In yesterday’s post, I mentioned off-handedly that flying makes me sick. It’s genetic. My sisters and I once compared notes on all the public places where we’ve emptied our insides either during or after a flight. It was a long conversation.
My most recent episode was two nights ago after landing in Portland, Oregon, to attend my 30th high school reunion. My niece drove me to my hotel and did a good job of masking her horror as I proceeded to throw up in the front lawn of the hotel (better there than in her car). I tried to be discreet, crouching behind a brick column like a sick animal, but it’s hard to be completely silent no matter how much practice you’ve had.
I was better the next morning, but as the day progressed my stomach churned up again. It probably wasn’t helped by the fact that for lunch I ran to the Shell station across the street and bought a bowl of ramen noodles to microwave in the hotel room. I had vowed to devote the day to writing, and the ramen noodle bowl was a nostalgic choice since I had lived on them in high school.
As I tried to dress for the reunion, I could barely stand. I had napped on and off to try to ward off the nausea, but with no success. I finally had to call the friend picking me up to tell her I couldn’t go. I climbed back into bed.
I lay there, sometimes dozing, sometimes not, feeling the emotions. I had flown all the way from Virginia for this event, I had bought a new dress, I had gotten a pedicure as the ultimate luxury. And here I was, lying in bed (if I wasn’t losing my ramen noodles in the bathroom).
“Everything happens for a reason,” I reminded myself. I never thought “why me.” I never even thought “this is terrible!” I was deeply disappointed, though, because I had been looking forward so much to seeing these friends, most of whom I only see every ten years or so when I came back for reunions. One of my exchange student friends was even coming all the way from Columbia.
I did not add any drama to it. I lay in bed listening to my breathing, clearing my head of unnecessary thought patterns, accepting the reality of the situation. One of the best lessons I have learned from Eckhart Tolle is to take action where you can and let go of the rest. By not resisting, whatever lesson the universe is trying to teach you comes through more quickly.
Then I remembered the news report I had heard in the hotel’s breakfast room that morning. Just when I was landing in Portland, another senseless massacre took place in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. It put everything in perspective for me. I wasn’t feeling well, but I had a clean bed to sleep in while I was recovering and I could connect with my friends in other ways. My family was safe. Missing the reunion was not important. I dozed off again.
At 9:00 that night I woke up. I knew immediately I was better. I called a cab, threw on my dress, left my stringy hair as it was, and caught the last couple of hours of the reunion, even more grateful for the lifelong friends I embraced there.