It was finally Christmas break. I had just spent my first semester at Ricks College (now BYU-I). Ricks was in a tiny town in Idaho—the middle of nowhere, it seemed, but we made the most of it by being as social and creative as possible. I had never been away from home like this before, but luckily my older sister lived just a couple apartments away and I lived with my best friends. That semester is a blur of laughter, boys, and fun. Finals week was very stressful, mostly because I was ill prepared and a horrible student. When my last class ended, the only thing I wanted to do was go home to California. I felt utterly exhausted and the bliss that only comes from being completely stress free and taken care of by loving parents was calling my name.
The closest major airport to Rexburg is in Salt Lake City—a four hour drive. I packed my rather enormous suitcase full of four weeks worth of clothing and essentials, and off we went. We were going to stay with my Grandma for a night and she’d drive us to the airport. The plan seemed simple enough.
The time came to catch the beloved plane that would take me home, but things started to go wrong. The traffic was terrible—some big game had just gotten out, and in the packed, snowy streets where we were supposed to meet my sister, nothing seemed to move except the minutes on the clock. My heartbeat quickened in the anticipation. I had been waiting too long! I started praying, pleading continually that I could make it home tonight, and my stomach started turning in knots. By the time we got to the airport, I fear that I didn’t even say goodbye to my sweet Grandma, let alone thank her for all her trouble—I grabbed my baggage (this was before the convenient days of built in wheels—we actually had to heft the suitcases around clumsily) and ran to the desk without looking back. There were four of us—Brooke, Wendy, Jocelyn and me, and they told us that we were too late to check our bags; that we better run if we wanted to try to make the plane. Today, they wouldn’t have even let us try, with all the security measures, but on that day in the Salt Lake City airport, we took our baggage and dashed to our gate. Unfortunately, the gate where our plane was sitting was at the furthest possible gate from us, and each of us had a ridiculous amount of luggage. We were sweating immediately and panting as we struggled down the never ending terminal. Brooke grabbed one of those huge carts on wheels that the curb side checkers use and we all piled our suitcases on and ran a few gates dragging it behind us, but the airport staff did not look kindly on us. We left the screaming attendant and his carriage behind as we strode down the hall with our incredible amount of baggage, struggling with the sheer weight and all the ridiculous winter clothes on my sweating back. Finally, we came to the final stretch and I followed suit, kicking and throwing our suitcases down the escalator before us, not having any care of the staring people or the breakable contents of our bags. I scrambled to gather my things and burst through a crowd to the desk and asked in a desperate screech, “Did we make it, did we make the flight?!?”
“We haven’t started boarding yet. We are having trouble finding a wheelchair for a passenger that is still on the aircraft.” I put my head down and immediately started to weep. Wendy was talking with the woman behind the desk and showing her our tickets, and I feel arms pulling me around and I turn and am enfolded into a very comforting chest while I sob for a few more sweaty minutes. Finally, I look up and find that I am in the arms of my friend Dave Lee, and I look around and see many passengers staring at the spectacle, many of them acquaintances headed home for the holidays.
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