Over the past couple of years like everyone, I have faced my fair share. This particular event occurred on my most recent US holiday in the summer of 2012.
Track back a little over nine months and I stood on the verge of my first ever overseas holiday Having overcome blindness, DKA and near death I arrived in Kansas City to be greeted by the kindest and most incredible folk I could ever hope to meet, many of whom had travelled vast distances. It was a rare chance for mutual online friends to catch up in real life and to use an Australian colloquialism, “chew the fat”.
One such person resides in Mid Western America and having returned home, I resolved to drop by on my next visit. Booking well in advance I arranged my single spare weekend to fly out to Indianapolis and touch base. When the day finally came, like all responsible travelers I arrived at the airport hours in advance. A foreign airport in a foreign country en route to a city I had never visited….
So far so good. It’s perfectly normal to fly vast distances to meet strangers after all, right?
Arriving at the crowded departure gate I took up the only available seat and contemplated the journey ahead. As I waited I struck up a conversation with a Belgian business man also en route to Indianapolis to close out a deal.
With an initial delay to the flight we headed off to eat some early dinner both anxious to arrive at our planned destination. It was then that one of those curve balls came “flying” by. (Pardon the pun).
Returning to the gate we found our delayed flight further delayed and as storms rolled across New York, we looked on as more and more flights on the departure board were cancelled. As the early afternoon became mid to late evening and it became apparent our still scheduled flight was not going to leave we scrambled for an alternate flight out.
Taking our illegitimate place in the “Sky Miles” premium customer queue, we struck up conversation with a native Hoosier (person from Indianapolis) who was keen to return home from a European business trip. After a long wait in line we were told that Sunday would be our earliest chance to get a new flight.
With my return flight scheduled for Sunday I quickly saw my dreams fading in front of my eyes.
With a friend waiting to pick him up in Indy he managed to secure a seat on a flight to Ohio and somehow convince the attendant to provide seats for both myself and the Indy local. At this point I was just about open to anything, so at nearly midnight I boarded an unscheduled flight to a strange city in the company of another international visitor, not knowing what lay ahead.
A little over two hours later we arrived at Columbus International airport in Ohio to be greeted by the Belgians friend in his brand new VW.
So there I was, road-tripping hundreds of miles across state lines in the company of complete strangers to Indianapolis.
A little after 4AM local time I arrived at a gas station in deserted Indiana and bid farewell to my foreign friends and waited. Following a series of early morning calls my friend Mike began his journey across state to pick me up.
So what is the moral of this long and drawn out tale….
That sometimes life’s curve balls provide opportunities to achieve things beyond our wildest dreams. In wandering down strange and unexplored passages, we can uncover friends and experiences that last a life time.
It was only one weekend. It was only one flight and it was only a chance happening but I shall forever remember that weekend and the hospitality shown to me by Mike and his wonderful wife
Friends for life are worth traveling for. They are worth hurting for and they are worth sacrificing for. They have helped me through some of my greatest challenges and shaped the person that I am today. Though distance, time and place separate many of us thank you to all of my friends for being the amazing people that you are...