The worst thing about a vacation is having to come home. I recognize that this isn't a particularly original thought, but most essential truths turn out to not be original, for example, Love Hurts, No shoes, no shirt, no service, gravity is a rule, not a guideline. All true, all cliche, all painful if you find yourself on the wrong side of them (especially that gravity one, trust me on this as someone who falls down a lot).So I don't know why the hell I was so cheerful and optimistic when I stepped on the plane departing from San Juan heading back towards Struggledelphia. After all this time, you'd really think I would have learned that struggle dogs my every move, wouldn't you? Alas, my friends, just like the possibility of me tripping over a loud Puerto Rican family's luggage, the eventual epic failure was inevitable.
The trick with an epic failure is the build up. You can't fall from grace until you actually all up on top of grace, you know what I mean? In order for the fall, you have to have the pride goething, or it's not hubris, it's just ho hum. So as I was gently tucked into my soft, plush, fully reclinable first class seat (thank you, US Airways upgrades, you truly are amazing!), and plied with wine and warmed cookies and moist hot towels (I don't know why they do this, but I LOVE it. I want this service as part of my every day life. Note to self, marry rich...), I hummed gently with pleasure and curled up with Gogol's Dead Souls to enjoy myself. In the three and a half hours that it takes a plane to leave the Luis Munoz Memorial Airport and arrive in Philadelphia I had covered two hundred or so pages of the book, enjoyed two enormous glasses of cheap white wine, and stolen the majority of my mother's cookie. In short, I was really enjoying myself. And that's when tragedy struck.
Just as we were circling the landing strip, our valiant captain informed us that there was a storm directly over the airport. He also mentioned that the storm had come unannounced, which surprised me, as most storms send me a short email at least an hour before their arrival, but I went with it. He then mentioned that the plane didn't have enough fuel to continue circling the airport. This, frankly, terrified me. What the hell, enough fuel? What would he have done if we had been delayed in the air on the way? How was there no contingency plan? Come on, people, it's a giant metal object hurtling through the air, it's not going to propel itself! But instead of a fiery death in a heap of wreckage, instead we got the next worse thing. That's right, they decided to land us in Atlantic City.
I can't tell you anything meaningful about the Atlantic City airport because I wasn't permitted to enter it. Instead we sat on the plane for 2 hours (with nary an offer of more wine in sight) waiting for weather conditions to improve. Well, most of us did. A full 11 people actually opted to leave their baggage behind and get out in Atlantic City. I honestly didn't know you could really do that, treat a plane like a local bus line, but, hey, what do I know?
When we finally landed in Philadelphia, having been delayed for a full 3 and a half hours (for those of you playing along at home that is the exact amount of time it takes to get from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, so it was double or nothing that night, apparently), my poor little family and I found ourselves waiting patiently at the baggage claim, dodging other passengers in their gladiator like attempts to wrestle with their luggage. Out came piece after piece after piece, but no bags marked Familia Struggle did we see. An hour later, my mother finally gave up and went to the US Airways baggage center, where they told us that our luggage was patiently waiting for us at a completely different terminal. Sure. Of course. That makes perfect sense that our bags would be seperated from those for the rest of our flight and we would need to hike through a universe of car rental stops and concrete Escher-wannabes to find it.. And there they were, waiting patiently for us to find them, and finally, FINALLY, go home.
Upside to all this? I couldn't even remember my vacation to be nostalgic and sad about it. It all felt so far away...
Leah Franqui is a fairly interesting person/director/writer/reader/eater/drinker. She likes ugly dogs and dislikes her hair in the morning. She's a sucker for environmental causes and plays hardball with deals on chewing gum. She is a struggle.