Things happen in life for a reason. Even if they’re the things that make you vehemently say, “Shit!”
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In anticipation of my trip to Las Vegas to attend the BAM conference and speak on the “Now What? Blogging and Careers at Midlife” panel, I endeavored to pack my suitcase with the utmost care. My style of packing has evolved over the past few months. I used to refer to myself as a ‘contingency packer,’ a woman who packed for every conceivable eventuality known to man. To me, a one week’s trip to Brussels necessitated three sets of clothes for each day, plus several more outfits in case I exercised my prerogative to change my mind. Of course, there’s the issue of shoes. How could I, in good faith and fashion forwardness, wear brown shoes with my blue outfit? I simply had to bring a different pair of shoes for each outfit.
Then, of course, there are those circumstances beyond our control: torrential rains, a sudden Arctic blast (yes, even in Hawaii…it could happen, ya know), an invite to a formal ball, a plague of locusts. I try to anticipate every contingency and pack accordingly. The 50-pound weight limit meant little to me. I’d simply pack a second bag (or a third).
This is in direct contrast to my husband. He can pack for a two-week trip to Europe mere hours before his flight, and he usually does it all in one bag. One bag?!? Who the hell does that? What about the ‘what ifs’ in life? What if the airline loses that one, lone bag? What if your bag is the only one that spontaneously combusts in the cargo hold?
For the flight to Vegas. I chose an ensemble that was smart, chic and comfortable. I was hoping the gate agent would take one look at me and think, “Now there goes a smart, chic and comfortable woman. I think I’ll upgrade her to first class,” then commence with the upgrading. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
The white skinny jeans I wore (with wonderful stretchy fabric that gives) hugged my butt like they were sewn just for me. The burnt orange top with distinctive hints of Mexican flair graced my bosom and the rich hue complemented my complexion. The pumpkin sandals showed off my fresh pedicure and called attention to the demure flowery design painted on each big toe. I was looking good if I say so myself.
My original plan was to finish the outfit with my white cotton three-quarter sleeve sweater with a hem that hung just past my hips. It would have been magnifique. Alas, during my last minute morning frenzy, I couldn’t find that white cotton sweater with the three-quarter sleeves and hem that hung just past my hips. Time was a’wasting, so I hastily reached into my closet and grabbed my oversized tan cloak-like shawl that was big enough to envelop three people. It made for a striking outfit.
On the second leg of my travels from Atlanta to Vegas, I settled in with my jazz-filled iPod Shuffle, a bag of M&Ms and my current read, “Supreme Influence: Change Your Life with the Power of the Language You Use” Pay attention folks; the book is extremely important.
As the grub and booze cart rolled down the aisle, I envisioned myself sipping on a glass of white wine and enjoying the relative comfort (minus when the gentleman in front of me trying with all his might to recline his chair into my lap…) of the flight.
“What would you like to drink,” the flight attendant leaned over and asked me, her smile seemingly glued on her face.
“I’d like white wine, please,” I said as I handed her my complimentary adult beverage voucher.
“Oohhhh, I’m sorry,” she cooed as if talking to an infant, “we’re all out of white. I do have red, though.” Her ensuing perkiness was enough to convince me to go the dark side.
“Okay, red it is.”
As the plane floated along in the sky, I cracked open my Wente Vineyards Merlot, poured half into my cup, took a big gulp (I could tell you I took a dainty sip with my pinkie extended, but that would be a boldfaced lie). Life was good. I turned the page of the book and continued to read. Ten minutes later, life was still good.
Until . . .
The gentleman in front of me happened. He jerked his seat up quickly, causing my tray table to wobble about. It seemed to happen in slow motion. I watched as the little plastic cup tipped over and the deep crimson liquid spilled onto my being. In his defense, he didn’t realize what he had done. But still . . .
I was in shock. The entire cup of red wine spattered down the back of the tray table, down my lower leg and down the front of the tray table into my lap. And there it was. I was now wearing my wine. Remember earlier I told you I was wearing white skinny jeans (let’s not forget they hugged my butt like they were sewn just for me)? White.
I’ll let that sink in for a bit . . . much like the wine on my white pants.
Red wine didn’t coordinate very well with my outfit. I looked like I had just stepped out of a horror movie, the unfortunate victim of a psychopathic ax wielding bandit. Okay, now remember that book I was reading? The power of my language and all? While I admittedly did utter one lone “Shit!”, I gained my composure in a nanosecond and morphed into crisis management mode.
Okay, you and I both know that rushing down the aisle with my tan shawl wrapped haphazardly around my waist, crashing into the bathroom and using cheap paper towels, foamy soap and water was not going to do any good. But hey, you can’t blame a sister for trying. Soda water proved to be of little help as well. My mind began to race. What am I gonna do? What the friggin’ hell am I gonna do?
Then it hit me. My shawl. And then the meaning and reason for me choosing the shawl crept even deeper into my psyche.
There was a reason I couldn’t find my white jacket this morning. There was a reason the shawl stood out like a beacon in a sea of jackets and wraps in my closet. It was inevitable and written in the stars: I was going to spill red wine on myself. When I placed that plastic cup on the tray table, spilling it never occurred to me. But now I believe nothing I could have done would have stopped that eventuality. The shawl was my salvation. In the end, it allowed me to strut through the airport—with red wine stains on my pant leg, on my thigh, in my lap and deep into my lady crotch—with confidence.
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The Valerie of a year ago would likely have cursed like a sailor on a three-day shore leave when the first pea-sized drop of crimson splattered onto her white pants. The Valerie of today handled it with finesse and grace. Perhaps it has something to do with being in midlife…in a place in my life where I don’t care if people look at me and think I had a menstrual cycle oopsie. Wait, who am I kidding? I do care about that. However, I made the conscious decision to respond to the situation, not react. In my mind, I done good. The irony of it all? When the grub and booze cart rolled around a second time, the flight attendant leaned over and sheepishly said, “Ma’am, we actually do have white wine.”
Yeah, shit happens. And then you get over it.
This post originally appeared on Midlife-A-Go-Go.