19 January, 2010

"Send me your itinerary, just in case..."

Today's post was going to be a meditation on belonging - on that sense i used to have of having something, and yet nothing, in common with the internationals in my residence hall. But anyone who travels knows that things don't always go according to schedule. "The art of travel," says a character in that aptly titled film, "is to deviate from the current plan." (Too bad it was such a lame film.)

Instead, today's post will be about a split second of rude, unexpected shock.

The farewell gathering i'd planned yesterday turned out to be small, thanks to the snow. Of the six of us, i was the only one who's never left North America. And listening to everyone's stories, i began to wish i'd allocated more time for travel after the semester abroad. So many places to visit near Turkiye, and cheap enough to do once you're there. But - i prudently told myself - i'm not changing the ticket now.

Around 2 this afternoon, i opened an email from Emin, a friend in Ankara. "Send me your itinerary, just in case," he wrote. Cut, paste. Wait. I caught my breath. January 19? That's today. I bought a ticket for today? I looked at the clock, out the window, read the itinerary again. 4:30 PM January 19. It's 2 PM already. Boston is a five-hour drive away, and it's snowing. A few choice words came to mind. 19. January 19? $#@&!

It took more than one deep breath to master the moment. To get past the thought i am so screwed, the feeling of being completely at a loss. Better get used to it. It took a bit longer to get past the feeling of utter incompetence. And they're going to give this guy a degree? The Tuesday flight, or the Thursday flight: same airline, same time, same price. The truth is, it's pretty easy to click the wrong button. And when you believe you've hit the right one, sometimes you read the date and it doesn't even register.

Two hours later, i'd have been unable to change the ticket. Aside from the jarring moment, it was a chance to practice serenity - to accept the things i can't change, and change the one thing i could - my ticket. So while i was at it…i tagged another two weeks onto the return end as well. Sometimes life makes you take the opportunities you had written off as too expensive. And i have a feeling this won't be the last learning experience tagged "stupid travel mistakes".