“she’s not going to Ohio”

A snowstorm, three connecting flights, and an 18 year old girl with a ticket to Africa.

It was finally Wednesday, and I was up at 6am packing. Instead of leaving for the airport with lots of time to spare as one normally does, I had decided the night before to give in once more to my climbing addiction and get in a final session before my trip. This required some extra planning, and on top of that a blizzard had suddenly hit DC. I’d packed up my backpack to the brim with only the essentials: my camera, water bottle, laptop, and plane snacks. That and one carry on suitcase, and I was good to go. Dressed in my climbing clothes, and no coat (because I wouldn’t be needing one in Sierra Leone) I headed to the rock climbing gym, in the thick of snow. The gym had delayed their opening time a few hours that morning, due to the snow, so when I got there it was beautifully empty. We climbed for around three hours, a little more than anticipated as my flight had got pushed back for weather reasons. After a quick shower to de-chalk, I was off to the airport, wet hair, no coat, and with a rising fear that I wouldn’t make my first connecting flight.

After many hours of listening to announcements about delayed and cancelled flights, I finally handed over my boarding pass to be scanned, the lady behind me peering over my shoulder. I guess she must have misread my ticket, but suddenly lit up with excitement at the coincidence that we were both going to Ohio after Atlanta. The women who’d just scanned my ticket glanced up at us with a disapproving glare, as if that extra sentence monumentally made her job harder, holding up the line by an unacceptable two seconds. Grabbing my passport, she affirmed the indisputable reality of my destination to those behind me: “oh, and she is not going to Ohio.”

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