LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the tag “hope”

Bienvenido a Cuba

CubaColors

Proximity has zero bearing. Less than an hour flight from Miami catapults us backward 50-plus years. On the exterior of the tiny Cienfuegos Airport, a bright blue BIENVENIDO sign beckons.

I possess a Visa solely as part of an approved People to People Program. Daily exchanges to include: mingling with artists, vocalists, musicians (including members from the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club!!), dancers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, spiritual leaders, historians, teachers, and students.

Being here as a U.S. citizen leaves me both awed by opportunity — yet pondering whether my coming is somehow…unpatriotic.

From a bureaucratic standpoint, our welcome is somewhat subdued. Neither U.S. bank-issued credit nor ATM cards are accepted. We knew this before we came. Cash in hand, we pay a 10% commission to change dollars into CUCs at a rate of 1/1. This is not a bargain shopper’s destination. Cellular service doesn’t exist for those with U.S. carriers, and internet is only available in some 5-star Havana hotels at speeds slower than our modem days.

Our Cuban guide shares that, up until a few years ago, a local would be sentenced up to four years in prison if caught using internet in his or her home. He laughs, referring to our online shopping as folklore. “Cubans can’t imagine paying for something on a screen and having it actually show up on our doorsteps. Forget about returning it and getting a refund!” Satellite TV is also forbidden. Some people have illegal hookups but know they could face hefty fines if the authorities learn of these.

No one in our 22-person group minds. We didn’t come to Cuba to bury our noses in gadgets. We came to experience the contagious verve of the people…

We step onto crumbling cobblestone roads and into another century. Surprisingly well-preserved American made (and Russian overhauled) vintage cars roar all about. Vibrant colors and zippy music tantalize our senses. Even standing in place, the locals sway to a beat I’m convinced is part of their DNA.

From Cienfuegos to Havana, with stops in Trinidad and stunning beaches along the way, I admire close-knit families, communities, and a refreshing enthusiasm from school children to the elderly. The hope sparkling in their eyes touches my soul in a way I struggle to adequately articulate.

I’m just an ordinary girl — with extraordinary freedoms, privileges, and conveniences I need never question. Gratitude and humility flood my heart.

As we make our way to Havana’s airport the last day, our gregarious guide describes the tedious departure process, adding that clients ask him what the airport is like on the other side of immigration. Are there shops? Restaurants? He shrugs. “Well, maybe one of you will be kind enough to send an email when you get home and tell me because I’ve never been…”

🌎 ♥ 🌎

♥ I dedicate this post to my dear friend & colleague, Maria, who left her beautiful island in the second grade and dreams of returning one day soon… ♥

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Somehow… I’m Enough

Wedding fif

Celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary recently, someone asked, “Did you guys ever think you’d make it this far?”

As a flight attendant/pilot couple, we’re well aware our odds of marital success are lower than the dismal average. So we take pride rather than offense when such questions arise. But my lungs deflated when my husband replied, “Personally, I can’t believe she didn’t bail the second I started flapping my jaws about my past.”

I forced a smile. But for someone from a cohesive family, including parents who will celebrate their 52nd anniversary next month, enduring a childhood rooted in abandonment and abuse is anguish I will forever struggle to comprehend.

* * *

Mothers are supposed to hurl themselves in front of speeding trains if it means saving their children — right??? But what if you’re a mistake, whisked from your birth mother to an adoptive mother who subsequently opts for “children of her own,” leaving you in the hands of a broken man when you’re just seven? And what if this sole parent turns to the bottle to satiate his anger and to you with raging fists when liquor fails?

My husband needn’t ponder — this was his childhood. And the hardship didn’t end there.

As is frequently the case, the booze triumphed and rendered him an orphan at twenty-three. He pursued his flying dream relentlessly, but the major airlines required a medical history he lacked. In searching for this, he discovered a clerical error: His birth name had been left visible in the adoption records — a unique one, courtesy of his Czechoslovakian mother.

He was twenty-six when he found her. Living with a man in his early thirties, she was terrified that the sudden appearance of her secret son might result in yet another failed romance. After meeting him, she interacted sporadically before vanishing again. As a parting gift, however, she shared his father’s identity —  and the uncanny addendum: He was also an airline pilot!

Optimism skyrocketing, he couldn’t wait to meet his genetic blueprint. Unfortunately, their relationship was doomed from the git-go. Dad was married to a younger woman who couldn’t stomach my husband’s existence — forget subjecting her pre-teen children to such a scandal.

* * *

I’m ashamed to admit, the first time he told me his (less cheeky) version of the story, I quickly located my nearest exit. Don’t get me wrong, I was smitten from the start. He was (and is) my bona fide flyboy in shining armor — and yet?? Even now, in those unguarded moments when I spy a darkness in his eyes I can’t seem to brighten, inadequacy looms:

What if I make a mess of the love he’s gone a lifetime without

Letting him down like countless others?

What if I inadvertently poke holes in an already battered soul

Because my heart is too small?

