What an amazing, crazy, emotional, stressful, amazing last few hours it has been. I have finally arrived in Europe! My check-in bag is probably in Chicago and I’m exhausted from our trip. What was supposed to take twelve hours slowly turned into twenty-four. Yeah. I’m not exaggerating for once. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
You know it hasn’t felt real yet. I’ve been doing the same thing, the same routine for all my life. Not that it was boring, but it was comfortable, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I dreamed about it, but that was all. Then it finally hit me on Sunday. The whole day I had been fine. Belmont prayed me out and I said goodbye to my friends. I cried a little bit but I held up pretty well for the most part. I ate lunch with my grandparents and said goodbye to them. But it still didn’t feel real. I still didn’t believe that I was actually doing it.
Then, as I was doing a Walmart run for last minute supplies, it hit me. I got what I needed and waited in line for forever, trying to hold it together. And then I drove to Lipscomb to see one of my best friends again, because even though I had said goodbye to her at church, I just couldn’t let go. So instead of finishing everything I had to do the day before, I spent an hour crying and talking on her couch. As we talked, I realized how much I was in my comfort zone and how much I needed to be relying on God instead of my family and friends.
It’s a good thing we had that conversation because I’ve really needed to keep that in mind. I've been put out of my comfort zone more in the past 24 hours than I've ever been. First, our flights were delayed and then switched to avoid the delay. That alone was slightly stressful, because instead of having 3 hours to finish packing and say goodbye, I was given less than an hour. My siblings and I were heartbroken at the jolting goodbye. I had wanted to play a game in the hours before I left, but that didn’t happen. My other grandparents were able to come down just in time to wave us off and (of course) snap a picture. And then I left without even saying goodbye to the dog.
When we got to the Nashville airport, we were told that whoever helped us switch the flights hadn’t connected us all the way to Vienna. Cue me trying not to panic. Then we got a flight to Chicago, where we were told that our flight to Vienna was overbooked by 17 people and they needed to serve the original passengers first. Great. Did I mention we were told this information after sitting at the airport waiting for nearly 3 hours eating crappy overpriced pizza because we couldn't go through security again? We went back to United and told them what happened, and they managed to get us a flight to Frankfurt. At least we knew we could get to Europe.
As the day progressed and my mother kept humming “Holiday Road,” I became less stressed and started to find the silver linings. My flight home in June goes through Frankfurt and Chicago. I was slightly nervous at navigating both these international airports for the first time by myself, but I figured by that point I would be a more adept traveler. Little did I know. Also, our international flight to Vienna was not going to be serving dinner or breakfast, and our flight to Frankfurt did both! I was too tired to eat the dinner last night, but I really enjoyed by croissants with Nutella this morning.
So even though I still don’t know how they overbook airlines and why they didn’t tell us this when we originally switched our flights, it has turned into a lesson of patience, flexibility, and reliance on the Lord. And I haven’t even started the DTS yet! But the one thing that I’m really, really grateful for is my mother. I am so glad that I didn’t have to go through this on my own. Our plans have changed slightly, but tomorrow we're hitting the streets of Vienna and I am so excited! Although, it is freezing (17 degrees Fareinheight is the forecasted high, I think.) and I packed my heavy-duty leggings in my checked bag. Oh well.
"You will have to do without a great many other things before we reach our journey's end"
--Gandalf, the Hobbit.