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Competency Academy

On Sunday, I missed my flight. It was the only flight from Charleston, WV to Dulles going that day. And I missed it. My friend, N, and I had been at Hindman Settlement School for the Troublesome Creek Writer's Retreat. We were headed back to Charleston when we got stuck behind a truly horrific car accident scene. By the time traffic began moving, I was pretty sure we weren't going to make it in time for my flight.

In the past, this would have wrecked me. I remember once having a roadside meltdown when my luggage was lost on a return flight from Italy. Or the time I made my brother come pick me up because I'd failed to make a reservation for a hotel room and everything was booked in Morgantown. Or the time I insisted I couldn't possibly drive home for Thanksgiving anymore after being caught in terrible DC traffic the Sunday after turkey day. The list could go on and on. My anxiety surrounding travel of all kinds is well documented. I'm the one who thinks we should probably get to the airport 3-4 hours early. I stop a minimum number of times while driving to avoid long delays. I hate when plans get changed.

So, it was a surprise, even to me, that I simply walked into the Yeager Airport, aware that I must have missed the flight, went straight to the car rental counter, and arranged to get a car I could drop at Dulles later that day. I'm not saying some tears weren't shed over the cost of this endeavor (the weekend cost me roughly double what I'd budgeted). However, I think that I've gotten much better at accepting the things I cannot change. Like horrible car accidents. And flights that have to take off without you. And $200 rental cars.

I think that all of this recent travel problem-solving is just practice for my upcoming road trip. I'm getting better. More competent. And I'm learning to roll with the punches in a way that will likely be necessary in a year-long travel scenario. I'm choosing to think of this as my travel competency academy. I'm learning how to be flexible, smart, think on my feet. And I'm learning that I can survive things I would have considered fatal in the past. Like missing a flight. Or renting a car without a reservation.

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