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Roman Holiday, 1

April 18, 2010

I’m trying to be positive. After all, there are undoubtedly countless others who would give anything to be in my position–trapped in that little tiny boot box that is Italy. It could be worse, right? This just means more time to enjoy a beautiful country. More time to slow our frenetic pace and actually relax just a little, instead of running frantically from one site to the next. More time to perhaps visit Tuscany, or find a vineyard in Orvieto for a wine-tasting.

It’s difficult, though. As I sit here in this 205 euro/night (that’s $276 USD, for those who may be wondering) hotel room that we are blessed to have through Friday night, I have to remind myself that it’s more than what some others have. The lobby last night was filled with travelers propping each other up on its scattered couches. They had nowhere else to go. We have beds through  night, at least. That’s good.

That’s important.

It shouldn’t matter that this trip is costing me more than double what I had anticipated and accounted for. It shouldn’t matter that I’m tired of being away from my husband, and my children. It shouldn’t matter that I’m out of clean clothes and underwear, and will have to figure out a means to do laundry tomorrow morning. It shouldn’t matter that I feel like I am in limbo, just waiting endlessly for something to change, for someone to tell me I can go home. I have the safety of four walls, and food to eat, and even Internet (albeit costly Internet…). None of these other things should stress me.

And yet it’s difficult to keep the bad thoughts at bay. What if the flight they’ve rescheduled us on for Saturday falls through? What if Autumn is upset that I’m not there on Saturday for her States competition? What if this damn volcano doesn’t stop spewing?

This is the worst blow to airline stock since 9/11 grounded flights ten years ago. In terms of flights grounded and airspace closed, it’s even worse. Hundreds of thousands of travelers have been affected, and we’re just a few of them.

We spent today between the airport and the hotel room, regrouping. We achieved a tentative rescheduled flight for Saturday the 24th and were told that there were no other options, which honestly almost brought me to bawling right there at the British Airways check-in counter. Another week of not seeing my kids, my husband…it sucks. It makes me feel guilty, even though intellectually I know this is beyond my control. We checked and re-checked departure updates, shaking our heads at all of the “cancellato” flights. The board was lit with red letters. We eyed the lines for various airlines other than British Airways and calculated our chances of actually finding an alternate way to the U.S. (slim to none, according to a pilot for the UAE).

After learning how delayed we were actually going to be, we searched the Internet, and made phone calls, and finally Dave flat-out begged the front desk to extend our reservation from Tuesday night to Friday night. We rested, snacking on the fruit and free Cokes (hallelujah) that were laid out for us in the Executive Floor Club Room. We connected with other travelers in the same place as us, trading miseries and potential plans and any information that we could lay our hands on.

It’s an interesting phenomenon how an event such as this brings out the best and the worst in people. We first saw the potential for disaster in the train terminals, especially upon returning from Naples. Lines were jammed up, people cutting in to try to get tickets before they were unavailable, frustration palpable in the air and ratcheting upwards steadily. There were feet trodden upon without a “scusi,” and elbows carelessly thrown in haste to get from point A to point B–and get there first.  A day later, though, there’s a slightly different feel in the air. There’s still tension in the drawn lines of people’s faces, still frustration and slightly desperate attempts to get somewhere, anywhere, but there’s also conversation, and even laughter. There are shared grimaces and collaboration as people settle in to wait this out as comfortably and safely as possible.

We are strangers and yet indubitably we know each other, allied as we are by shared experience. Our wants have been whittled into needs: shelter, food, safety. Home.

The rest doesn’t signify.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 2:59 pm

    Oh honey I so feel for you and I totally get your point. Yes it is nice to be away from the family for some ‘me’ time, it helps to ‘regenerate’ those old batteries so to speak. But then there does come a time when you start missing every little thing that prior made you cringe. I’ll say a pray that hopefully the planes will start flying again soon. Until then, enjoy the sites, and especially the wine tasting. Though at some wine tastings, they have you spit out the sip after you have it ‘roll around your palate’. I always found that funny ;o)

  2. April 18, 2010 4:14 pm

    Holy cow, Lori. I am sorry. So, so, sorry.
    There’s really no place like home is there? No matter how fascinating or beautiful, there is still just that special something missing that makes home- home.
    I hope you are able to enjoy yourself these extra few days and that they fly by so home is closer than you think!

  3. April 18, 2010 4:23 pm

    Okay, now this sounds terrible. I am so sorry that you are ‘trapped’ in Italy and might be there for another week; however, this could also be an opportunity to go out and take in some amazing sights and fill that card up on your camera with incredible photos.

    Stock up on the goodness there is and take some time to find that chocolate you never knew existed, but then never be able to live without again.

    Then fill your suitcase with it.

  4. April 18, 2010 4:41 pm

    I wondered if you were home yet, Lori. If you had come back before this happened. I wish you all the best in being able to get back to your family sooner than later – and safely. I can not even begin to imagine the frustration you must be experiencing. Best of luck to you – I’ll pray that everything works out in your favor.

  5. Anaise permalink
    April 19, 2010 8:39 am

    Oh, get home safely and soon! I believe you when you say you miss your family and you feel stuck in spite of the good stuff around you. Get home safely and soon!

  6. April 19, 2010 8:42 am

    Oh Lori I hear ya. I was delayed ONE DAY trying to come home from vacation and I was a wreck. It’s the kids, it’s your spouse. If they were with you that would be one thing but to be seperated and not able to get to them……..that’s harsh! I hope you are able to relax and ‘enjoy’ these extra few days. My heart goes out to you and to your family. Quick and safe returns!

  7. Lori permalink*
    April 19, 2010 12:45 pm

    Bonnie–that’s it exactly. Thanks for the prayers, and hopefully we’ll find a tasting that lets us swallow…although I guess then we wouldn’t be able to say we didn’t imbibe? 😉

    Natalie–it’s been great to at least have access now to the Internet and the phone–I spoke to the kids for the first time yesterday in close to a week and a half and it just about broke me. There is no place like home.

    Jason–I’m definitely trying to enjoy myself, don’t worry…I even tried to take pictures at the laundromat but I’d left the CF card back at the hotel. We’re visiting Trastevere tomorrow, which is the one part of Rome we hadn’t been able to explore previously. I’m trying to be a “bright side” person; it’s just hard when everything is so up in the air and you’re not really sure if they’ll get you back on Sat as planned. Fingers crossed.

    Gerb–I appreciate those little prayers winged my way.

    Anaise–thanks for that understanding…I feel a little guilty feeling sorry for myself, but you mothers understand, fortunately.

    Rachel–if my family was with me, we’d be having a party, no question. We’d be reveling in the extra time, and wouldn’t even worry about the cost, because we’d be together. I’m working on that relaxing part-it’s out of my hands, after all.

  8. April 20, 2010 9:50 am

    I’m so sorry!!!!! Prayers sent your way!

  9. April 21, 2010 9:37 am

    I sure hope that the flight comes through for you on Saturday! Enjoy the time that you have there..make the best of it. I won’t say that I’m not a tiny bit jealous but I can understand the frustration of not being able to get back home.

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