Part of the deal of buying airline tickets through our friend’s mom was that we would be having to fly standby. Not only were we flying standby, but we were also flying during peak travel season (for Americans, as well as Europeans). The odds of getting to Stockholm were not in our favor — two of us were headed towards international waters on Saturday (note: a very busy traveling day), while the remaining four were making their trek on the following Monday. Did I also mention that there is only one direct flight a day from JFK to Stockholm?
We started our journey very early Saturday morning. Carmaggeddon was supposedly going to cause traffic delays for us, but we both felt like we were safe heading towards LAX at 3am for our 6am flight. We got there probably faster than we’ve ever gotten to the airport before. One obstacle defeated! Unfortunately, Carmaggeddon was only one of many obstacles we’d have in the next few days.
James and I were probably the last two that they let on the plane in LA. We were sure we weren’t going to make it, and according our our friend’s mom, it was a miracle that we did. We were naïve enough to believe, “Hey, that wasn’t that bad,” and confidently went on way towards JFK.
Once we landed in JFK, it was a different story. We had four hours until our flight to Stockholm, which involved a lot of traveling between terminals, talking to ticket ladies, and eating expensive airport food. To make this already long story shorter, we didn’t make our Stockholm flight OR the following Copenhagen flight (although a man who had been waiting for 3 days to make either flight, got on the Copenhagen flight), and we ended up ringing up my sister at Hotel Kwok to crash for a night in New York.
Though a short visit, James was considerably excited because he hasn’t been to New York since 8 (and I admit, I got pretty excited when I saw the Manhattan lights — New York isn’t such a bad place to get stranded). Upon arrival, hotelkeeper/bartender sister immediately made us delicious Pimm’s Cups, an East Coast staple libation. James insisted on eating New York-style foods, in the vein of pizza, hot dogs, and maybe a bag of hot nuts. We immediately set out in search of pizza. With James still wanting to satisfy his cravings of all things edible in New York, we made another pitstop at The Meatball Shop in Williamsburg before heading home to search for other ways to Stockholm and rest before another long day.
The next morning, we had a nice, hearty brunch at Pies & Thighs before heading back for Round 2 at JFK. For such a short amount of time in New York, we sure ate a lot (isn’t that how it always is?). After a series of mishaps (forgetting my cell phone at my sister’s, leaving James behind at the Metro entrance without enough money on the Metro card), we met a nice man with a pure-breed Miniature Pinscher (direct from Italy — and don’t call it a “chihuahua”!) who helped us get where we needed to go. At the airport, sitting in the same seats at the same gate where only 24 hours ago we were so let down, James and I wrung our hands while nervously watching the standby list. I seriously had never had my heartbeat as fast as it did that evening.
It looked like we weren’t going to get on. We were numbers 2 and 3 on the list, and it looked like there was only 1 seat available. They kept calling for the number 1 guy on the standby list. Again and again. After what seemed like an eternity, he never showed up, and they called my name to take the one remaining seat.
Earlier, James and I had discussed what would happen if we were put in the situation where only one of us could go. “You go,” I said with anxiety and uncertainty in my voice, “My sister is here, and I have a phone that can email.” Well, when the actually time came, I wavered about my decision, and James bravely (and knowing I would break down if he didn’t) gave me the remaining seat on the plane. With his nod of approval, I guiltily (but without hesitation) accepted my boarding pass and scrambled on as the very last passenger before they closed the gate doors. I nestled into my middle seat, guilt settling in while wondering what would happen of James, but happy knowing that in eight hours, I would be the first of my friends to set foot in Stockholm.