A Fall Weekend in Nantucket (and A Story of Grace)
Around this time a year ago, I was heading to Nantucket, the tiny island off the coast of Massachussetts. I went for Hogtoberfest, a 2-day food festival that was (according to the invite) "A Weekend Dedicated to All Things Pig, Cooking, and Beer." Why not?! I like all of these things but I was especially excited to visit Nantucket, which, in my mind, was impossibly dreamy. I pictured sailboats, lighthouses, and weatherworn fishing cottages, oysters and lobsters and seafood (yes, please!), and couples strolling along cobblestoned streets wearing striped shirts, sweaters casually draped around their shoulders. (Think: Ralph Lauren ad.) I imagined rows of gray-shingled houses with perfect white trim, gigantic hydrangea bushes, and winding bike paths along the coast. After visiting, I have to say: my idea of the place was pretty accurate. Nantucket is ridiculously charming.
Hogtoberfest was the brainchild of Chef Michael LaScola, of American Seasons (one of Nantucket's best restaurants), and his friend Matt Jennings of Farmstead, Inc., in Providence, R.I. Both diehard pork-lovers, the two chefs wanted to throw an annual pig-themed dinner that would also serve as a platform to educate people about sustainable farming and nose-to-tail eating. They hosted their first Hogtoberfest in 2008 and each year it's gotten bigger and better. This year (October 18-20, 2013) will be the fifth iteration of the event.
In between the pig-butchering demo, beer and charcuterie tastings, and the Whole Hog Dinner (I wrote about the experience here...just scroll down to my name), I burned calories by exploring the island. I took a historical walking tour through the old town, walked along the beach near the Brant Point Lighthouse, and biked out to the deserted Madaket beach on the western tip of the island to watch the sunset (a must-do!). I took a taxi ride out to Siasconset, a gorgeous little artists' colony full of rose-covered bungalows on the eastern end of the island. The weather was perfect and I fell madly in love with the place.
When I think back about that weekend, I have such fond memories, but there's one story in particular I'll never forget...
I was scheduled to fly to Nantucket with a connection Boston, where I would hop onto an 8-seater Cape Air plane for the 40-minute flight to the island. Unfortunately, my flight from NYC was so delayed that by the time I arrived into Boston, there were no more flights leaving to Nantucket that evening. Luckily they were able to rebook me on an early morning flight and I was given a hotel voucher. (Sidenote: unwilling to waste time at an airport hotel, I took the T into Boston for a late dinner at the amazing Island Creek Oyster Bar. I ate solo at the bar and ended up having some of the best oysters of my life along with delicous bubbly from the Loire Valley. I also made some new friends while I was there, but I digress...)
The next morning, I woke up super-early to catch the first flight over to Nantucket. After my late night, I was a little bleary-eyed going through security. I took out my laptop and put it in a bin, took off my shoes and jacket, took out my carry-on toiletries, etc. Somehow in the hustle and bustle of grabbing all of my stuff, I never picked up my laptop. I went to my gate, got some coffee, and hopped on the plane and never once realized that my laptop wasn't in my bag.
When I arrived on the island, I hopped in a cab and looked in my bag for the address of my hotel. I had placed my itinerary in my laptop case which – I suddenly realized, was not in my bag. My heart stopped. You know those moments where you feel as though a ton of bricks hits your chest, and you suddenly can't breathe? Well, that was me at that moment. My mind raced through the possibilities: had someone stolen it from my bag? Had I left it charging back at the hotel? I realized that the last time I had seen it was at security, when I placed it in the bin. I couldn't believe that I had forgotten to pick it back up!! I was devestated for a variety of reasons: 1) it was a new Macbook Air and not cheap to replace 2) it was a gift from my husband 3) all of my work and photos were on the laptop (and I hadn't recently backed any of it up and 4) I needed my laptop that weekend to finish writing a story for a magazine!
I fought back tears as I told the cab driver what happened. She was really nice and said, "Go in and talk to Cape Air - see if they can reach someone at security in the Boston airport. I'll wait for you." I thanked her, left my luggage in the car and bolted back into the tiny Nantucket airport. I must have looked like a crazed woman running up to the Cape Air desk. I explained to them what happened and they said they couldn't reach anyone in security, and that I should go talk to security at their airport. I ran over there, thinking all the while, "There's no way I'll ever see my laptop again." I left a notebook on a plane years ago, and there was an endless chain of numbers and emails to contact, with no humans on the other end. Needless to say, I never got my notebook back.
I talked to the head of security and told him my story, and asked if he could call the Boston security. He didn't look hopeful, but he said he would call. He walked away and I waited for what seemed like an hour. (It was probably 2 minutes.) I prayed – fervently – at that moment. "Lord, I know I messed up. But I'm asking for a miracle here. Please help me somehow get this laptop back. I know this is literally an impossibility, but I believe that you can do this. Please show me grace." I prayed and watched the man on the phone from a distance, trying to read his facial expressions. He finally walked back to me with a complete poker face and said, "Well, they have it." I burst into tears just hearing this incredible news. He continued, "But someone needs to go pick it up in the next 10 minutes or it's going to be send to Lost & Found. And to be honest, if it goes there, you'll probably never see it again." He said I should see if someone from Cape Air in Boston could go to security and pick it up for me. I thanked him profusely and sprinted back to Cape Air. (At this point I really looked like a crazed woman, running and crying, back and forth between desks!)
I talked to the Cape Air people and they said they'd do their best to help, but couldn't guarantee anything, as it's not their job to recover items left in security. I prayed again, while the woman went into her office to make a phone call. She came back and said to wait a few minutes - the people in Boston were going to see if anyone was available to run down to security. I paced and prayed, prayed and paced. Finally she got a call and motioned me back over. "I've got good news," she said with a smile. "One of our colleagues from Cape Air went to security, picked up your laptop, and they are putting it on the next flight to Nantucket. It should be here in an hour and a half." She paused, and added, "It's really your lucky day. I've never heard of anything like this happening."
I could have jumped over the counter and hugged the woman. I was incredulous. Half an hour before I was convinced that I'd never see my computer again, and suddenly I was being told that it was not only found - i.e. it wasn't stolen or 'misplaced' in security - but that Cape Air was literally flying it out to me that same day?!?!?! I was bowled away by grace at that moment. Just flat-out amazed that God was good enough to answer a desperate prayer about a matter that, in the grand scheme of things He deals with, was not that big a deal. But it was a big pretty huge deal to me at that moment, and I was grateful.
I thanked the woman again and again, and she said she'd call me when the laptop arrived. I headed back to the cab (which, incredibly, was still waiting for me) and we drove to my hotel. I told the cab-driver the entire story and she was equally amazed. Sure enough, I got a call a couple hours later that they had the computer and I headed back to the airport to pick it up. That story still astounds me: the fact that I was able recover the laptop that I thought I'd never see again, finish my article, enjoy my weekend.
A year later, I still have my laptop (I've been extra cautious every time I go through airport security!). It's been with me through countless articles, blog posts, and late nights. Looking back on the situation, I'm grateful not only to God for answered prayers, but to the amazing people at the airport who went above and beyond to help me. It's encouraging in those moments to meet good-hearted people who will go the extra mile for a complete stranger. I hope I can be that kind of person as well.