January 12, 2007

Dreams of Hawaii

When I arrived at work today, the temperature was -17 degrees Farenheit (that's -26.11 degrees Celcius) but, according to Weather.com, it felt like -35 degrees F (-37.22 C). That's damn cold, people.

I've been cold all day. I'm wearing a turtleneck sweater, with an oxford shirt on over it, and the inner fleece jacket of my winter coat on over that. And my hands are still freezing.

It brings to mind last year today, when I was enjoying the beautiful balmy weather in Hawaii.

That trip was a grand adventure, right from the beginning. It was exciting because this was the first flight of our youngest. She was so happy to be going. I had booked flights online, so we had to change planes twice between Montana and Hawaii. That part I'd do differently next time. When we arrived in Denver from Montana, we were notified that our flight to LA was delayed for hours, which would cause us to miss arriving in Kona that night. He had business meetings the next morning, and we couldn't miss arriving that night. So we jumped into the long line at the customer service desk to do what we could to find a different flight. We were probably around 40th or 50th in line.

After standing there in the same spot for 15 minutes, my hours and hours of watching The Amazing Race finally paid off, and I had an epiphany to use the phone in the waiting area to call the airline and try to secure different flights that would enable us to arrive in Kona that night. I was on the phone with them for probably 20 minutes, but it worked. We rushed to get to the next flight.

When we got to the gate, we were told we were on standby. That sucked! My husband hates flying anyway, and this really pissed him off. Not that we could do anything about it, really. The airline had us by the balls. We waited and waited for them to call us, and finally I went up to the desk, and they said it was good I had, or they'd have never known we were there to fly. We fortunately got on that flight. Our (5) seats were all separated. That was a little scary, since I didn't feel comfortable having my 8 year old separated from me. One guy took pity and gave up his seat so we could sit together. The others sat separately and my husband had to suffer his fying anxiety alone amongst strangers more than thirty rows away from me.

In LA, (this part is a blur, because we were tired and stressed) we had only a small amount of time to catch our connecting flight to Kona. We made it. But if I remember, the airport was HUGE, and we were directed by employees of our airline to go to a certain desk, where the line was so long, and once we reached first in line, they told us we were at the wrong desk, and we needed to go upstairs to an entirely different desk. More stress and running with carry-ons through an unfamiliar airport. We barely made it on that flight, and this was another that we had to change because of delays, so we sat apart yet again. This time, I was able to get someone to change again, and sit with my daughter, but my 12 year old son and husband and daughter were all in different areas of the plane.

I remember a few things about that flight:
1. The guy next to me had a lot of electronic toys with him, like his personal DVD player... (I watched The Godfather silently beside him when I got really bored). All throughout that flight, I noticed his feet stunk, BAD. The funny part was, once we all reunited in Kona at the end of the line, each one of us mentioned we had people beside us whose feet stunk bad. Then we figured out that it was the stinking air system that stunk, not the people. And it was vile. Just writing it out makes me relive the smell. Eeeeew.
2. My 12 year old son sat next to a guy who played poker with him for hours. Should I have been more worried? I had no option but to accept it. The funny part was, my son won more times than the dude he was playing. Yes, he's smart.

Once we arrived in Kona, it was already 11:30 p.m. and we had arrived 4 hours later than expected, and on a different airline than originally planned as well. We stood there waiting for our luggage, watching all those pieces revolving around and around the belt, but of course ours never arrived. It was still with our original airline. We went to the little desk to file a report for missing luggage.

The amazing thing we found out: the rental car agency had kept a guy at their office, waiting for hours, because they knew we were due to arrive. That part amazed me, on that horrible night. My husband was so pissed about our luggage, and the flights, that on the 15 minute drive to our hotel, he said, "Watch, with our luck the hotel won't have a room for us. God!" I replied, "Come on, honey! Could you BE more negative?? Just mellow out. We're almost there."

We finally arrived at our hotel, the Hilton Waikoloa Village, with about 20 other stragglers from our flight, at around 12:30 a.m.(Hawaii time). For me, it was 3 a.m. and I was exhausted.

