Months ago, I had to make a hard decision in choosing between two writers’ conferences I wanted to attend. As luck would have it, they were both scheduled for the same weekend.
One was in the Southwest, the other in Seattle. The Southwest conference was where many of my beloved writer friends would gather. The Seattle conference was one where I wouldn’t know anyone.
After much debate and agonizing, I decided to attend the one in Seattle because there were several workshops I really wanted to take.
Fast forward to last Thursday. I would fly out that afternoon to Seattle. Only, when I turned on my computer that morning, my newsfeed was full of info about a storm hitting Seattle over the weekend.
Not just any storm. Words like “storm of the century” and “tail of a typhoon” were bandied about, making this girl suck in a gulp of panic. What kind of crazy person leaves the safe, warm comfort of their home to fly into something like that? Would my flight be canceled? Should I just stay home?
Captain Cavedweller convinced me all would be fine and I should still go.
So I did.
It should probably be stated at this point that I hate to fly. It combines several elements of things that I don’t do well with: confined spaces, heights, and motion sickness.
Due to the weather in Seattle, our plane was delayed from taking off. With each minute of the delay, I think my anxiety went up another notch.
Finally, we boarded the plane and took off. From my seat near the wing, the lights outside the plane gave me a great view of the blinding rain coming at us sideways while wind buffeted us from every side. About half way through the trip, a gust sucked the plane about 30 degrees upward to the left, to the point passengers were scrambling for a handhold to keep from falling onto their seatmates. (And if you don’t think it was bad, they didn’t even allow the airline hostesses to get out of their seats the whole trip.) In between my prayers, I contemplated how my friends in the Southwest were doing… where there was no chance of typhoons.
The disturbing turbulence continued the rest of the way to Seattle and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we touched down on the runway.
A hired a town car service rather than take a shuttle or cab (the shuttle made about twenty stops before it would have reached my hotel and the town car was cheaper than the taxi!). It was nice to walk into the baggage claim area and find a man dressed in a nice suit waiting for me, holding a sign with my name on it. He took charge of my suitcase and led me out to a big, black SUV that made me feel like I was part of some gangsta movie. (Yeah, it was kind of cool.)
As the rain continued to pour down with blinding force, it made me glad I was not driving the twenty-odd miles to the hotel where the conference would take place and that we were in the big SUV.
I reached the hotel much later than planned, checked into my room and went to bed.
The next morning, I spent five minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the shower. The piping looked like some middle school science project gone awry with two hoses: one going to a hand-held shower wand, and the other to a big showerhead. After turning every knob that moved, I finally got the shower wand to work. (Not the best way to start the day, but better than no shower… and yes, I could have called the front desk, but I didn’t want to be THAT insane guest who couldn’t figure out how to make the shower work.).
Since I’d missed dinner due to the flight delay the night before, I splurged and ordered room service. $40 (with tip) for cold toast, rubbery eggs and really good bacon (still haven’t quite recovered from that sticker shock!).
From there, though, I forgot about turbulence and rain and stupid showers and exorbitantly priced breakfasts. I went to my first workshop, met the amazing woman assigned to be my “conference buddy,” and immersed myself into the role of student as I learned from some fascinating teachers.
Cocooned at the hotel’s conference center, I didn’t notice the wind or the rain creating havoc outside. People lost power in areas nearby. Waves crashed into buildings. Places flooded. But we were isolated from the heart of the storm.
Other than the stupid shower (which I mastered the second morning! Ha!), everything was so fun, interesting, and incredible.
I met so many generous, funny, kind, smart people. The classes I took were informative and thought-provoking. And I won a great prize in a raffle that I’m super excited about.
Despite how crazy it seemed to fly right into the storm, I’m so glad I went.
Sometimes, it’s in those stormy, scary places were we find just what we need to come out better on the other side.