A Trip From The Heart when time’s never right
Talk about picking the worst time to travel, in midst of a pandemic when everyone around you is covered in masks, looking like bank robbers, armed with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Family members sending you article upon news clipping on the newest debates about wether or not it’s safe to fly and how close we are to getting a vaccine while the COVID cases are peeking.
Despite the warnings, I go against my common sense and book a flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis. I don’t tell many people, after all, traveling during a time like this isn’t exactly information you openly offer up in conversation unless you have good reason for such foolish decision to fly. I have to admit that during the early days of this pandemic, when Atlanta was ordered to shelter in place and I hardly left the house at all, I might have been slightly judgmental toward people’s decision to travel, especially when there wasn’t good reason to do so.
It has been ten months since I left Wisconsin early last winter so I decided I needed to pay a visit promted by a special birthday and feeling lead by my heart. There is unfinished business and if not now, it could very well be another ten months or not happen at all, so this was reason enough for me to take the risk and expose myself to the possibility of catching this virus. Fingers crossed, we are all healthy so far.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as safe travel at this time, regardless I pack a small backpack with clothes for a week, put on my armor in form of an N95 mask and throw some hand sanitizer in my bag, hoping for the best. I feel compelled to take this journey, to find some answers, so I let myself be guided.
The airline recommends arrival to the airport 3 hours prior to take-off. I obey, mostly do to the fact that I‘m traveling via expired drivers license as my only form of ID aside from my German passport which probably would draw more attention than be working in my favor. At the ATL airport I head straight for security, ready to be held up by TSA for questioning but to my surprise they scan my drivers license, hand it back to me and wish me a good flight. No mention of my license being expired!
The money I saved from opting out of checking a bag, I spend on upgrading my seat to 1st class with more leg room and hopefully more distance between myself and others. A luxury I can usually do without. I immediately benefit from this decision when more and more people pile into the plane and I realize that the airline does not go by the advised measures of social distancing not leaving the middle seats open or spacing people out.
Luckily the flight from ATL to Minneapolis is just over 2 hours and I don’t have to linger at the airport any longer than necessary to wait at baggage claim.
I get picked up curbside heading for Wisconsin with a sigh of relief and another 2 hours later I find myself at the disc golf course in Rice Lake where the birthday boy is getting ready to play a round with his family. He doesn’t know I’m in his sister’s car when we pull up and I stay behind, crouched down in the front seat in hiding. After the family hugs and exchanges birthday wishes, I get out of the car heading toward them while birthday boy is sitting down, looking in my direction. I can hear him say “No way”! as I am approaching from a distance. He had no idea I was flying in to surprise him. Lucky for me he seems pleasantly surprised and gets up to hug me. We play 18 holes before we head in to town for pizza. It’s about as country as it gets around these parts and I embrace every bit of its slow pace and simplistic way of life as I watch the sun setting over the lakes and fields of small town Wisconsin soaking in the change of scenery yet being back at such a familiar place.