What if I’m not worthy of the gem that he is?

💞

Then he pulls me into his resilient embrace

Eclipsing words

Halting time

Heartbeats melding

Thumping a tune of

Perpetual devotion

And I know

Somehow… 

I’m enough

* * *

♥ I dedicate this to every person struggling with family or abandonment issuesparticularly during the Holiday Season. I know how hard it is to open your hearts and let another in, but please know that what you’ve endured doesn’t define you. You prove this time and again with your steadfast attitudes and successes. YOU are precious gifts, inspiring others to overcome obstacles while finding the courage to forgive and trust again. And I, for one, am oh-so-grateful for your presence on this earth! xoxo ♥

Redefining Happy

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The greatest privilege of being a flight attendant is crossing paths with passengers who completely transform your day life…

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Born three months early and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Jon’s future appeared hopeless. The doctors told his parents that his brain’s frontal lobe deformation was such that he’d likely never be more than a vegetable.

They were wrong.

Jon rolled down the jetway in a motorized wheelchair, which allowed him to stand upright, looking like Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man movie. His megawatt smile and larger-than-life personality swiftly amplified my superhero impression. When I asked where he was headed, he proudly informed me that he’d been selected as one of only seventy college students nationwide to participate in a five-day leadership conference. He’d be giving several motivational speeches.

“I love talking. Put a tree in front of me, and I’ll talk to it.” He laughed. “My plan, once I get my master’s, is to be a motivational speaker. I’ve already produced a few short films, and I’m writing a book.”

“What’s it about?” I asked, thinking I had a fairly good idea.

“It’s about how the definition of happy is completely inaccurate,” he said, upending my presumption. “Happiness isn’t a single emotion. It’s the ability to appreciate all emotional states, learning and growing from both positive and negative experiences. People buy all these self-help books on how to be happy when they really just need to constructively connect with the world around them. Happiness isn’t an adjective — it’s a verb.”

“Impressive wisdom coming from a college kid.” I winked.

“Well, I wasn’t always so smart.” He fidgeted with his cell phone. “In high school I got a little depressed, focusing on all the stuff I couldn’t do. Fortunately, my mom is a very smart lady. She let me wallow in self-pity exactly three days before dragging me out to visit a kid born with my same condition. There I was, staring into the eyes of a boy roughly my age, except he can’t move, can’t speak, can’t feed himself — nothing. He wasn’t as lucky as me!”

I nodded, fingernails sinking into my palms to keep the tears at bay.

“Anyway, like I was saying,” he continued, “happiness boils down to how you choose to interact with the world. A perfect example occurred just this morning coming through security. When the TSA spoke to my travel assistant, their tone was totally normal. But when they turned to me, their voices slowed and shot up several decibels, as if they were speaking to a kindergartener. Was I going to let that ruin my day? No way, Jose! I started joking around with them until they were clutching their bellies. By the time they finished scanning all my metal parts, I’m pretty sure they saw me as someone not all that different from themselves.”

He shrugged. “And that’s my secret to happiness. When others treat me with indifference or disrespect, I surprise them with a story, a joke — whatever I think is going to dispel the negative cloud the quickest. Most people are so accustomed to confrontation, they don’t even know how to process this. Then, something shifts, and their entire disposition changes. That’s super cool to watch.” His smile illuminated the cabin.

“You’d make a great flight attendant.”

His eyes lit up. “I’d even sing!”

Life is a Painting…Enjoy the Brushstrokes

 

Hello, Flyboy

Please Welcome Luggage Lady’s First-ever Guest Blogger:  Airline captain, home remodeler, chef, adventure planner, & co-seeker of meaningful existence — my husband.

 

🌻🌻🌻

Why do we walk life’s slippery steps?

We will surely skid into the abyss

Life continues its incessant attempt at overwhelming us

Unfriendliness

Hopelessness

Sorrow

24-hour news

Day in, day out repetitiveness

Surely we must concede

Cower

Surrender

***

A bright spot in your day

A friendly gesture

A wife’s smile

A purr or lick from your family pet

A fantastic sunrise

Sunset

Your favorite song on the radio

A heartfelt laugh

A please

A thank you

Sincerity

Lifelong friends

A family that has your back

A joke you’ve heard a hundred times and still enjoy

A hero’s story

A good book

A day at the movies

Love

***

When you look at a painting

Do you study the miniscule imperfections

Or just relish the artist’s expression?

As with art, so is life

There are many more positives in this world than negatives

The question is this:

Which would you rather focus on?

Life is a Painting…Enjoy the Brushstrokes

🌻🌻🌻

Dedicated to my Dear Friend at sirenatales.wordpress.com

Another Chance

 

Before-Twilight-Lugage-Lady-Blog

Orange fiery bursts

Dance uninhibited across the western horizon

Rose and lavender clouds

Splay against the sky’s blank canvas

Another day history

Hopes heightened

Dreams cultivated

Friendships formed

Lives altered

As the light fades

An intangible promise prevails

Another sunset

Another chance

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