As noted in my previous post, my trip to Florida to follow Adam Ant around on his Florida gigs hit a big snag named Irma. On Wednesday, after I received the evacuation notice from my hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, I decided to opt out of the fourth show in Jacksonville and try to get home earlier than Monday evening, figuring that the likelihood of me actually having an airport that was functional on Monday was as likely as me waking up tomorrow looking like Christie Brinkley (i.e. snowball’s chance in hell). So even though my return flight wasn’t within the flight advisory dates, I called my airline and cajoled them to reschedule me to a flight Sunday morning.
Then, the remaining Florida concerts except for Fort Lauderdale were postponed and I said screw it, now I want to get out of here as soon as I can. My new departure date was within the travel advisory so I figured that I wouldn’t have a problem getting an earlier flight. After spending 45 minutes on the phone, I was able to talk to someone who was nice and said she could put me on a flight on Friday night back to Austin. Perfect…Because my other options were: take my rental car as far north as I could and pay through the nose for a one-way rental; or taking a Greyhound or Megabus up to Atlanta and make my friend there host me until I could figure out how to get back to Austin; or find out how hurricane-proof my hotel room was.
So I went to the Fort Lauderdale show and had a blast. Even though there wasn’t an opening act and the theater was 2/3 full, the band put on a great show. I was next to a couple of guys who were up and dancing as much as I was. I ended chatting with one of the guys after the show for awhile and that was awesome because Will, the guitarist for Adam Ant, came out to the front of the theater to sign autographs and take photos. I got my picture taken with him and 1. he’s freaking tall, and 2. I look like I just won the lottery, I’m smiling like a simpleton… He was very gracious with my fangirling (seriously if he ever stumbles on this blog, please come play some shows in Austin with your solo project) and I walked away with a new friend and an awesome photo that I’m not going to share on this blog because I loathe photos of myself even if it’s with a rock god standing next to me.
The next morning (Thursday) security for the hotel was pounding on people’s doors at 8am to remind them of the evacuation order (which sucked for me since I stayed up until 1am drinking in the hotel bar with some of the other guests who wanted one last round). I got packed up and stood on my balcony staring at the beach and it felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend that I wasn’t sure that I would ever see again. I drove through Ft. Lauderdale along A1A trying to imprint what it looked like pre-storm into my mind. And then I jumped on 75, drove across Alligator Alley and up to Tampa. Despite the scare stories about the traffic on the freeways, I managed to get up to Tampa in roughly 3.5 hours. I had the cruise control on 74mph pretty much the whole way. I rolled into Tampa not knowing that my mom was freaking out because she still thought I had a Sunday morning flight and the Orlando airport announced that they were closing at 5pm on Saturday. I had to let her know that I changed my flight and secretly marveled at how lucky I was that I had changed my flight when I did. Anyway, I was safe for a night in Tampa. A woman I had gone to high school with saw my Facebook post and we ended up going to dinner that night (and with the change in the track of the storm, I’m super concerned for her and her boyfriend).
The next day, I drove over to Orlando – again with barely any traffic and pretty much driving 70mph the whole way. I dropped off my rental car and took the shuttle to the airport – which I lovingly described in texts to friends as Hell’s Waiting Room. It was mobbed with panicking people, barking dogs, crying tantrum kids, and the smell of desperation. The Club at MCO lounge was on a 2.5 hour wait list but I lucked out by loitering near a group that vacated a chair relatively soon after I got there. After 2.5 hours, I got a call that there was a vacancy in the club lounge so I hightailed it in there. My flight was delayed so I drank some vodka and texted my mom until my flight boarded. I spent most of the flight thinking of how lucky I was to be able to get out of the path of such a dangerous storm. There was a lot of things that needed to go right for me for it to happen the way it did.
It wasn’t until I walked into the door of my condo that I realized how exhausted I was. And it was sobering to realize that there are thousands of people who were nowhere near as lucky as I was to be able to get all of the pieces to fall into place so I could still see a concert that I was looking so forward to AND be able to evacuate. But I was upset that my hubby seemed unconcerned that I was in a pretty iffy situation for awhile. I mentioned something to him and his response was – I knew that you can handle things so I figured that you didn’t need me to worry about you. And while it’s true that I can handle things like a boss, I still would like to know that I matter enough to worry about, you know? It’s exhausting to always be the one to handle things.
So readers, if you know someone that seems to be cool and collected under pressure and manages to always find solutions to problems, just know that person would likely would appreciate you telling them that you know that it’s tiring to always be the one to hold things together. I don’t know, tell them that they matter enough to worry about every once in awhile. I’ve spent all day today texting and messaging people to let them know that they matter enough to me that I’m worried about their safety during this storm.