Four hours ago I was on a plane pulling away from gate A13 at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky airport, headed to DC before connecting to London. I had my new headphones on playing the perfect takeoff song (since small electronics are allowed during takeoff now, thanks Obama!). I was ready. I had said goodbye to my parents and Squirt at the airport, put my just-under-50 pounds bag on the scale, and made it through security.
And yet now I am in my childhood bedroom in Kentucky, lying on the sheets I had to fish out of the laundry bin because I was supposed to be halfway across the Atlantic now. And all I can think is “Well, at least nothing blew up,” because that is my new standard — buses run late, planes get delayed or have error messages right as the pilot begins to take off, forcing you to return to the gate and miss your international connection, but as long as no one gets hurt and nothing catches fire, it’s OK. Things could be worse.
I have adopted this mindset thanks to the events that went down nearly a week ago. I boarded a Megabus — what was once my favorite mode of transportation — to Chicago, where I was to have a splendid weekend with friends and a reunion with my former college roommates. While it was still a relatively splendid visit, what time I was not spending with friends I spent shopping for things like underwear and deodorant because I arrived in Chicago five hours late (after leaving on time) with nothing but the pug sweatshirt I was wearing. Because my bus caught on fire and all of our luggage was destroyed.
I’m still amazed by how calmly I — and everyone, really — handled the situation. Things could always be worse, but this was a pretty bad situation and I didn’t break down. I got on another bus to Chicago without really thinking about it. In the news footage I’m smiling brightly. Maybe it was because I had nothing else to lose.
(“Anyone want to put anything in the luggage compartment?” our new driver asked. We could only stare at her blankly then laugh.)
The long battle to replace my belongings and receive compensation from Megabus has begun, and I’m sure it will be a long battle, but I’m thankful that no one was hurt. I love my things — probably more than the average person likes a pair of pajama bottoms or an umbrella — but it’s only when you see giant flames shooting out of a bus that you were on just minutes ago that you can truly say things can be replaced, life is what’s important.
Maybe there was a reason my plane had an error taking off this evening, maybe there wasn’t. I can only hope I can get to London safely tomorrow. A delay I can handle, but I think I’ve reached my limit on losing precious belongings this month. I’m not superstitious, but if I have one more traveling problem it’ll be hard not to think I’m wearing my unlucky travel pants or I somehow upset some karmic balance.
2014 can only get better.