It’s 1:07 a.m. on a Tuesday and I’m waiting for a delivery. The Roadie map shows it’s nearly to Berea now and there is absolutely no way I’ll be able to sleep until it gets here.

Because I’ve been waiting for eight days.

Before this block of time started, I prided myself on the idea that I have a healthy relationship with stuff. I don’t consider myself a voracious consumer. I don’t feel my identity is too deeply linked to what I own — or don’t own.

But I’ll tell you one thing: these last eight days have made me reconsider all of that. It turns out I really, really want this delivery to get here. So I can sleep, a). But so I can write again, b), and, overall, function properly, c).

See, I went to Edmonton last week to visit my little brother Matthew and sis-in-law Jennie. I hadn’t been to see them in more than four years, and we’d long ago vowed to make Edmonton the destination for Christmas 2021. Obviously, we had no idea we would be blasted by Omicron when we made the decision but even when that struck, I decided to stick to my plan. First off, 89 percent of Albertans over the age of 12 are vaccinated. And second, Alberta, which has a population of 4.37 million people, has lost 3,310 of its citizens to Covid-19. Very sad, yes, but a fraction compared to Kentucky, at nearly 12,300. Incidentally, Kentucky has a population of 4.47 million.

The fact is, I felt a lot safer there than here.

I just had to get there first.

As expected, the travel was not without its bumps. A delay in Atlanta meant I had to unexpectedly sleep in Calgary for the night. The next (early) morning, our flight didn’t have a captain, causing a further delay.

But finally, I arrived in Edmonton.

My suitcase, on the other hand, did not.

Packing for a five-day trip is usually a pretty simple affair. But couple that trip with Christmas presents and the possibility (though remote) that I might have to quarantine before coming back home complicated things.

So, I checked a very large bag.

When the bag didn’t arrive, I didn’t panic much. I made a claim at baggage services and traipsed into -37 degree weather to meet my perfect brother, who was waiting for me in passenger pickup (one of the definitions of being a Kaprowy is you don’t pay for parking at the airport). The day progressed with me expecting an update at any minute.

But the phone stayed silent and the website they’d directed me to showed no updates.

Two days later, it was time to call the airline.

I’m not sure how much time you’ve spent on hold with an airline in the thick of a giant pandemic surge, but I can tell you that I have now, cumulatively, spent 14 hours.

I won’t be boring and complain it was tedious. But I will say that when someone did finally answer the phone, I was aware I reeked of desperation. See, as I waited on hold, I thought of every single item I had packed in that bag and how I was going to mourn its loss.

My biggest regret was this: at the last minute, I had packed bourbon, thinking it would be a big treat for an Edmontonian and his friends to receive a bottle of small batch.

Turns out, but bottles of bourbon can break if dropped. Or crack if subjected to -37 degree weather.

The amount of time I have spent worrying about this bourbon decision far exceeds the amount of time that I have spent on hold.

And the amount of time I’ve been consumed worrying about this bag far exceeds that. Because the bourbon addition wasn’t the only last-minute decision I made. Fearing I’d be stuck quarantining in Canada for 14 days, I packed all of my hand-written notes for my novel.

Anyways, after several agents and hours, I determined that the bag would not be joining me in Edmonton. The goal then was to get it back to Kentucky. One agent told me it was locked in customs in Toronto. Another said she thought it had gotten stuck in Calgary. A third asked me to describe the contents inside my bag in case the tag had been ripped off.

That was a low point.

Long story short, the bag was finally located yesterday, two days after I arrived back in Kentucky.

Turns out, it had been on vacation in Edmonton as well. Without me.

But, according to the Roadie map, we will be reunited in about 10 minutes. Now the only thing to worry about is whether everything is ruined by eau de bourbon.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some important lessons I learned this week, lessons that I’ll admit I should have already learned by the ripe age of 44. Nevertheless, here we go. First, never pack something you aren’t willing to lose. Second, skip the bourbon. And three, during a massive pandemic surge, don’t check.

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