I just came back from the grocery store….
I made it a hurried trip, concentrating on all the things I had on my “to do” list for today.
I made sure to go down aisle 7 first, and I grabbed the six pack of Orange Crush while singing softly “Should all acquaintance be forgot….”
You know, the lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne”.
Well, maybe I wasn’t singing softly enough because the man with the Hawaiian shirt, long black socks and khaki walking shorts turned with a bottle of Tonic Water in his hand and smiled at me.
I smiled back as I placed my orange sodas in my basket, and hurried around the corner almost bumping into a lady with an overloaded cart.
Whew! That was a close one.
I apologized and kept humming this familiar and simple tune.
And I couldn’t stop smiling.
You see I was remembering.
Remembering a time many years ago when the Captain and I were first married.
Have you got a minute?
Let me tell you a story.
Being the romantic person that I am….and seeing as how it would be our first New Year’s Eve together as a married couple, I was looking forward to the stroke of midnight and being in the arms of my love, and lifting our glasses, toasting our future together as we began our new journey.
Only….I soon realized the inevitable.
The Captain would not always be home on Holidays!
His job as a Pilot flying corporate jets would keep him flying his worldly passengers to exotic places on Christmas and New Years ….. as those are some of the busiest days for his travelers.
I didn’t care!
I stood haughtily, with my fist in the air like Scarlett O’Hara and declared….
….I would fly to wherever my Captain was on New Year’s Eve and we would bring in the New Year together!!!
……that is, if Southwest Airlines flew there!
I didn’t want to overpay for a last minute round trip ticket. Romantic and Practical!
Are the words Romantic and Practical synonymous? Oh well!
So let us talk about the practical side of this scenario.
In the Captain’s profession, he doesn’t really know where he will end up on any given day. His schedule is subject to change at a moment’s notice. After all, people who can afford private corporate jets don’t always know when and where they want to travel. That, coupled with maintenance on aircraft, weather conditions, pilot and co-pilot work schedules and just any number of variables can change destinations at the last minute.
In fact, in the past, the Captain has had a schedule change or diversion from original destination, while he was actually on the taxi way and preparing for take off. So predicting an evening’s destination is really a toss of the dice.
But I was willing to do just that… in an effort to spend New Year’s Eve with my Man!
Back to my story.
The Captain had a “general” idea of where he might be going (or ending up), when he called me at about 11:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve Day .
He said …”I believe I will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama tonight for New Year’s Eve”.
I immediately called Southwest Airlines and found out that they do not fly to Tuscaloosa, but that they did fly into Birmingham, Alabama.
I grabbed a map and saw that Birmingham was about 50 miles from Tuscaloosa and I knew I could rent a car and drive over to Tuscaloosa to see my Honey on New Year’s Eve.
I had a plan.
The last flight out of Kansas City was about 3:15 p.m. and the Captain was not sure he would have a definite confirmation that Tuscaloosa would be his last stop for the day.
He said he wouldn’t know for sure until about 4ish or 5ish!
I could see that this was not going to be easy.
I was going to have to go by faith and my own instinct! (I am an adventurer-er… is that a word?…but you know me! I make words up as I go!) 🙂
The stars in my eyes and the love in my heart didn’t care.
I packed an overnight bag and sat it by the front door.
I called Southwest Airlines and booked a ticket! Luckily, I didn’t have to pay for the ticket up front and it was a reasonable amount. We lived about 10 minutes from the airport so I knew I could drive my car to an overnight parking garage and be at the boarding area in a matter of minutes.
Remember, this was a few years ago…long before all the restrictions of actually purchasing tickets and “being at the airport 2 hours early” days.
And then I waited.
I sat by the phone waiting for the Captain to call me, knowing that he would only be able to call between his scheduled flights for the day….which can sometimes number up to 5 legs (trips).
It was going to be close.
At almost 3 p.m….the Captain called and said he was reasonably sure he would spend the night at a hotel in Tuscaloosa! Not positive, double dog dare sure…but almost sure.
He then asked me the question that I didn’t want to hear….
“What if dispatch sends me somewhere else and you end up in Birmingham alone”?
Well, I was ready with my answer.
I told him I would take that chance!
Spending the night alone in a hotel in Birmingham would be about the same as spending the night alone in Kansas City at our home. I assured him I would be fine and that I would catch a flight home to KC on New Years Day… which was a part of the original plan anyway.
The plan went into action.
My plane landed in Birmingham and luckily the Captain had just landed in Tuscaloosa! He wasn’t “shut down” yet….meaning Dispatch had not said he was through for the night, but at least we were only 50 miles apart early on New Year’s Eve.
I rented a car and drove the 50 miles to Tuscaloosa, hoping he would still be there when I arrived.
On the way, the Captain called me on my cell and said Dispatch had finally “shut him down” and for me to drive directly to the Hotel.
When I drove up to the front entrance, my knight in shining armor was waiting to greet me.
I was so happy that we actually made it all happen at the last minute.
We went to dinner and then…
We needed a toasting drink when the clock struck midnight!
Technically, the Captain was still on duty as he would be flying passengers the next day, so any form of alcohol was out of the question.
We stopped at Walgreens (they are everywhere aren’t they?) and looked down the aisle of “drinks” and I spied an Orange Crush!
Our favorite soft drink at the time was Coca Cola….(now it is water or tea)….but we didn’t want something we usually chose to drink, we wanted something special!
We both agreed we had not sipped an Orange Crush in a long time! (I used the word “sip” because I didn’t want to conjugate a verb. My high school English teacher Mrs. Walker would not be happy) 🙂
As the countdown of the large, silver ball in Times Square began on the television a few minutes before midnight, The Captain and I took our plastic drinking cups from the hotel room and poured our bubbly, Orange Crush.
Ok, more fizzy than bubbly.
We toasted in the New Year with a traditional kiss and a promise to always have an Orange Crush to drink on New Year’s Eve, no matter where we were!
Our drink of choice is always going to be the “orange stuff!”
This year, the Captain is going to be able to be home on New Year’s Eve, which is why I was scurrying around the super market in search of Orange Crush Soda this morning.
No waiting around till the last minute for me…;)
Oh, and these days of being an old married couple, IF the Captain is flying on New Year’s Eve….I don’t always rush to his side… but instead we make sure we both have an Orange Crush in our hands and we wish each other a Happy New Year over our cell phones, no matter where we are.