Guo: Vox Clamantis in Raleigh

by Clara Guo | 3/7/17 2:15am

The figure skating team had our second qualifying competition this past weekend at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. We left campus Friday morning at 5 a.m., and we were supposed to arrive in Hanover late Sunday night (Monday morning?) around 12:30 a.m.

After the competition ended on Sunday afternoon, we drove from Lynchburg to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. We were greeted upon arrival at 7 p.m. by the following news: the flight, already delayed 35 minutes, would now be delayed an additional two hours. Estimated time of departure: 10 p.m. Estimated time of arrival to Hanover: 2:30 a.m. The collective team response? Groans.

We passed security, dragged our luggage to Five Guys (despite their lack of shakes) and sat down at our gate, our phones and laptops occupying every outlet within a 100-foot radius.

I checked the status of our flight online. ETD: 11:30 p.m.

At 8:40 p.m., our flight was “canceled” due to mechanical issues and delayed until noon the next day due to limits on work crew hours.

Our coach and administrator tried rescheduling to an earlier flight to accommodate skaters with quizzes, finals and presentations Monday morning. Unfortunately, rescheduling a group of 21 people proved to be not exactly the easiest of tasks. So we compromised: the airline paid for our hotel rooms with one bed per skater (a luxury compared to our two usual skaters per bed), with three meal vouchers each.

Twenty-one skaters in black pants and green tops walked up, then down, to ground transportation.

Here are some of the many shenanigans that occurred during the hour-long wait outside for our hotel shuttles:

Our coach, Jacki, wore a pin on the top of her head that read “Just Doing Good to Be Here” created by our very own in-team artist Regina.

Our skater ’19s (Alex, Regina, Ellen and Anna) piled up on the concrete floor to reenact a photo taken freshmen spring for the perfect “Transformation Tuesday” on a Sunday.

Maddy aggressively offered skaters pretzels, failing to realize that only crumbs littered the bag.

Someone yelled, “Bang Bang!” and the team yelled back, “My baby shot me down!”

Torri and I silently questioned whether or not dry policy was still in effect. Probability of mimosas? Low.

Alex and Emma mimicked trust falls (Emma was only dropped once).

Mia stepped into the middle of the road, offering to sacrifice herself so our hotel shuttle, still nowhere to be found, would see us and stop.

Jessie, our a cappella captain, led our team in singing Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” until we realized we only knew one phrase, “Must be love on the brain,” and consequently faded into laughter after 20 seconds.

Maddy stretched out her arm for a selfie to commemorate being stranded in Raleigh with finals fast approaching. Claire was the only skater who looked genuinely happy. A façade, she said.

The first hotel shuttle, a minivan, took our administrator and three or four skaters to the Hilton. We expected a second hotel shuttle to arrive soon after.

It didn’t.

The Boston University Figure Skating Club eventually joined us on the curb. We were a Christmas spectacular, Dartmouth in forest green and BU in terrier red.

The consensus emotions at this point were, in no particular order: exhaustion sprinkled with exhilaration, incredulity sliding into acceptance and happy relief stemming from the realization that we could have been stranded with people we do not love.

So, thanks to our exhilarated relief, we began yelling at passing cars. Not aggressive, road-rage yelling characteristic of my sister driving in northern Virginia. More like happy, fun yelling, tinted with the knowledge that these shuttles, from every other hotel in the region, would not stop for us. We yelled “Oh”’s that fell in pitch like Liszt’s downward glissandos, not once, not twice, but upwards of seven times, collective hope devolving into amused, unsurprised frustration.

The hotel shuttle had to come for us eventually … right?

Spoiler alert: it did. After an hour of waiting on the curb, a large, white Embassy Suites shuttle arrived. We cheered collectively, nearly as loudly as our cheers for our teammate’s clean skate after a difficult six-minute warm-up.

The shuttle normally seats 12 to 13. We fit over double that, refusing to wait longer for a third shuttle that was never requested. Dartmouth and BU packed together, sitting on laps and backpacks, standing in corners, red and green mixing into a dark purple. We “Oh”ed in unison when the car turned, bodies mingling together in a collegiate form of the elementary school game “jello.”

Instead of staying up to do work, I crashed before midnight, falling asleep with my laptop open and one paragraph of this piece written.

As of Monday, 2:01 p.m., our original flight has been delayed, canceled, delayed and officially, inexplicably, irreversibly canceled. Skaters are stressed, frantic, confused, piled together at Gate C15 and heavily using all four of our $15 meal vouchers.

Delta has put us on another flight at 7:30 p.m. Hopeful ETA: midnight.

We’re sitting in silence right now, some having just left to grab lunch, others studying, working on problem sets, writing papers. It’s been a long weekend, but I am so thankful that I have shared this experience with a family I love.

Jacki put it best: “Whether your skate was amazing or not quite what you wanted, the memories we all share will be what we remember … Unless you have a pin to remind you.”