Fitting, no? I mean- there is a literal reference to a tsunami...The "I'm so thankful..." post I was talking about up there .... here it is. In a much different form than I expected.
Early Thursday morning I arrived at the San Jose Airport ready to board my 6:30AM flight to LAX where I would meet up with Heather and we'd fly to Kona together. I stepped up to the check in counter and gave the employee my ID.
"Going going to Seattle?" she said.
"Nope- Kona." Silence.
Then, "Well, the doors to that flight have closed."
Heart sinks to stomach, "What????"
"Yep, it departs at 5:55."
I had somehow never gotten an email that informed me of the change in take-off time and had completely missed my flight. I wanted to throw up - or cry- or go home and crawl under my covers and hit the button on the time machine that would take me back to sleep 4 hours earlier. Ctrl-Z my morning, if you will.
"Mam? The only option I can offer you is a flight into Denver, then to LAX, and then to Kona. You'll arrive tonight at 8:30pm. Will that work?"
Wait, to Denver? Then to LA? It's too early for this. Oh, what have I done? I am going to be flying all damn day. "Yes, that will work."
I gulped down the lump in my throat, called Heather to tell her of my flight change, thankful of her for making sure we arrived with plenty of time for screw ups, and succumbed to the travel Gods. I would spend the next 16 hours either 30,000ft in the air or sitting in an airport. Woo hoo. I figured- it can't get worse than this! Boy was I wrong... What seemed like days later, I stepped off the plane in Kona to a warm breeze and mildly humid air and into Heathers rented car to these words, "So....while you were in the air there was a 8.9 earthquake in Japan and now there's a tsunami warning here." As tired as I was from my travel day adrenaline started pumping through my body, tsunami's are one of my worst fears. I am not an ocean girl- its' vastness has always caused me anxiety and the unknown of what lies beneath has never made it easy for me to swim freely. I hate boats and am not a huge fan of sand. The idea of gallons and gallons of water rushing onto the land, knocking down everything in it's path and swallowing me whole is one that has literally caused me sweaty nightmares and now I was in the middle of it.
Having no idea of the devastation that had occurred in Japan hours before, Heather and I headed back to the hotel, had a quick glass of wine, then followed the hotels instructions to pack up our things and high-tale it out of there.
PREPARE FOR THE WORST, PRAY FOR THE BEST.
We grabbed the pillows and comforters off of the hotel beds and tried to convince ourselves that it would be "just like camping!" We stocked up on water and granola bars, waited in line to fill up our gas tank, and found a nice spot in a neighborhood miles from the coast and settled in with many other groups of people doing the exact same thing. The hours ticked by- we cracked jokes to pass the time: "What happens to the zoo animals? What if Hawaii turned into Jumanji with lions just roaming the island?" The radio news continued to report on Hawaii's situation and Heather and I drifted off into restless slumber.
We awoke in the morning, watched the sunrise, and found it safe to return to our hotel. We learned that there been minimal damage throughout the night: our beach was gone and there were lounge chairs and tree debris scattered all over but the structure was safe and sound. We retired to our hotel room to catch up on some sleep. We were awoken a few hours later and learned that the wedding we were there to photograph was no longer going to take place because there was too much damage done to the Four Seasons property. Both Heather and I were in complete shock and were both just devastated for the bride. We just couldn't believe what a mess this trip had become. Because the local media had been so focused on Hawaii we were absolutely shocked when we turned the TV on and saw the true damage and horror that had wreaked havoc across Japan. We were both wiping away tears as it became very clear that my missed flight, our fear-induced adrenaline rush, sleepless night in the back of a warm car, hotel damage, and even the wedding post-postponement was absolutely nothing compared to what we were seeing. We decided pretty quickly that we were going to cut our trip short and get on the next plane home.
So yes, this is an "I'm so thankful..." post. But I didn't know I'd be thankful for so much more than my career, or my clients, or my family and friends. I am thankful for that sleepless night, that warm jeep with that comfy hotel bedding, the ritz crackers we picked up at the gas station, and for having to face my fear of a tsunami and coming out 100% unharmed. I know that so many in Japan did not live to see the following day. I know that so many did survive; only to find that the sunrise brought a terror they could never have imagined possible. I know that my troubles and stresses are nothing compared to what the Japanese are facing. I'm so thankful to be safe and sound, in my little office, running my little business.
A little perspective can go a long way. I was periodically posting photos to my tumblr if you are interested check it out here. If you can help Japan- help. If you are a blogger, some friends in the industry are having a day of silence and are taking donations.
Donate directly here: Shelter Box
Read about it here: For Japan with Love