Have you ever read about surprise visits in Long Distance Relationships? Maybe you’ve seen a cute video of an LDR couple where one of them surprises the other?
I love to watch videos about surprise visits and to read about their experiences. How people react can be so intense and lovely! I enjoy seeing them so happy to be reunited.
But why is that? What does a surprise do to you and your emotions?
Surprises are a big deal to all of us because when we’re surprised, for better or worse, our emotions can intensify up to 400 percent! That’s a lot! This explains the intense emotions we can see in those videos or read about on Instagram, Facebook or in an article on a blog. If we’re surprised with something positive, we’ll feel more intense feelings of happiness or joy than we normally would without the surprise effect.
Planning my Surprise
Last December, after watching a lot of LDR surprise videos, I was really inspired and began to plan a surprise visit for my fiancé in America too. As you can already imagine, it didn’t go how I expected.
Since I work at a tour operator who sells journeys all over the world, I asked the flight department for a flight offer a few days before the end of December. I got a great offer for flights in March. My birthday and New Years were coming up so I could think about then. I was really excited and told my family right away. They were all really encouraging and offered support if I needed any help.
Soon after I reached out to Tanner’s mom to ask her what she thought about my idea. I asked if she would like to help me to surprise him. Christina was immediately excited and promised me to help forge a plan. I booked the flights at my work place after the New Year. I danced and sung in my head while sitting at my desk in the office. The hardest part came now; figuring out how to surprise Tanner.
After a lot of thinking me and Christina decided that I’d fly from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam, then from there to Salt Lake City. I’d arrive there at noon and Christina would pick me up. We would meet Tanner at a family gathering later.
I said to Tanner, „I will be at an educational weekend for training and my upcoming exams, so I won’t be available.“
Christina said to Tanner, „My brother and his wife are in town. Please come with us to dinner with them.“
Day of Departure
I arrived at the airport at 06:00; excited, but nervous at the same time. After check in I made my way through security, the jungle of shops and cafés, then sat down at my gate. Feeling nervous, I looked at the clock. There was still an hour until boarding. I stood up and grabbed a coffee to pass the time then went to sit down at the gate again. Twenty minutes before boarding a police officer approached the gate I was in. I watched him closely while he spoke.
“Please leave this area immediately and go to the exits. Everyone needs to leave the airport immediately. Please evacuate calmly.”, he ordered.
My heart stopped for a second. I closed my eyes in a brief moment of disbelief then began to move myself slowly towards the exit. What the hell was happening? Twenty minutes before boarding! Seriously? Like a tin of sardines everyone smashed together in front of the security barricades. Me, directly in the middle of it. I heard people murmuring, „Is this a terror attack? Do you know what this is about?”
Despite all these worries all I could think was why did this have to happen right now?! I’ll miss my flight in Amsterdam if we aren’t able to go back inside soon. Trapped in a pile of humans, I began to overheat. There was no air conditioning, no way out of the crowd and I was wearing a thick, oversized sweater. This made me sweaty and very uncomfortable for the rest of my journey. Thousands of people waited for hours in front of the security area until they finally started to let us back inside. Nobody explained what this was about, but I was just glad they finally let us in.
Fortunately, I was one of the first hundreds back inside and was able to get on my flight right away. Unfortunately, they tried to wait for people that got lost in the shuffle. After two hours of waiting, we took off to Amsterdam with out most of our passengers. I already knew I missed my flight to Salt Lake City.
On my way to Amsterdam
The man seated next to me was Peruvian. He on his way to his home to visit his folks. Behind me sat two older men on their way to the US as well. One of them had a very cool mustache; he was very humorous and helped ease my worries for awhile.
After I arrived in Amsterdam I bolted to a help desk. I rushed through the crowds hastily and disoriented. When I finally found the help desk a nice lady rebooked me on a flight to New York City. From there I was to fly to Salt Lake City, where I would arrive later in the afternoon. I hurried to my new gate. I was stressed out already, and felt my plan was about to fail, so I updated Christina on my situation.
