Do you ever feel like the gods are working against you? Not in a “I’m supposed to make guacamole for the party but the avocadoes at Sobey’s are like grenades” kinda way. More like in a series of cataclysmic events that leave you slightly unsettled. What could possibly happen next?
A week before leaving for Iceland it started. I dropped my beloved Canon SX120 PowerShot from waist-level. It was still plugged in to my laptop—and subsequently dropped and smashed as I absently picked up said laptop to show Kim a goofball picture I had downloaded of myself wearing my Vanilla Ice concert t-shirt from grade 9 era. The sickening thud was followed by a panicked turning-on of the camera. The sound of the lens opening was like that of a cat being sat on. It made the same guttural sound as it closed. Uh-oh.
At least it wasn’t the laptop. Replacing a camera would be cheaper. But, a week before the trip? All for a stupid candid Vanilla Ice throwback photo? Ugh to Ice Ice Baby.
The next morning our state-of-the-art stainless steel Cuisinart coffee maker showed no signs of life. Nothing. Coffee grounds sat unfiltered, nestled in their paper basket. There were no last throes of life, no indication that this was the end. Just me, standing, staring, slightly exasperated, contemplating the wrath of the instant coffee granules that we had left over from camping versus a dumpy cup of Earl Grey tea.
The morning after that, somewhere around 5am, Kim ran smack into a westbound raccoon en route to work. This was no ordinary collision—normally a run-in with a raccoon would simply result in a lot of guilt for killing such an innocent creature making its way to greener pastures. No, this raccoon was a linebacker—its hefty body was like smacking into a mini Smart car. The Saab needed immediate repair—the oil pan guard thingie and side light panel took the brunt—to the tune of $350.
Then, Friday the 13th, happy to have an evening flight to Reykjavik, Kim and I were anticipating an indulgent sleep-in, lazy coffee in bed from the new Cuisinart, maybe pancakes somewhere around noon. Except…those gods that were against us had a plan B. For anyone following my Facebook feed, you’ll know that my parents were moving to Walkerton. We helped them load two trucks on the Monday and on Wednesday, they had pro movers taking the last of the heavy stuff. I think this was truck load #7 for them. (And I’m not talking pick-up loads—these are 24-footers). Thursday I received a sheepish call from my folks. “Well, looks like we need to get one more truck—there was stuff that didn’t fit. Do you think you guys could help us out Friday morning around 8:30?”
Scratch sleep-in, pancakes and an idle day before flying to Iceland. However, score immense points as daughter of the year for helping with four of the truckloads. And, my mom sent us home with a care package: Montreal smoked meat piled high in croissants.
We spent the dwindling hours before our flight cutting the grass one last time. Kim put another coat of paint on the front door—we were ahead of schedule and leaving four hours before our flight.
But, this would be all too simple. Even though we live a casual 45-minute drive from the airport, on Friday the 13th it would take over three hours. A 4pm collision in the eastbound lanes of the 401, east of Mavis brought traffic to a dead stop.
After a lot of preliminary swearing our minds went in two different directions. I could see planes descending into the airport. Surely we could just ditch the car and run across the sun-bleached fields to the airstrip. If we missed our flight we could be spontaneous and crazy and jump on a flight to Alaska or the Yukon. Maybe Portland, Oregon—I’ve always wanted to go. Our bags were full of fleece, Gore-tex, binoculars, hiking gear and Clif Bars. A sunny, beachy locale would entail a lot of duty free shopping.
Kim was convinced we were going to miss the flight entirely. We’d just get ourselves on the next flight, hopefully the following day, and just drive back home. She resigned herself to the worst case scenario as I balanced our yin and yang with the best case scenario.
As a painful optimist with equal parts realist, I knew we couldn’t miss the flight. It was not how our story was supposed to go—we had booked the flights on March 22nd. We had been dog-earing our Iceland Lonely Planet since August of 2012 when we were first looking at flights (but when Iceland Air fares jumped from $550 to $1,200 each, we decided to buy a house instead).
As we inched past the twisted vehicle and jackknifed tractor trailer, our shallow thoughts of missing out on our flights were surpassed by gratefulness to be alive—and not part of the wreckage. (We later learned that the driver of the truck was airlifted from the collision site).
However, now that we were in the clear and resuming normal highway speeds after traveling just 8km in an hour, we didn’t have the time or guts to try and park at our usual cheapie Park n’ Fly. Waiting for a shuttle would have left us behind closed gates, for sure.
So, Kim pulled into a tight spot on P2 at the Toronto Airport parking lot. What’s another $297.00? My optimistic arithmetic resolved that, really, if we just divided the $297 by two, and added that to the $600 flights we nabbed in March, we were still flying to Iceland for $750—which was way cheaper than what we considered spending the previous fall.
We made the flight—with enough time to chug two airport pints (add another $20 to that $750 arithmetic). As I bit into a stiff airline baguette with ham and cheese I felt the bonding on my retainer lift and the wire jump out of alignment. Did this not already happen to me in Egypt?
Little did we know our greatest drama was about to unfold once we arrived in Iceland.