Hello and Merry Christmas 2021!
It’s time: Alice’s Annual Holiday Message and Update. I’ve fallen way behind on my blog and this letter is always my opportunity to begin to get consistent in my writing, again. Take a seat, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and kickback. Let’s catch up!
If 2020 was the season (year!) of the pause, then 2021 was the acceleration back to full Alice Rothbauer 150% speed and then some.
As I look back over the weeks and months on my Google calendar for 2021, it’s FULL of celebrations and new beginnings and truly reflects the theme I claimed back at the beginning of the year, “Abundant and Authentic Joy”.
On April 1st, we welcomed the most perfect of all grandchildren, Haven Rachel, and we’ve spent the past eight months building frequent flyer miles between Florida and Wisconsin.
The end of July brought me and Bill across the 30-years of marriage line and while the pearl is the traditional symbol of this celebration, we decided to fix and upgrade our pool and hot tub and add a gym to our garage.
As we rolled into the fall, the wedding that was on hold for a year and a half finally got a new date on the calendar, October 30th, just one day after my 50th birthday. It was the perfect day full of my favorite people and of course, CAKE and more CAKE. Finally, I have lots of pictures with Jake smiling and Katie got to wear her most beautiful dress (with pockets) TWICE.
Sprinkled in between all of our celebrations were four new Rothbauer businesses, more on that later, yet what I’m going to share in this letter is a story that happened in early October while Bill and I were traveling to San Diego to visit Isabelle.
It began with a burger, a Smash Burger to be exact. Are you familiar? It’s not a common chain in the Florida area. We have BurgerFi and Five Guys for your higher-end burgers and when we’re out west, In-N-Out Burger. But Smash Burger just happens to have a restaurant in the DWF International Airport. On our trip west, we missed this detail and Bill had to settle for a $10 Big Mac, but on the way home, he hoped to get his chance. He had heard it was at the top of the Burger Food Pyramid and leaving on the first flight out of San Diego he had all the stomach space needed to go BIG.
We landed in Dallas around noon, about an hour before our connecting flight departed. We deplaned and headed to Terminal C. Once we got to our new gate, I settled in to wait and Bill ventured off for his much-anticipated lunch.
About fifteen minutes passed and the gate agent started to call the first groups to board. We were in group seven, and I knew Bill had his phone with the American app and e-ticket. The plane to Sarasota was on the smaller side and boarding seemed to speed by really quickly, but I just slid to the back of the line and waited for Bill. I had his suitcase and decided to NOT be that nagging wife and call to ask where he was and if he knew our flight was boarding. He always tells me he knows everything.
Suddenly, the gate agent turns to me and says, “you have 14 seconds, are you going to get on the plane without your husband?”
“No! WHAT!!!! WAIT!!! Let me call him, he’s just getting lunch.”
Five, four, three, two, one. “I’m sorry, the flight is closed.”
No! Please, he’s just a couple of minutes away. I dial Bill and yell “RUN!!!!” Too late. She’s gone, down the flight deck onto the plane.
Before Bill can even return, three additional passengers for this flight arrive. Betty from Bradenton on an assist cart that delays her, and Emily and John from SLC on their way to Sarasota to visit their children and grandchildren. They were stuck on the tarmac for both takeoff and landing, causing their delay.
After John bangs on the gate door, he turns and says, “The next flight to Sarasota is at 6am TOMORROW!”
Bill returns and now five of us plead with the staff to let us on the plane, still sitting on the runway, mocking us through the window. Nope, go to D24 for rebooking.
Have you ever been swept into a river current and the only way to survive was to surrender? I was in the river for sure, but I was going to find a way home TODAY.
For the second time in our marriage, Bill says he’s sorry. I gracefully accept, no tears, no screaming, just pocketing this ‘get out of jail free card’ for my future infractions or large Amazon deliveries.
The five of us make our way to D24 and find ourselves lined up with three agents looking for our best options to get to Sarasota. Stand-by to Charlotte and maybe back to SRQ tonight, the flight in the morning with an overnight stay in Dallas. OR, in a flash of inspiration, a flight back to Tampa where we can all Uber back to Sarasota together. Who’s in? Can the five of us make our own Amazing Race team and go for it? We’re strangers to each other. Can we come together or have the last eighteen months made strangers dangerous and uncertainty avoided at all costs?
My heart told me this plan could work and I used my 25 years of sales experience to enroll them in my vision of getting home tonight! We promised not to leave anyone behind.
We took the leap and got ticketed for a stand-by flight back to Tampa with a 3:30pm departure. We were getting home tonight, I prayed. In a swing back on the pendulum of good luck, we all got on the flight and Bill even got upgraded to first class. I earned a second ‘get out of jail free card’ when he failed to give me his seat, even though he made us miss the first flight. Honestly, I was just glad five other people didn’t show up that day. John got us an Uber to the Sarasota airport, and we split the $100 fare. Just four hours off schedule, we pulled into our driveway in Nokomis.
We likely all have interesting travel or airport stories, so why did I share my story? First, I needed to document this for the marriage files in case Bill conveniently forgets the exact details, and second, in those hours of waiting for the next flight, sitting by myself in my economy seat, of riding in an Uber for an hour, I had to look for the lessons and the joy.
#1 We are on the same team. In our quest to get home, the five of us ignored all the ways the world has worked to divide us. We didn’t ask each other for our political views or medical status report, we trusted each other and said let’s do this! By foot, by plane, and by automobile if necessary!
#2 Trust that you’ll find the right people for your journey at the right time. I live by the motto, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I also know that sometimes I choose, and other times I’m on the accepting side of those three categories. Perhaps Betty, John, and Emily came into my life to help me find my way home and also so I didn’t commit murder at the DFW airport.
#3 Believe in forgiveness. In the last year, I’ve had to forgive, and I’ve asked for forgiveness many times. Aren’t we doing the best we can? Bill didn’t wake up on October 5th and plan a way for us to miss our flight. We rarely see what’s behind the curtain to what’s happening in people’s lives, yet it’s easy to judge based on a small slice of what we see or hear. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. Also don’t trust the airline apps, check the screen at your gate!
#4 See the people around you. Now back to Haven. Being a new Grammy brings me joy in so many ways, but it is Haven’s unwavering stare into my eyes and mine back into hers that is my favorite. There is no awkwardness or shyness, just love and curiosity, followed by reaching up to touch my face and/or tug on my hair. Human contact is as important as oxygen and only in its absence have I really come to appreciate it. There are a few hills that I’ll die on and this is one. No Metaverse for me. I need my people.
#5 Be ready to reimagine your life. I mentioned earlier that there are four new businesses operating out of 309 Dolphin Shores. The lesson of COVID for me: diversify and don’t waste time doing what you’re not passionate about. I’m out of space, but I’ll end with this. Light your flame and let it burn. Love and hugs, Alice