Image used under Creative Commons: The Earth Belongs To You by Love, Sophia.

Yesterday I got amazing news that will change my life in ways I can’t yet fully imagine, thanks to my friend Sara. It’s not the first time Sara has dramatically changed the course of my life. The first time, she actually saved my life. You may remember my last post, where I made reference to the hardest time in my life? THAT time.

THIS time, just yesterday, I was in a bit of a freshly awoken fog, lying in bed in a Carrows parking lot.  I had made a test-run road trip in the Chinook from Oakland to Lompoc for a field producer gig, and I’d decided to switch it up a little from the Walmart I’d stayed at the night before. My cell rang, I saw that it was Sara and picked up. “Heyyyyy!” I answered. “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas!” she chirped. “Whaaaat??” I said, still half asleep and afraid to misinterpret what she meant. “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas! You got your flight benefits!” I burst into tears and said through sobs, “Sara, are you kidding me?!?!?!?” Laughing, she replied, “Nope- you got ‘em!”

She’d mentioned months ago that through her flight attendant benefits, she might be able to add a friend, and that if so, she was choosing me. I was bowled over by the fact that she would want to do that for me, let alone the idea of it working out. She had no idea when she might hear back or when it would take affect if so, so I had no choice but to just think positively, and go on thinking about the round the world (RTW) trip we’d (at the time) decided to take, and put this out of my mind.

But now, I was hearing, and what I heard is that starting in 2012, I will get to fly anywhere (or everywhere!) in the world WITH. UNLIMITED. FREE. FLIGHTS!!! That I will be able to put myself on stand-by lists in advance for flights I’d like to take, or just show up at the airport. That I won’t have to pay for my backpack being checked, or any other fees, and that I would pay next to nothing in the event that I ever wanted to upgrade. It’s staggering. I can’t fully comprehend it. I think there should be a new word created in English to describe how I feel. Elated, excited, stunned, honored, overwhelmed, grateful…all fall short- WAYYYYY short.

In addition to this being a testament to what an incredible friend Sara is, I also think about the chain of events that had to happen for THIS to happen. Sara and I had to meet and become close friends, if not in junior high as we did, then sometime. A few years ago, and many years after we lost touch following our first round of college, my brother had to convince me to look up friends through classmates.com. Sara had to be there and be happy to reconnect. We had to have the kind of friendship that transcends time so that we could essentially pick up where we left off and just fill each other in on what we’d missed.  Sara had to have family members who aren’t already on her benefits, not care as much for travel. And speaking of time, how would this have worked if I were still part of a couple going RTW?

This news is so fresh that I haven’t had a chance to process it and figure out my plan yet, but you can be sure of a few things:

* I, a person who has wanted to do a RTW for over half my life and finally made it a priority to do it (thinking I’d be paying for tickets everywhere!) will absolutely make the most of it!

* Others will benefit somehow from this amazing gift I’ve received.

* I will consider the impact my actions have on the environment.

* I will never be able to thank Sara enough, but I will certainly try.

If you don’t know or haven’t heard me brag enough about Sara, she’s a travel expert that can be found at The Flying Pinto, In Flight Team, and co-hosting the weekly travel podcast she created, The Crew Lounge. Oh, and she’s also one of the most generous supporters of others I know. :)

Can you believe this?! How do you pay amazing gifts forward? Have a great story to share? Tell me about it!

We’re making plans, big plans, for an unlike-any-other adventure…at least for us! We’re not ready to spill all the beans just yet, but suffice it to say it involves passports not bassinets. As crazy as this may make me sound, I’ve grown up with the feeling that I’ve had my older self- the old lady version of me- with me most of my life. The old lady wants great stories for the porch, and encourages me to buck conventions and take risks that will ensure she’ll have them.

Even if you don’t have an old lady or old man, you understand. You’ve probably asked or been asked the hypothetical question that goes something like, “If you found out you only had X amount of time left, what would you do?” The answer for me is two-fold; spend time with loved ones, and travel around the world. The question really worth asking for me then is, what am I waiting for?

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