The reality is starting to sink in. In an amazing way.
In less than one week I will be heading out on an adventure that I have been prepping for over the last 6 months, and committed to in the last 4 months.
I have had polka-dotted moments of emotions, but over-all a sense of calm regarding the trip. But the wind is shifting and the moments of emotions are gaining endurance.
Last week I was busy scratching off to-do lists, making new ones, putting on crampons and gaters over my Sperry top-sliders at work, and sorting my calendar to organize all the errands and car trips in the most efficient way possible. I visited Best Buy for the first time in years and bought the accessories for my Go Pro: 64MB memory card and an extra battery. I am looking forward to playing with my new gadget on the long plane flight. I will be happy to have something to play with and figure out the ins and outs. Speaking of plane flights……
So my flight got cancelled. Oh yes, this happened. Cover your mouth, you may scream:
I was trying to call China Eastern’s LA office in good-ole Pasadena all last week to select my seats for my return segment that had been rescheduled due to an earlier cancellation. I called on 3 separate occasions on 3 separate days with long holding times that never ended with a live person. Friday at 4:00pm my “holding” phone call got answered! YES!
Paperwork put aside for <10 minutes. “I am calling to select my seat for a segment of my flight rescheduled by the airline”
“May I have your ticket number” I report my ticket number. “Your flight has been cancelled” ……My chest, neck, and face start feeling warm. My left arm reaches overhead and my hand rests on the crown of my head. “Excuse me? What portion of my flight has been cancelled?”
“Our airline has discontinued service to/from Kathmandu until November 13th, can I rebook you for a November 13th arrival?”
“Ummm, no…..no that will not work for me…..Are you helping your passengers rebook on other airlines”
“No, I can book you on a November 13th flight”
“No, I need to be there on October 20th. I called today to select my seat for a segment of a flight, and you are telling me all segments are cancelled? When was it cancelled AND when was I going to be notified by the airline that my flight was cancelled?”
“The cancellation happened today and you would have been notified in the next week”
“I am leaving next week.”
Needless to say my head was spinning. I was at work. I needed to attend to this flight situation immediately. I needed to. Or else I would have felt doom and questioned if this trip was really meant to be. Not an option in this go-getter, optimistic mind. I politely asked how to receive a refund for my entire airfare; the agent indicated to do it online and gave me my order number. I packed up my work “stuff”, closed down my computer, filed my charts, and skedaddled out of work on a bee-line to my apartment.
“Where are you going?” Inquired my coworkers. “I gotta go, my flight to Kathmandu just got cancelled!!!” “WHHATT?!?!?!?”
On my short walk home I called my Dad 3+ times without an answer, called my international traveling friend Maxine, and yelped “travel agent”…before opening my apartment door, turning the fan on my face, and opening my laptop. Luckily I remembered the other airlines I considered when booking my original flight.
Less than 1 hour later I had secured a flight on Cathay Pacific with less stops, equivalent travel time, and a cheaper price. Yes the timetable isn’t ideal…but honestly….beggers can’t be choosers :) And..I have a flight. I….have….a……flight. Huge sigh of relief. My head is spinning. Gotta get refund, gotta get refund. At this point, my lovely easy-to-reach LA office of China Eastern is closed. I search the website for other local numbers to call; I call the assumed LAX office and am placed on hold and disconnected 5 minutes later. I call the “customer complaint” phone number and leave an awkward message on a voicemail that I’m sure will never be listened and responded to. AND then……I’m back calling China through a 1-800 number. An agent answers in Chinese, I greet in English. She asks me to talk slower. I say, “I am.” All in all, my local LA office has to refund my ticket, not the website as my lovely LA office told me to do. These people are not only easy to get a hold of, they also provide accurate information. Guess what, at this moment. I don’t care. I have a ticket :)
My head is pounding, I’m sweating in this California heat wave, and I have an hour and a half to change gears to social-Rebecca for Friday night celebrating a friend’s birthday. What do I do….lay down on my foam roll, open my arms, and breathe. Positive self-talk for handling the situation and not losing my mind. Then gulp about 32 oz. of water and continue to lay there and breathe. Let’s hope the next hiccup can be managed as quickly….’cus there is always another hiccup.
Really, that happened.
Saturday morning came quick as I headed back to Mt. Baldy with Mendy. Last hike in SoCal before heading to Nepal. Breaking in my new pack I bought the weekend before and still trying to coax my feet to like my hiking boots. Mendy likes Register Ridge; which is the shortest but steepest route to the top. So up we went, breathing hard and quickly drenching in sweat. With another 90+ degree anticipated at the beach, I was happy to escape to the mountains for reprieve. Compared to earlier in the summer the hike up required less standing rests to catch my breath or let my heart rate calm down. We got to the top energized and shocked at the warmth that still enveloped the top of the mountain. After my customary laying down on the job at the top of the mountain, eyes closed, relaxed and content, we snapped a picture: and started the decent via Ski Hut trail. Last time we hiked this route I didn’t have trekking poles and borrowed one of Mendy’s to limit the skidding and sliding down loose sand and rocks. This time I kept my poles in front and worked on staying low and wide. Mendy instructed me on how to better utilize the pole’s straps to support my body weight through the straps instead of my hand grip.