As we stood in line, we started to notice that people weren't moving once they arrived at the desk. It was highly strange. The people didn't look very happy, either. My husband started grumbling again and I was losing patience by this time too. Finally it was our turn.

The lady behind the desk said, "I'm sorry, but all our rooms are booked. We are trying to find you another room at a neighboring resort a couple miles down the road."

What. The. FUCK??

I said, "You're kidding, right? We had two rooms booked and confirmed in MARCH of last year, for a convention being held AT THIS HOTEL, and you gave both our rooms to SOMEONE ELSE?"

She apologized profusely and assured me we'd get the same discounted convention room rate at the other hotel.

"But our luggage didn't arrive! They are calling THIS hotel once it does, so we'll have clothes to wear. I have no way to know who to call to let them know we switched hotels."

Again the apologies and the fact that they had no more rooms available at all.

"But we are in meetings at this hotel all day long for days. What will our kids do if they aren't staying at this hotel but this is where we are going to be hanging out all day? This is a nightmare."

Again the apologies. She really was pretty nice about it. It could have been much worse. My husband by this time was about 30 feet across the marble floor, pacing and swearing under his breath.

Finally I looked her in the eye, and said the one thing that was of paramount importance above all else:

"All I care about, all I CAN care about, right now, is where do I get a toothbrush? Do I ask the new hotel for that or do I ask you, because I can't care about One. More. Thing. NOTHING else matters to me. Nothing. Just a toothbrush."

I don't know if she could sense a woman on the edge from my quietly controlled voice...maybe it was the twitch in my eyelid, or the quiver in my chin, but she looked at me for a moment, and she started typing furiously on her keyboard, then she said "Just a minute" and walked into an adjoining room. She was gone for five minutes.

When she got back, she said, "Don't look too excited, because all those people you see in the other lines are not getting this. They will switch hotels. I got you a room. A suite, actually. Here. It's very nice. And it's yours for the 4 days you'll be here, and we'll charge you only the rate you'd have paid for your original room. Don't say anything to anyone about this, because those people will never understand. I mean, this suite costs $1,200 per night, so I think you'll love it."

I was floored. It was all I could do to hold back from jumping over that marble counter and kissing her full on the lips. I have never felt more grateful to a stranger in my entire life.

We were escorted to another building, where we were directed into an elevator, and down a long, curved hallway. As we neared the end of the hallway, we figured the big doors that WERE the end of the hallway were an exit, and ours must be one of the adjacent rooms. But no...the entire end of the hall WAS the huge double doors to our suite, and we walked inside to a room of such luxury that we could only laugh with joy and abandon.

The suite had a marble entry, a large bathroom off the entry, a big bedroom with two large closets, complete with robes and a huge, fluffy king-sized bed, and the opposite end of the suite had a large living room with two couches, a large TV, a couple oversized chairs, and a dining room as well, with a large glass dining table, and a kitchen sink area with fridge. The master bath alone was bigger than my daughter's bedroom. It had marble from floor to (12-foot) ceiling, and a huge walk-in shower. It had a mirror with two sinks set in a marble counter that was probably 10 or 12 feet long. It was gorgeous. The bathtub was oversized and very luxurious. There were 12 fluffy white towels in the bathroom. Our suite had 5 (count them, FIVE) lanais (balconies) off of it, looking out in three different directions. Oh. My. God.

Almost immediately a doorbell(!) rang, and they rolled in 2 rollaway beds for us, and extra sets of robes for the kids to sleep in (no luggage for any of us) and 5 toiletries kits, 2 geared toward boys and 3 for girls. I have never felt so pampered in my life as I did when I crawled into that wonderful bed and died.

And you know what? I never even thought to take a damn picture of that room. Nor could I later remember the name of the beautiful saint at the front desk who took pity and helped a woman on the edge.

PS ~ Blogger won't let me post a couple pics from the trip that I want to. I'll try later...


