Losing luggage, and learning lessons

When my husband and I prepared for a mid-winter getaway, we each decided to pack a carry-on bag, minimizing any chance for luggage issues. Tucked inside my small bag was everything I needed to relax on the beach leaving all cares behind.

Leaving from Dayton International Airport, I was required to leave my carry-on at the foot of the jet-way as the stow capacity onboard was limited. I thanked the baggage handler as he took my small suitcase, red tag and all.

It was a lovely flight to Charlotte, where we would connect to another flight for our final destination. I dreamt of waves rolling onto the beach. I anticipated the warm breeze restore my dry winter skin. I was all smiles until an unexpected delay on the Charlotte runway narrowed the window of time until our connecting departure. I practiced my yoga breathing as my cell phone app informed me that our next flight was already boarding.

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My husband suggested he wait for our plane-side bags while I made haste to the next gate pleading the case not to close the doors until he arrived. I don’t know what it is about running through airports. It seems as only about 10 percent of lung capacity is available while sprinting with little time. I hyperventilated my way to the connecting gate as the airline agents prepared to close the boarding doors. I was relieved when I saw my husband from afar, briskly walking toward our gate. He was towing only one bag — his.

“Where’s my bag?”

“It wasn’t there,” he said.

“What do you mean it wasn’t there?” I grumbled while listening to the pilot welcome us onboard. Suddenly, my glowing anticipation of our vacation was hijacked by my increasing annoyance that my carry-on luggage went missing. Upon arrival, I filled out a lost luggage claim, and grumpily made my way to our beach destination.

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I tried hard not to be swept away by wrath. Walking the 80-degree sunny beach in jeans and a black wool sweater was fine, I persuaded myself. A bathing suit is overrated. Who needs makeup and under-eye cover-up when I should be one with my exposed facial wrinkles? And why is it that the contents of a 14-by-22-inch bag defines the ability to be happy? I tried to keep my frustrations in check while sand invaded the cuffs of my jeans. I was doing pretty well until my husband suggested I wear his Adidas shorts to dinner.

When the airline informed me my luggage had arrived, I was elated until I realized they delivered the wrong bag. The contents of men's dress pants and starched collared pinstripes were not my style. The absurdity of it all suddenly made me laugh.

I realized how easy it is to become chronically negative and allow a minor inconvenience to hijack joy. Plenty of things can go wrong on any given day. Lost luggage on a vacation may rank above hitting every red light, but there are many occasions where our expectations do not meet reality. Yet, as I felt the warm ocean air kiss my face, I heard my mother’s heavenly reminders that the cup of life is always half full if only we choose to see it that way. “At least it’s not raining,” she would have said.

My frustration could have been the end to this story, but in fact, it ends in immense gratitude. My bag eventually found its way to me, bathing suit enclosed. I called the airline to thank them, and was informed that my bag somehow voyaged to Hartford, Conn. Someone recognized it and found me so many states away. My anger softened in appreciation for all the good fortune despite my stubborn annoyance. Maybe all I really needed were those Adidas shorts after all.

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Anne Marie Romer is one of our regular community contributors.