Delta delayed their flight “indefinitely,” and when the couple decided to drive back home to Cincinnati and try again today, they were told they wouldn’t receive a refund or a transfer.
“We worked it out, but it was a nightmare,” he says. “I sat on the phone for an hour. The hold music was just so irritating. Nobody apologized for anything. They didn’t like that we’re from Mumbai.”
How ridiculous, I think to myself. A woman should be able to attend her brother’s funeral without hassle. Her husband must be thinking the same thing; he’s shaking his head frowningly, arms crossed.
“Well,” I say, encouragingly. “Here’s to a smooth flight today.”
“And to you, too, dear,” she says. “Just make sure you don’t fly Delta.”
I’m lucky when it comes to travel. The airplane gods must like me, because my flights are never delayed. Once, my bags were lost on the way back from a business trip, and the only thing truly bad about that was when a male coworker—whose bags had also been lost—offered to pick up my bag for me then promptly went through all my stuff.
But listen: Luck can make you weary. You start to wonder what bad news is lurking. So you start hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Lately I can’t shake the feeling my hot streak is about to end.
Well, you can see where this is going. I end up missing my flight. It’s a long story, but it has something to do with me reaching the security check point, opening my wallet, and discovering my driver’s license is missing. After a series of frenetic calls to GB, he finds the license, piles the boys in the car, and they all come to my rescue. Within 45 minutes, I’ve booked the next flight to Philadelphia and resolved to find a decent way to kill the next 2 hours.
Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the book I’m reading, so I find the airport bookstore and browse with low expectations. Most of the selections are crap. Beach reads. Chick lit. Badly written murder and intrigue. I’m about to give up when I spot Lit by Mary Karr.
I have no idea what it’s about. But Mary is a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. She has won the Pushcart Prize, and she’s the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University. That’s a nice little pedigree, so I drop $15.00 on the counter and the book is mine.
I promise, this story has a point. And I promise I’m getting to it.
Usually, I don’t put much stock in the idea of fate. I really don’t. I like to think we get to where we are because of the choices we make, or the rational ways we react to the things we can’t control. Lately, I’ve given a lot of thought to throwing this blog in the water, watching it sink, and pretending it never existed. I don’t know why that is, exactly, although I’m sure it has to do with the voice in the back of my head telling me my perspective isn’t compelling. I’m not taking it far enough. Or it’s too hard to put this much of myself on a page and then read it back.
That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for cosmic signs—brief, unexplained zooms of encouragement—to help keep my motivation afloat.
Twenty pages into Lit, I’m hooked. Mary’s a jaw-droppingly great writer. Talk about putting yourself on a page—her story is a frank, unapologetic recount of her experiences. She’s as luminous as she is gritty. She’s beautifully flawed. But her writing is absolutely perfect. From every single angle.
And I think that’s because, as much as she doubts her writing, she believes in it, too.
So I’m thinking: If we’re driven to do something, then we really just need to do it. Even if that means clawing at something raw, announcing our imperfections and embarrassing ourselves in a very public way. Even if that means sticking with it until we fail miserably. Because that’s so much better than not trying at all.
For me, I guess that means I’ll keep chipping away at this project, just to see what happens in the end.
If I hadn’t forgotten my August book club selection, if I hadn’t missed my flight, if I hadn’t wandered into this book store, maybe I never would have found Mary. Two points, then, for fate. One point for me recognizing it.
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