Silence enveloped me. No to-do lists to cross off, no errands to run, no trains of thought trailing off to other trains of thoughts. Silence. Me. One step in front of the other. My head started thinking through relationships with people in my life with thoughts of the trip darting in here and there. Then I’m starting to feel shaky…..starting to feel foggy, slowing down my cadence, being more careful with my foot placement. But not wanting to stop. Then…down I go. I tripped/mis-stepped…I don’t know. Ouch, I felt my knees give a little cry. And it was enough to get me feeling a sense of internal pain. Not physical pain…but emotional pain.
You know me, I am the steadfast one. I may mouth off a bit here and there, but I’m even keeled. I show a smile 24-7 and I’m easy to laugh and get excited. Negative emotions don’t sit around very long. And here I was, overwhelmed with a sense of sadness. I couldn’t express it, I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling or why. It was an emotion.
“Are you ok?” I said “yes”, but was covering tears with my sunglasses and hesitating to move forward on the trail. “Are you sure you are ok?” Water-works. The cringe of your face and the tears start to shed. A supportive hug and then more release of emotion. I don’t know what this is, I don’t know. I was shaking, I was not putting words together well, I was crying and trying to stop. I was a mess.
Took some breath, heard the calming words of a world traveler who had experienced emotions before his trip, and ate some sugar. I continued down the hike, first pretty slow and deliberate. I cried a little here and there. And then picking up pace, but still being a bit clumsy. Mental over-powering physical.
I still can’t pinpoint where this “storm” came out of. I identify I was a bit hypoglycemic, but did the physical pain, as minute as it was, allow the emotional pain to rush in? And what was that emotional pain? I was pretty quiet, just sitting in the feeling the majority of the car ride home. It was a feeling of sadness. I could only express an irrational insecurity of not being missed while I am gone, away from my day-to-day routine and not being noticed as missing from the space I share with friends, family, and coworkers. It is a very sad feeling. But why did it creep into me?
I have been receiving numerous letters every day in the mail from people who have brought and bring meaning into my life. There is an outpouring of support and daily people are asking about my trip and sharing in my excitement. So what was the root of this? This trip is “big” for me. It would be “big” for a lot of people…but it is not very “big” to others. The rush, rush, rush…managing my time while working full-time to prep with gear and prep with physical and mental workouts, dealing with the hiccups that land on my ears, and continuing to push…I think it just finally pushed back.
I am happy to feel these emotions. But to be honest, the sadness that I experienced during that hike was like losing a family member or the end of a chapter of my life. And it hit me out of nowhere. A very meaningful conversation came from this and my heart ached for the rest of the evening, despite going to a curling game and winning. It was deeper set than that. I just don’t know at this point.
More of those moments to come in the near future I am sure :) And happy to feel them, experience them, and work through them. They will be what builds my energy and changes my being.
Following in daily fashion: Sunday! I woke up, pretty calm, rested, and low energy. I went to the pool to stretch out after the hike up Baldy. Then returned home to an inevitable to-do list. I sat down to organize my next few hours and was shocked at how short my to-do list was.
1) Return hat and shirt at Dick’s Sporting Goods
2) Exchange duffle bag and buy locks and trek pole cages at REI (yes, this is the third exchange of duffle bags…they’ve been too small! AND I hadn’t been back to REI in an entire week thank-you-very-much!)
3) Home depot for batteries and to buy a light bulb.
This is it?! Can it be true? Wow…alright. So instead of plotting the shortest route to each location and keeping myself only looking at items on my to-do-list. I leisurely drove to the stores, smiled and shared an extra pleasantry with each cashier, and looked around the stores at what caught my eyes. Leisure errand running, if you will.
Then, the plans I’ve been waiting MONTHS for. Getting to spend the afternoon and evening with my Aunt and Uncle! It has been so long since the three of us spent time together. Between my hiking and weekend travels and their around the world excursions to be with family and friends, it has been far too long. I was all smiles from the moment I set out on the-405 for their home and long after I returned home late last night. Their home feels like my home. It was my home for a short while, when studying for my PT boards after grad school. And to be back under their roof and with their arms around me; I felt loved, supported, and nurtured.
Coincidentally my Uncle is setting out on a hiking adventure two days before I leave for mine. I can’t wait to get back to share stories, pictures, and hear and provide gear feedback.
I finished my weekend out with submitting my travel visa application via the Nepal immigration website.
What is left to do:
- photo booth for extra passport size pictures
- update ipod shuffle with tunes worthy of this adventure, clear my iphone of all current pictures
- pack pillow case and trash bags
- Awaiting Burke-Khang Snow Jacket expected to arrive Wednesday, teammates have been sharing their positive feedback with each other via email re: the Lukla brand jacket
- Pick up Go-Pro and 3-in-1 tripod, selfie stick and hand holder Thursday from coworker
- Get cash for the trip
- Receive shipment from Amazon for solar charger and battery pack
- Eat, sleep
- Visit with friends before departure
- Get snowboarding gear together (Mammoth opens November 11th, the day I hope to land back in the states….we all know what that means!)
Life is beautiful!