Cele said...

oh mi god. You just reaffirmed for me that I do not want to go to Hawaii. That other women's husbands travel as bad as mine does. And that Murphy's Law is universal, but you've got a guardian angel.

Btw, your bitten off, calmly controlled, angst came through perfectly

Anonymous said...

What a nightmare! Maybe that is why I don't travel. That and the fact that I have 2 kids under the age of 5 (it sounded much more impressive when I said 3!) and I am even more tired after traveling than if we had just stayed home and relaxed!

I thought I missed Hawaii before I read your post, and now I miss it even more! We went to Maui over 10 years ago and I so want to go back. We went in mid-December so there very few tourists and it was a blast having beaches all to ourselves! Although now my motivation is to go volcano hopping around the globe, with Kilauea being one of the first!

Anonymous said...

To be in Hawaii right now, I would sleep on a curb!! It's so cold! I know that woman on the edge voice and it isn't pretty! You probably scared the hell out of her. She was waiting for your head to start spinning, like the exorcist!!

ruadamu2 said...

Am I the only one that got turned on by the WTF comment?

montchan said...

this is an amazing story. It brought tears to my eyes. because sometimes good things do happen when you least expect it.

Anonymous said...

Oh - a suite! Can you please be a woman on the edge the day we travel together?!

Anonymous said...

Sorry its taken so long to let you know what a kick it has been finding this! It'll take a while to get up to speed but thanks for the insight, laughs & window into your life. You crack me up & make me hurt for past stuff. Congrats to you for thinking for yourself & making that huge step. Heavy stuff.

Great writing, I bet that is cathartic for you, keep it up.

Bishop Rick said...

I have had trips like that, but they never end up in a luxury suite.

Nice going.

My Marrakech said...

I want to go to Hawaii, too! My husband when we were dating wrote his first love letter to me from there!

NoSurfGirl said...

"each one of us mentioned we had people beside us whose feet stunk bad. Then we figured out that it was the stinking air system that stunk, not the people."


OK, the air conditioner in my mom's car smelled like (sorry, this is gross) feminine odor.

I h a t e d it.

Stinky air systems do suck.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Switching to Beta has caused a bunch of my commenters to become "anonymous" for some reason. I shall reply anyway.

Cele, Hawaii was way worth my ordeal, and more. I'd go back in a heartbeat if I could.

Anonymous 1 was Lemon Blossom: Travel is a pain with kids sometimes. But sometimes worth it.

Anonymous 2 was Joom, I think: It was a scary voice. I have heard my own mother speak it, and it makes me quake.

Ruadamu2, who are you, and why does my swearing turn you on?

Montchan, I still dream of traveling your way someday.

Anonymous who was Genilimaa: Yes, we can fake me being a woman on the edge when we travel together. You know I would never actually BE a woman on the edge when I'm around you!

Anonymous who is Fat Starving Artist: Thanks. I'm glad you are here, and hope to continue our friendship more thru blogging, and otherwise.

BR, but you get to upgrade to first class sometimes, don't you? So maybe that makes up for it a bit.

Maryam, I'd love to hear that love note from your man. How romantic!

NoSurfGirl, I'd take stinky feet ANYDAY over gross feminine odor. Eeeeew.

supernova said...

Nice!!! It's always so welcome when something good finally happens, after a long spate of bad luck!!!

Taiko Tari said...

Oh Lisa... Good for you. Somewhere in your past you must have done something extremely good. The room sounded like heaven.
I'm very happy that everything ended well after the very disastrous departure.

Holly said...

I'm with Bishop Rick--I've had really AWFUL flights but they usually resulted in a stay in a Motel 6, not some luxury suite.

I'm totally jealous.

Crystal Clear said...

ALoha-Boy I don't know how I managed to find your blog but what an awesome read it is. I live in Hawaii and am glad you had such a wonderful stay after such a nightmare of a journey. If you ever, I mean WHEN you come back again we will have to have coffee and blog together :-)

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Crystal Clear,

How can I find your blog in order to blog together? :) And yes, I plan to return someday. Hawaii is simply amazing!