Bird and I were clipping along at a steady, hurried pace. Our London Heathrow gate was in sight – just a couple hundred yards to go, and we’d be boarding our plane for Chicago.
And then I froze.
“Wait!” I yelled to Bird who hadn’t noticed I was absent from his side.
I was bent over with my head in my too big, too messy bag desperately searching for my boarding pass. I could see Bird’s shoes as he returned to my side, tapping his toes feverishly.
“I think I threw out my boarding pass,” I said.
“What?Where?Howcould you?How?When?Did you…?”
Bird’s questions flew at me in rapid succession and went unanswered as I continued to dig. I wanted to keep my head in my bag and not have to see the look on Bird’s face.
I grabbed my passport and asked Bird, who was now muttering to himself, to take my stuff to the gate. And then I ran in the direction we’d just come from.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find it!”
Back in the day (read: when I had the fat job, the fat paycheck, the fancy title, and the overblown notion of self-importance), I was organized. I was very ORGANIZED. Everything had its place, its shelf, its pocket, its carefully labeled box. Back in the day, I was a frequent flier and boarding passes were always kept in the side pocket of my bag of many pockets.
Back in the day, my long weeks were consumed with left-brained tasks – making ‘B’ plans, evaluating worst-case scenarios, managing through crisis, reviewing financials, making lists, making more lists, making lists of my lists. I seldom stopped for a breath or paused for self-reflection, such luxuries weren’t on my lists.
When I pulled the rip cord (read: when I got my reality check and quit the fat job that I’d allowed to define me for eight years), it was a rare instance of allowing my intuition to guide me. For the first time in years, I stepped out of my head and followed my heart. I was tired. I was tired of ME – of the woman I’d allowed myself to become. I suspect Bird was tired of me too; having sex was never on any of my lists.
I took up guitar, planted a second vegetable garden, and started writing everything with a hot pink pen. I stopped making lists. I cooked more, followed recipes less. I was living my life without a ‘B’ plan.
Liberty had its price of course, and there were tradeoffs to be made. As the creative side of my brain began to blossom, the tapped out, left side of my brain gathered some dust. Stocks went unchecked. Dry cleaning was forgotten. As I let go, I got…well, I got a little laissez-faire, and sometimes things, little things, fell between the cracks.
Or got tossed into a trash can at the world’s busiest international airport.
Frantically retracing my steps, I poked through every trash can I saw in search of my boarding pass. Each time I came up empty handed, I was met with puzzled looks from strangers, but there was no time for vanity. (Only later did I consider just how hard it is to look weird and attract attention in an airport as diverse as Heathrow.) I found it on my fourth try – clean and dry almost as if I had carefully placed it in the can.
I raced back to the gate and a nervous Bird, endorphins flowing, waiving my boarding pass like Charlie Bucket with his golden ticket for Wonkaland. I asked Bird, begged Bird for silence, not because I couldn’t handle the lecture, but because I wanted the space to quietly celebrate and honor the letting go and the woman I’d become in the process. Even in the wake of a crisis that had me poking through trash cans like a vagrant, I was grateful to not be “back in the day”.
Bird and I were laughing by the time we were wheels up for Chicago.