This past Sunday, just a few days after my return from London, my friends and I went to wine country for the day. We took my friend's jeep and rode with the top down through the Sierra Foothills. The vines had yet to bud their leaves, but the hills were bright green from the winter's rain. The sun was shining and the weather was a perfect 70 degrees. As I sat overlooking a vineyard tucked into rolling hills, I sipped my Voignier and relaxed into the moment - allowing myself time to take in all that had happened over the previous week. I guess you could say that things starting going a little strange on Monday night. I had spent the day in Rome, being a tour guide for a young woman I met in Soriano. On the train to the airport I sat across from a man reading a Penguin Classic book. This immediately intrigued me. It's not often you see a man reading literature. We struck up a conversation that carried us through the airport, dinner, a three hour delay to our flight, and a two hours plane ride. Normally, after landing, we would've parted ways, but as my luck with the Tube would have it, once again I was in the situation that it was too late in the night for a train to my hotel. I would recommend the Holiday Inn Express in N. Acton outside of London, but not if you need to get there after 12:30 at night.
My new friend had offered his spare bedroom, but after passport control we were separated. I thought maybe he had run for the next train and I was on my own. I went to the ATM to withdraw a large sum of money for a cab ride out to N. Acton, but the ATM wouldn't cough up the cash. So here I was, in Gatwick Airport, with no British pounds and no place to stay. Before I began this journey of following my dreams, this situation would've left me in a panic. I would've been whining in my head about my bad luck. As I walked through the empty airport, I realized how much I've changed. I was calm, almost zen about my situation.
There wasn't anyone in the airport except police and a few travelers. I went to sit down while I decided if I would take the overground train into central London and then try to find a hotel, or if I would just wait the three hours until the tube was running again. What was one night of missed sleep?
It was at this moment that my friend found me. I followed him home like a lost puppy dog. He fed me peanut butter and jelly, let me use his internet and shower, and gave me a safe, comfortable place to sleep.
A few days later, upon landing in California, I called my mother and told her my story about being rescued from a night in the airport. "You certainly are one lucky girl," she said. I agreed and then informed her that my house had been broken into while I was away.
My friend's were shocked by my reaction to my house being burglarized. I didn't fall into sadness or despair. I've had my down moments as I've inventoried all that was taken, but all the thieves stole was stuff: jewelry, electronics, copies of the books I wrote, shoes, and art. Some of it was rather personal and sentimental, but things don't hold love or memories. For everything that was taken, all I could think about was the gratitude I had for the friends who took care of calling the police and cleaning my place. I think the most anxiety I've had is realizing that I need to do a lot of shopping. It seems rather extravagant to spend this much money at one time.
So as I sat in wine country taking in the moment, two women started a conversation with me. We came to discuss my recent trip and the website. They said to me, "It must be nice to live a charmed life."
A charmed life? Some would see being robbed, a delayed flight that would leave me stranded, or having to go through the events that led me to this journey as bad luck. I don't believe lives are charmed or cursed. I think it's the way we react to the world that decides how we view our existence. Two people can sit and look at wine country - one can be caught up in the anger about something that happened while the other can sit and be grateful for the moment. It's a choice. Maybe choosing the presence brings about more grace.