cold outside, but I’m all cozy in my childhood home. My sweet parents are nearby. They’re both dozing in their fireside chairs. I see hints of grins on their faces that I suspect are related to my unexpected extended stay.
Maybe I’m good at throwing darts after all.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell