With yet another flight cancelled because of the tornado, my husband and I go back in line, thankfully a little rested and only for a little less than an hour.
It’s now morning on Sunday 27 December, around 7am Central Time; we have only a couple of hours to go before the wedding of our dear friends is set to begin. We still have hope that we can make it (we are either very hopeful or slightly deluded, not sure…)
By the time we get to the counter to talk to an American Airlines ticketing agent, all flights to San Francisco are completely booked until Wednesday 30 December—and unfortunately this time, even after a good ten minutes of searching, no magical tickets suddenly appeared. The stand-by list was still 150 people strong. So much for landing as originally planned on Saturday 26 December at 7pm! Could we still make it the wedding starting at 5:30pm Pacific Time?
We really didn’t want to stay in Dallas until Wednesday, and we really want to try to make it, somehow, to the wedding; when told that there are no flights to San Francisco until Wednesday, we asked about flights to cities near there. The only city that had flights that same day still open was Sacramento, a two-hour drive to San Francisco.
Might as well, no?
The agent—who by then was laughing with or at us as we might have been slightly delirious—finds us seats on a flight to Sacramento at 3pm that afternoon (it’s around 7am in Dallas) that would land in Sacramento at 5pm local time—which means that we could make it to the wedding at 7pm in our travel clothes (gotta do whatcha gotta do, guys) pending a rental car was available and there is no traffic.
The agent (God bless her) also puts us on standby on two other flights to Sacramento: one at around 8am and the other at around 11am. There are already 50 people on standby, but you know what, we decided that we might as well try. What if, after all the insanity, we could get on that 8am flight, drive to San Francisco, get our suitcases, find a fast-food place to change in (even we weren’t too optimistic about finding a shower), and go to the wedding?
Hope is a beautiful thing, guys.
So we grab our six tickets—one for each stand-by flight and one for the actual flight—and head over to the gate for the 8am flight. Things start to look really good when about 25 people on standby make it on the plane. The first flight leaves, my husband and I get in line to sign up for the standby list for the 11am flight and make it on the list at numbers 9 and 10.
This is where we realised that maybe, just maybe, we might make it to the wedding.
(It also helped that we had had breakfast.)
We make our way to the gate of the second flight to Sacramento we were on stand-by for. We are getting a little antsy; along with a few of our fellow passengers from the original flight, we watch passengers file into the plane. Then they start calling out stand-by passengers.
The first three go in, excited.
The fourth one isn’t there.
Almost halfway to numbers 9 and 10, i.e. my husband and I. We quickly go online and book a rental car at the Sacramento airport. We email our family and friends in Sacramento to ask them that, should we make it on the flight but are too tired to drive to San Francisco, could we stay with one of them that night.
The fifth and sixth one go on-board, the husband almost crying with relief.
More than halfway there.
Another party of two, numbers seven and eight, are called.
I think I might have stopped breathing for a couple of seconds.
Then I’m called!
But wait. I’m a party of two. Why is my husband not included in my party of two?
We go to the counter—I tell the agent that I’m one of two. She asks us to step to the side…
…I really wanted to refuse and tell her to deal with our situation now, but I’m polite…
…and she calls another two passengers.
Are we going to miss the flight? Should we cancel our rental car reservation?
The agent turns to me. I smile at her and tell her that I kind of like this guy I married and that’s why we are a party of two. She smiled, plugged in something in the computer, gives us tickets, and wishes us a happy flight.
WE MADE IT, DESPITE THE TORNADO.
It was a little surreal to board. Was this actually happening? Or was it just a delusion born out of desperation and exhaustion?
We get on the plane and realise we have separate seats. We sit down; seeing how my husband has an aisle seat and the guy beside me is a really tall man looking supremely uncomfortable, we ask him if he wants to switch. He is delighted to have an aisle seat; my husband and I collapse in our seats, exchange a silent look of relief and disbelief.
I don’t remember much from that flight, other than this amazing shot my husband took. We land in Sacramento and go check the status of our luggage: it’s still in Dallas and will make it to San Francisco at “a later time”. I check my emails; our family and friends have of course said yes to us staying that evening should we need it, God bless them. Our aunt and uncle have even offered to lend us their car so that we can drive to San Francisco.
We were so tired at that point that we didn’t know what to do. If we left right then and there, we would make it to the wedding; but was it safe to drive?
Probably sensing our exhaustion, our aunt and uncle come to pick us. They take us home and send us straight to the shower—the guest shower for me, the main one for my husband. They give us toothbrushes, towels, toothpaste, some hair product, and, 30 minutes later, we feel up for the drive. They pack us food, print us directions, give us keys to the car, take us to Target (where we pick up a nice sweater for me to cover my travel shirt, basic makeup, and a white shirt and black tie for my husband to replace his shirt and hoodie) and off we go!
We are in a car, driving from Sacramento to San Francisco!
Pending no traffic, we are going to make it to the wedding!
The sun is shining, the weather is great, we are keeping each other company and shaking our heads at our current situation.
All is going well…
Until we get caught in traffic.
Thankfully, traffic eases within minutes, and off we go again!
Until we hit traffic again.
And then there is no traffic again, this time after 15 minutes—not bad!
But—you guessed it—after a few minutes of fast driving, we hit traffic again.
Etc. ad nauseum.
The wedding is set to start at 5:30pm; we drive into San Francisco at 6pm and, by the time we park the car and change, it’s 6:30pm. Not too bad!
We step into the venue and guys… It was both embarrassing and funny because my husband is wearing jeans, white sneakers, a white shirt, and a black tie, and I am wearing black boots, black pants, a white cotton T-shirt, and a black knit sweater… Very nice outfits, but very grubby compared to the other well-dressed guests…
But then it happened. We were pounced on by our friends. They were so happy that we had made it that it’s like they didn’t even see our outfits. They handed us drinks and hors-d’oeuvres, worried that we were going to collapse from exhaustion. They brought us up to speed about the wedding ceremony (which we had missed) and guided us towards where the bride and groom was.
And so, although we were exhausted and felt a little gross (you do the math and figure out how long we had been in our clothes), the joy that permeates every wedding between two people who are perfect for each other warmed us and we spent the rest of the evening taking in the beauty that is love.