Let’s side trip to the Liberty Bell I catch my breath and come to a screeching halt at the end of the terminal as I look up at the boarding sign only to see the most depressing words of my entire life: Brussels. I had just run through five terminals at 10 p.m., only to find out that I had missed my international flight. My clothes felt sticky from the small sweat I had broken and the burning in my throat was unbearable. I could now see the rest of my family catching up as they came around the corner. They didn’t yet know the bad news and I didn’t want to have to tell them either. First, let me back up and say that growing up with one parent from America, and one parent from Europe, my younger sister, Hilary, and I were naturally accustomed to traveling halfway across the world and had been doing it since infancy. We were about to take our biennial trip to Europe and I was looking forward to adding Spain onto “my list of places I had never been.” We had managed to get to the airport on time, a first for the Johnson family, and we travel a lot. The day of our trip is always chaotic and my mother is usually going off on my father, and my father, growing increasingly frustrated ends up telling my sister and I to load the luggage into the van and wait there. My father is one of the slowest people I have ever met, with no regards to time whatsoever. We’ll be waiting in the car and come time to leave, we’ll find him packing a suitcase, fiddling with the computer and once, even taking a shower. My mother, an incessant planner and organizer, is always in a tizzy excited about the trip, but driving us all nearly to the edge. When we finally do
get on the road she is constantly commenting on how bad the traffic is or how we should have left sooner because weâ€™re clearly not going to make it. If my parentâ€™s ever get a divorce, it will be because of the drive to the airport. When we arrived at the airport in Birmingham earlier that afternoon, I could feel the anticipation bubbling as we awaited to start our vacation to England and Spain. So far, our trip was going surprisingly well, too well. When it came time to board, we were still waiting. Just as I began to grow irritated, the loudspeakers announced that our flight was going to be delayed. Great. I was already tired of waiting and I had the feeling that this was the start of a very long trip. After a few more hours of waiting, we finally boarded and took off for Philadelphia. For two hours I fidgeted in my seat, but it seemed more like 12. As soon as the plane touched down, we jumped off and started running. We had arrived in terminal F and were told we had to get through five terminals to arrive in terminal A, all of which had to somehow happen within the span of about a half hour. I volunteered to run ahead with the other group trying to make their flight. As the others peeled off as we approached their gate, I was forced to carry on alone, unsure of what would happen when I got to our gate. When I did, a wave of excitement hit me as I saw lots of people standing in line. It was only a matter of moments until I realized that the boarding sign read Brussels and we had just missed our flight.
There I was, sweaty, tired, and altogether irritable. This was not a part of the plan. As a borderline OCD, type A freak, it’s very hard for me to “let it go.” I have to be in control. It’s not that I want to be, I have to be and this kink in the plan was certainly not making it any easier. My mother, who I’m convinced could run a small country, got on the phone with our travel agent and managed to get the last four seats on the next flight. After getting some food in our systems, we planned out our next order of business, trying to get our luggage back while booking a hotel to stay the night. Needless to say, the night did not get any better. We were refused our bags as they had become airport property for the night and just as we were about to give up on finding an empty hotel room, we booked the last two rooms of a Holiday Inn Express. By now, we’re almost at the point of delirium as I hear Hilary say, “well since we’ve got a whole day tomorrow, let’s side trip to the Liberty Bell!” We laugh as it clearly had to be a joke, but a few moments later I can see that she is serious. The next day, we head back to the airport to check in. With six hours left to spare, we decide to head down to the train station and make our way into central Philly. When I step out into the sun, it is hot and busy. There are crowds of people everywhere. We walk down several blocks before I see a large line forming for the viewing of the bell. As I get inside and see the bell, it suddenly hits me. “I might have missed this if we had gotten on that flight.” Standing before me is a small
looking bell, weathered with age, but majestic nonetheless. On it, I read, â€œProclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." I laughed inside as I realized that it was only fitting to be here at this very moment when Independence Day was a mere seven days from now. Traveling has always been important to me; it is something I have grown up knowing. While going to Europe was certainly an exciting trip, the jaunt to the Liberty Bell, was one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had. I was able to overlook my need to be in control when things donâ€™t go my way and seeing what comes out of it. I got to see a part of history I might have overlooked if I had let the situation get the best of me. That moment was so unexpected. Not only did I learn a lot about myself, I learned how to enjoy letting go and enjoying just exactly how life might surprise you.