It was early morning, still dark, and the streets were quiet. That is, until my boyfriend’s voice cut through the December air.
“Are you stressed?” he asked.
“No,” I shot back.
The truth was, I was beyond stressed. I was fuming. After a ten day trip to visit friends and family, we were headed to the metro station to catch a train to the airport for our flight home. To make matters worse, at some point during the trip I had hurt my knee, and so now I had to hobble along dragging my over-sized suitcase behind me.
Adam, not knowing what to do, also fell in behind me (he’d contend it was because he couldn’t keep up with my fast pace). According to my recollection, we were supposed to meet in the entry of the place we were staying at 4:30 a.m. But, after having missed a flight three years earlier, I was paranoid of missing another. So I made up my mind to be waiting by 4:15 a.m. so that we could get a head start. But I didn’t tell Adam. I just assumed he would be early. And why wouldn’t he be?
As you can see, this was already a recipe for disaster. As I waited downstairs, the minutes kept ticking by: 4:17, 4:22, 4:27. There went my hopes of leaving early. But that’s okay, I thought. It still isn’t 4:30 yet; we should still be good. Then 4:31, 4:35, 4:37.
Thoughts raged throughout my head.
Where in the world was he??? Didn’t I impress upon him the importance of getting to the airport on time? Oh no, did he miss his alarm? He’s probably still sleeping!! Oh shoot, what was his room number? Ahh, what am I going to do?!
I started to pace in the lobby, thinking about how I could contact him. We were staying at a non-traditional hotel and so there was no front desk. I was at a loss, and with each passing moment my stress level kept rising.
Finally, at 4:42 he appeared in the stairwell, looked down, and smiled.
“Hey!” he said. “Let me go grab my stuff.”
As he came down the stairs he quickly noticed the “I am going to kill you” look in my eyes.
“Where were you?” I politely, but coldly, asked.
“Oh, I thought we were meeting in the lounge on my floor,” he replied. “I was sitting there, waiting since 4:15.”
What?! We said the ENTRY. THE ENTRY!!
Those were the thoughts rushing through my mind, but I couldn’t speak them. I was too upset, too worried we were going to miss our flight, and too busy walking at lightning speed to make up for lost time.
Needless to say, we made it there with plenty of time to spare. Our flight even ended up being delayed three hours. The extra time gave us a chance to calm down (okay, maybe just me) and talk about what happened. We were only three months into our relationship; so it was a learning moment about how to best communicate and also how to deal with conflict.
I like to have a plan, can get flustered when those plans change, and I tend to sacrifice time and energy in order to be better safe than sorry. On the other hand, Adam is much more laid back, an optimist, and is very quick to forgive when things go wrong as he displayed in the airport.
Incidents like this showed us that, as in love with each other as we were (and still are), we will always have differences that we must navigate. That’s inevitable in a relationship. Instead of closing up and letting myself stew about the mishap, it would have been more productive for me to take a deep breath, accept what happened, and lovingly talk to Adam about my frustrations, so that the two of us could work together to get to the airport faster.
After apologizing for how I acted for the tenth time, he responded with kindness and understanding. He also showed me how he can bring his quick wit and sense of humor into any situation.
“Don’t worry about it, I understand why you were upset” he said. Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he added, “Besides there’s nothing I enjoy more than taking a three-hour nap on the floor of an airport.”
I smiled back at him. The fact that we are different is a big reason why we got together in the first place. With just a few words, he reminded me that we’re on this journey together.
Flickr/ Justin Hofmann