The pain-in-the-butt trip that was totally, completely worth it
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To my happiness, many of my dear friends have decided to get married over the last few years. Many of these people are strong, smart, and independent creatives who have been with the same partners for awhile but reached a point where they wanted to make it legal. It’s fun to go to a wedding, sure, but it’s so rewarding to see two intelligent, mature people who are deeply in love decide to tie the knot. (Jim and I were together nearly nine years before we got married—for awhile, we weren’t sure if we’d ever marry—in no way do I begrudge single folks or those who are in relationships with no intent to get hitched!)

After my own wedding in May 2015, I finally understood how meaningful it is for the bride and groom (or bride and bride, or groom and groom) to look around and see loved ones at their ceremony. Before then, I didn’t truly get how important my presence would be at certain friends’ and family members’ weddings, but now I get it. This is one of the reasons I made every effort I could to be at my friend SB’s wedding in California in October 2015.

Boy oh boy, did fate have another plan for me, though. From sudden, pressing issues at work to some personal priorities to take care of in our home life to ridiculous air fares and more, it was hard to get to California that weekend. To top things off, a certain airline I will never fly again (let’s just say their name can be a synonym for “ghost”) did something inconceivable: my flight left the gate several minutes early, stranding me and nineteen other passengers. There was no flight to L.A. the rest of that day, so I was stuck at the Atlanta Airport, over an hour from my home in Athens. My dad had driven me to the airport and was already almost back in Athens. They couldn’t guarantee I’d get out the next day, either. I had to think seriously about the weekend, especially in light of my ongoing health issues. Flying and travel are triggers for my migraine, and stress exacerbates everything. Would it be worth it to camp out in the airport overnight so that I could possibly fly to California the next day, only to stay for less than 48 hours before flying all the way back to the East Coast? A delayed flight also meant I’d miss my ride to the wedding—which, in turn, meant I’d have to rent a car with my own money. Oh, and my luggage was already en route on the plane that had abandoned me and the other waiting passengers.

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I stopped to reflect on how great it felt to have SB at my wedding a few months prior, and I resolved to do whatever I could to make it to hers. Things righted themselves as much as possible, too: my dear friend C. happened to have a flexible schedule that day and picked me up at the airport before whisking me off to her apartment in Atlanta. When she finished work for the day, we had a wonderful dinner with another close friend in Atlanta.

The next day, I made it onto the flight. I had found a killer deal on a rental car in L.A., so I didn’t lose much there. I met up with my friends at the wedding hotel (the friends I was originally going to hitch a ride with the day before), and we had such a great time.

Over the course of three days, I was able to connect with four of my very closest friends after months of not being able to see them. I had numerous meaningful, life-affirming conversations with my loves, and I was able to see SB marry her longtime partner. I didn’t feel great, migraine-wise, but my heart was full and I was so, so thankful I’d figured out a way to make the trip. When I got back to Georgia, I felt as if I had refueled my brain and my heart. I didn’t realize how much I needed to see those dear friends until they were with me.

So, in sum, the travel situation was a pain in the butt (and that’s putting it mildly). But I called on friends for help and for company and for conversation, and I was richly rewarded. My mental health really needed some nurturing, and I am so grateful to have gotten that. I wouldn’t trade that weekend—including the flight that left me behind and gave me a chance to see my Atlanta girlfriends—for anything.

Have you ever had the heartwarming experience of connecting/reconnecting with friends? Have you ever had your friends turn a crappy time into one that you’ll never forget?

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