“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.” ~Love Actually
Yesterday morning Matt and I were scheduled to leave on a plane from LAX to Salt Lake City at 10:15am. The night before we were up late packing and didn’t go to bed until near 3:00am, and although we needed to be out of the house by 6:00am to drive down to LA, we set our alarms (6 separate alarms to be exact) for 5:00am and fell asleep. I awoke with a start at 7:45am, and in an absolute panic because our plane would be leaving in exactly 2.5 hours and we hadn’t even left Santa Barbara yet!
We threw on clothes and our bags into the car, and were on the road by 8:00am. Matt always gives me a hard time for being paranoid about missing my flights, but this time my worst nightmare was coming true. This trip was to be my Christmas present to Matt- a 5-day getaway to snowy Park City for lots of R&R, and we were about to miss it. On a good day-no traffic, good weather, etc-it takes about 1.5 hours to drive from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, and that morning it was pouring down rain and we were leaving at the perfect time to hit all bad traffic conditions. But we decided to try, and so the adventure began. Several times Matt would cringe in the passenger seat and remind me that getting into an accident would not help us make out flight, and my response was always, “Babe, I’m going to drive fast, but safely.” And I did.
We made it to my Uncle Brad’s house in Santa Monica in 1 hour, and his roommate Aref was out on the curb waiting to hop in and drive us to the airport so we wouldn’t have to pay for long-term parking. I’ll admit that I was anxious by how slow Aref seemed to be driving, but I happily conversed with him about the upcoming film Invictus, and he told me how that was actually the name of a religion in Rome in the 4th and 5th centuries; it was a welcomed distraction from my growing anxiety.
We pulled up to the Southwest terminal at 9:45am with exactly 30 minutes to get to our gate, and the crowd outside could not have been anymore chaotic and packed. Matt ran to the end of the curbside check-in line, and I dashed inside to check out the baggage check line in there; both had well over 100 people with at least a 2 hour wait. So I asked the nearest security guard if she could help us, and she that we would miss our flight and that our best bet was to wait in the line to try to change our flight to the next one out. My heart dropped, but I still wasn’t willing to admit defeat. So I ran back outside and was on my way to Matt at the end of the curbside check-in line when I stopped and realized that although the security couldn’t help me, it never hurts to ask the people who are already in line.
A wonderful girl named Sam allowed us in line with her to check our baggage, and in 10 minutes our baggage was checked. The line to go through security would have taken us at least 2 hours to go through, but with the help of blonde woman and a dark haired businessman we made it through the preliminary boarding pass check in 5 minutes. By appealing to one of the security personnel we were sent to a different security line upstairs for people who need to make it through faster, yet that line would have taken us at least 30 minutes had it not been for the kindness of a Swedish gentleman and a dad traveling with his son; we made it through in 10 minutes. It was 10:10am by the time our carry on items made it through the xray machine and Matt and I grabbed everything and ran toward gate 13 (which happens to be the farthest gate in that terminal). Our stockinged feet slid over the tile floor and I could hear people laughing as we raced by, but we had made it this far and there was still a chance. We arrived at the gate and as we gave the security guard our boarding passes he told us that we made it with only 1 minute before the gate was to be closed. As we walked onto the plane, people looked at the shoes and belongings in our hands and our flushed faces, and we received several congratulatory “You made it!’s”. We had done it: somehow we had managed to get from my house in Santa Barbara to our plane in LAX in 2 hours 15 minutes!
A couple days ago I wrote the opening quote from Love Actually in Christmas cards to my Bramasole girls, and as I wrote it down on each of their cards I thought about what kind of love each one was experiencing, and the quote meant something different as I wrote it for each one. But I hadn’t given any thought to what it meant to me, and after yesterday I now know. Ironic that my realization also took place in an airport? I don’t think so. Love is all around and when tested, will rise to greatness. When Matt and I arrived at the airport and realized that there was no way we could make this flight alone, we turned to the people and asked them for help, and they willingly gave it to us when they had no reason to do so. As the plane took off I thought about the humanity and grace of these complete strangers and felt a warmth spread over me. Then I realized that that warmth was not just inside me, and I looked out the window as the plane broke through the cloud cover and above it was a bright blue sky with a brilliant sun. And it occurred that despite all of the evil and sadness that is spread like a gray veil over the world, there will always be those moments of grace shining through. And although it may not be particularly dignified or newsworthy, love actually is all around.
We awoke this morning to white world covered in pristine snow. What a wonderful world.