Little cousin Ella is a senior this year, and also happens to be an awesome swimmer. Since I tried to impersonate an aquatic athlete for a few years, I've always felt we shared a unique bond about the sport. Unfortunately, I've never been able to see her compete until this year. Oh wait... I still haven't seen her compete. More on that later.
I decided this being her last year I would make it to see a meet. It's a winter sport and with the holidays and meets being held generally during the week, there's never a convenient time to head home to see her. All times being equally bad, I decided I'd go to her last home dual meet, a.k.a. Senior Night. This happened to be on a Thursday night, and me being short on vacation, I took an early flight through Phoenix to get there on time.
I knew when I booked the flight that I couldn't afford any delays due to weather or otherwise, but I figured once I was off the ground with my connection out of Phoenix then I was good to go. But 30 minutes into the flight to Indy, the captain came over the PA and said the backup pressurization system malfunctioned, leaving us with only the primary system. So... we had to turn around.
Even worse, we had to turn around, descend, and fly with the landing gear down to burn off enough fuel to land therefore limiting our time in holding. But flying with the gear down also means slow. And loud. Fun. Meanwhile I'm starting to go through the timeline in my mind. Half hour back, change planes quick, OK. I can probably afford a 2-hour hit to my schedule and still make it in time. Particularly with Ella's big race (backstroke) being towards the end.
Unfortunately once over Phoenix, we end up having to air taxi anyway. All said and done, we were in the air about 90 minutes to get right back where we started. To the airline's credit, they did get us moved onto a new plane and off again quickly once we returned. But with a 2 1/2 hour hit to my tight schedule.
And to make matters worse, I went with the cheap rent-a-car place, which is, cheaply, located at the old airport in the opposite direction as the meet. So we land in Indy, I sprint through the airport, call the shuttle, then have to ride in the van the wrong way. Only to have the slowest car counter guy explain all the extra services they offer. No thanks, Carl.
Finally, car keys in hand, I head down the road to Martinsville... Only to arrive not 10 minutes after Ella's last race. Mega Bummer. But at least there was no school the next day, so I got to stick around and have lunch with the Pauls and ride back up to Cass County with Grandma, which was fun.
So sorry I missed you, Ella, but I'm super proud of you anyway. Even for the short time I was around the pool, it was obvious how much all of her teammates and coaches respected and appreciated her. She is a special person, I know. Just wish I could be around more to see. She has also decided to attend Butler next year, a true relief as the other finalist was DePauw. I know you made the right decision, El. Pics! And a GIF!