Mazel tov! My niece got engaged. Impulsively, we decided that I would surprise my sister and fly in to New Jersey for the engagement party.
I spent a lovely day with my relatives, especially hanging out with my nieces, then attended the engagement party in the evening. It was a real treat to see so many relatives I haven’t seen in so long, especially my 92-year-old vaccinated grandmother.
My flight back didn’t leave until 1:30 pm the next day, so I leisurely slept in, grabbed breakfast with my sister, and summoned the Uber back to Newark Airport, planning to arrive at noon, 1 ½ hours before my fight. On the way, my daughter Yitty, who was picking me up, asked me for the flight details. Which is when it hit me. That my flight was not leaving from Newark. It was leaving from La Guardia Airport. Which was 45 minutes further away.
My first reaction was to cover my mouth and say, “Oh no!!!”
Hadid, my Uber driver, looked over at me in his rearview mirror, concerned.
“My flight isn’t leaving from Newark!” I told him, panicky.
“Where is it leaving from??” he asked.
Hadid smiled serenely.
“Okay, we will go to La Guardia! I’ve never been to La Guardia.”
I frantically opened the app to change my destination. Cha-ching! The price magically changed from $65 to $95, and the ETA magically changed from noon to 12:39. My stomach dropped and my breathing intensified. What to do? What to do? I have TSA pre-check, so my security line is shorter, but who knows how long everything would take? I quickly checked in online on my phone, and screenshotted my boarding pass. My gate was D10. What did this mean? Is gate D far? Is gate D10 very far? How much walking would this involve? Should I tell my husband that I might miss my flight? (Answer: no.)
There was nothing left to do, of course, but pray.
I took out my prayer book and got started, mindfully slowing my breathing and relaxing my stomach muscles. I reminded myself of the truths I know: God runs the world. He’s the Boss. Nothing happens without His willing it. This was an opportunity to exercise humility: I’m not in charge. Although I pride myself on having it together and being organized and responsible, I mess up and make mistakes. This is good. This is a growth moment, or, as we call them, a mussar moment.
I obsessively checked my ETA on the Uber app and finally put my phone away to focus on my prayers.
Thank you, Hashem, for this amazing trip. If it’s meant to be for me to miss my flight, so be it. I’m not in charge. I’m not infallible. This too is for the best.
Hadid, who was speeding for me (5 stars and a 25% tip for him), needed my help as we got closer, because he really had never been to La Guardia before, and together we navigated the signs. At 12:40 he dropped me off and I hopped out and ran through security. For some reason, it took forever for my luggage to come off the security belt, and I recited Psalm 100, the thanksgiving prayer, over and over, having in mind how grateful I was for (thinking positive here) making my flight. Then I speed-walked through the airport (yes, D10 is far), and got to the gate 5 minutes before boarding began.
And then I sat down and breathed. I had made it.
But when I thought about it later, I was so happy this stressful experience happened to me. It was, actually, a very spiritual day. How often do we get the opportunity to be acutely cognizant that God runs the world, that we put our futures in His hands every moment of every day?
And, of course, I made a mental note to always, always, check and double-check my airports before making arrangements. But I still know: mistakes are inevitable. And maybe even… preferable.