As the Milwaukee airport sound system clicked off, I could feel the tempers of my fellow passengers begin to flare. This wasn’t just any delay. It was a four hour delay that moved our Boston arrival time from a reasonable 10:00 PM to a very unreasonable 2:00 AM. I was supposed to meet N at the Boston airport where we’d make the three and a half hour drive to Maine. Now with the late arrival, we’d be forced meet at a nearby airport hotel and spend the night.
Normally I’m a flexible traveler, but I’d already woken up at 7:00 AM that morning to fly from Sacramento to Las Vegas and then from Las Vegas to Milwaukee. With this extended layover, it would be another eight hours before I finally reached N. My laptop and Kindle provided ample distraction and frustrated passengers swapped airline horror stories, triggering some much-needed laughter. Eventually, it was time to depart and we wearily made our way through the night sky to Boston. After finally landing at 2:00 AM, I secured my luggage and headed outside to wait for the 24-hour hotel shuttle.
I immediately realized that I’d greatly underestimated the weather. Even with my gloves, scarf, and heavy wool coat, the 24 degree air cut my face like a knife. Thankfully, I’d contacted the hotel in advance and the shuttle was scheduled to arrive in ten minutes. But ten minutes went by, then another ten, and then another. After a few calls, the hotel admitted to forgetting about my pick up. I swayed back and forth in a feeble attempt to generate body heat. I cursed myself for not purchasing ear muffs. I wondered if it was a bad sign that my toes were numb. The driver arrived at the barren airport 30 minutes later and we completed the half mile route to the hotel.
I was so exhausted from the journey that I didn’t have enough energy to speak with the front desk about my awful shuttle experience. N was already asleep in the room, resting for our drive to Maine. I slid my room key into the door and the green light that was supposed to grant me access didn’t flash. Two more attempts produced the same disappointing result. Great. Then the handle unexpectedly turned, the door creaked opened, and I came face to face with a shirtless N. My N. The handsome, masculine, perfect N who I hadn’t seen for over a week. It was still a bone chilling 24 degrees outside, but at that moment, all memory of my miserable 14 hour trip melted away.