Monday, October 10, 2011

The Savannah Seven

Sometimes life throws you a curve and you have to be resourceful to hit it back up the middle. And sometimes strangers cross your path that make you smile and see all that is good in the human race.

A few weeks ago, I lost the planner that I use for both work and major home events. This planner has important work meetings,notes and some non routine home events and commitments. I was NOT happy about losing it.

I received a call about 5 days later from a woman who said her husband had found it on the road about a half mile from my work. I must have driven off with it on my roof. She gave me her address and said I could pick it up after work. I drove to their home, which was in a rundown neighborhood full of duplex homes that had seen better days. I knocked on the screen door and saw a rather cluttered home at first but the smiles of the occupants quickly took over my view. I told them my name and they knew why I was there. A petite woman with full sleeve tattoos came out and handed me the planner. She said they knew it must have been important and that the owner was probably looking for it. (I had put my name and cell phone number in it.) I couldn’t thank her enough and walked back to my car with a smile on my face and a spring in my step that two people who couldn’t be more different from me had just gone out of their way to help a stranger. I’m going to drop off some toys for the children.

This past weekend, two friends and I began what was a girls’ weekend in Savannah. We’d planned it earlier in the year using vacation days that we typically save for concert trips. We’d even planned it so that we could leave from three different home airports, connect in Charlotte and take the same flight to Savannah.

On Thursday morning, I headed to Hartford airport ready for a fun four days. These two friends came into my life through our mutual interest in Clay Aiken but they have become dear friends and we get together even during non concert times. It’s hard with homes in Massachusetts, Alabama and New Orleans but we’ve managed to always find a way to meet in the middle.

The bad news started when USAir gate agents announced that instead of beginning our boarding, we were going to be looking at a long delay because apparently our aircraft hadn’t left Charlotte yet to take us back there from Hartford. (We won’t get into how incompetent you can be to not realize that the plane you are supposed to be preparing for boarding your passengers in ten minutes was 300 miles away.) The delay kept getting longer and longer as I texted with Peggy, who was on getting ready to take off. Thank goodness for my tech savvy mother who was at home receiving text messages from me and trying to find information on later flights to Savannah. (Here is when I seriously started considering buying an iPad or Motorola Xoom tablet as trying to do this on a smartphone when I'm aggravated just wasn't working.)

Miraculously, we finally began to board and it looked like I was going to be able to make it. A last minute text from Peggy, now in Charlotte announced that not only was our flight to Savannah canceled but all flights to Savannah have been canceled. I frantically texted to her and TechMom to find a one way car rental.

The rest of the afternoon was a wonderful experience that resulted from what could have been disastrous. Peggy and our other friend, Cissy managed to find four other women (all strangers to us and each other) who were in the same boat. I guess we all made a quick mental assessment and ruled out serial killers and decided to go for it. We rented a large Grand Caravan, picked a driver and a navigator (me, as I had my GPS) and boarded the airport rental bus for Alamo while beginning introductions. We crammed seven suitcases into the van, programmed Savannah airport into the GPS and headed out.

What followed were four hours , 250 miles and seven women getting to know each other; sharing interesting stories, personal stories and fascinating stories all while cheering for important highway signs. In many ways, we were very different but found a lot of intersections in our lives from colleges to mothers facing terminal illness. I wonder why God/fate/karma brought us together and safely brought us to our destination. We even debated whether we would have made the trip if it had been six women and one man who wanted to take the trip with us. That debate took a funny turn when Chelle told the story of attending college in Florida and meeting Ted Bundy! (We wanted to rub her head for good luck.)

So, any other cars driving along the highway toward Savannah that day would have seen these seven women:

Marilyn-A nurse who decided to pursue her passion and is now in cooking school training to be a pastry chef (and on her way to visit her daughter in college in Savannah)

Cori-A business person working at a famous company (with free samples in her bag) but whose crime stories of her CSI forensic police detective husband were a matter of greater interest

Cathy-An obstetrician who also devotes a lot of time to her sorority at the national level. She voted for Ruben but we won’t hold that against her. In fact, we’ll send her some videos from the Timeless Tour.

Cissy-A small business owner and one time college English professor

Erin-A former ballerina who chose to teach dance after an injury and who works for a recruiting company

Chelle-The almost Ted Bundy victim who now rides in biking marathons all over the country (including Alaska)

Peggy-A single mom who works in schools assessing young children for behavioral and learning disabilities so that they can get the help they need at an early age

One of the girls asked us how we had met. It seems silly to say we met on a Clay Aiken message board in 2003, but we did. And he’s taught us about inclusion of children with disabilities, the plight of the night walkers in Uganda, how the simple acoustic version of a song by a great voice can soothe what ails you and how a common interest in a singer can not only bring you three wonderful friends but indirectly introduce to you, even for a few hours, four other extraordinary people that shined a little light into what had been a dismal day.

We grabbed a guy at the rental drop off to take a quick snap with an iphone in bad light!