It was long eight hours to New York. I couldn’t relax and had strange a feeling the whole time.
Stranded in New York City
After landing and making my way through customs, I realised that the lady at the help desk in Amsterdam didn’t give me a boarding ticket for my connection flight. I asked a woman at the luggage desk where I could get that. She checked my ticket and answered coldly, „You’re only booked to New York. There is no flight to Salt Lake. You’ll have to go outside and ask the people from the airline.”
My legs where shaking and my heart was beating strongly. I had been awake for over twenty hours now, stranded in New York, smelly, alone and stressed out. I tried to calm myself and keep it together. After thirty minutes of walking around and asking a few people for directions I finally made it to the desk of Delta Airlines. The flight that I thought I was booked on was supposed to depart in an hour.
The lady at the desk was friendly and tried to figure out what had happened. She began to see what new flight she could book for me, as the next plane to SLC was already overbooked. I stood there for over an hour, and waited to be rebooked. From time to time I texted Christina and my mom, updating them about my situation.
“You’re rebooked now,” the lady smiled and handed me my boarding ticket, “This is the last flight to Salt Lake today. Unfortunately it is full and you’re on standby, which means you’re on the waiting list. If a seat becomes free you’ll get it. I’m very optimistic that you’ll get one, so don’t worry.” She smiled at me sympathetically.
Is this the Military?
The security staff at JFK was terrifying! I passed officers with drug dogs. At the luggage check the staff repeatedly shouted at us and ordered, “Laptops and electronic devices out of your bags! Bags into the boxes! Shoes stay on! Go! Faster!“
Maybe it was just nerves, but I felt like I was in the army.
I had about two hours until boarding. I wandered through the huge airport until I found a restroom. Once I was in there I just lost it and cried for a bit. I just wanted to speak to Tanner and hear his voice, but then the whole plan would be ruined. I had to calm myself down again.
“You’re just tired, Jacqui. It’s all going to be fine. You just need rest.”, I thought to myself. Luckily, I had an extra hoodie with me, so I changed and felt a bit better.
I left the restroom after washing my face and grabbed two bottles of water in the next shop. I chugged one down instantly. Wow! I didn’t even realise how thirsty I was.
Will I Ever Arrive?
I waited at the gate for the staff to page my name and tell me that I could board the plane. During the wait, I talked with Christina about what to do, as my arrival time would now be 00:30. We decided to bring Tanner into the loop, so I had to call him. He picked up the phone, “Hi babe! What’s up? This isn’t really a good time; I’m at dinner with my parents.”
“Hi honey! I know, I was supposed to be there too. I am in New York right now … on my way to you. I’m kind of stranded here, your mom can tell you all about it.”, I nervously said with a shaking voice.
“What?! You’re in New York?”, he said, shocked.
“Yes, I’m on my way to you. I’m not sure when I’ll arrive yet.”, I explained.
“But… But… Okay, I’m nervous now.“, he said and began to talk with his family in the background for a moment.
My hands were shaking. He didn’t seem happy. We quickly said goodbye and I started to feel like a frog was crawling up my throat to rest there. Did I make a mistake? Suddenly, I heard someone saying my name. The man behind the desk smiled at me and told me I’d gotten a seat on the plane. Thank God! Finally! I would arrive late, but at least I could leave now. I sent Tanner my flight number and arriving time.
I had finally made it!
At half past midnight I stepped out of the plane and looked at Salt Lake’s airport for the second time. My heart began to race and my palms became sweaty. I stepped on an escalator and had already spotted him. My fiancé – there he was! He had flowers in his hand and his eyes were searching for me. When his eyes found mine he smiled a big smile at me and I smiled back.
From there I ran into his calming arms and began to cry while he held me. He was extremely happy to see me and told me he was just a little shocked when he heard the news at first. He gave me my flowers and I grabbed him for another hug – and a long awaited kiss! I was finally home.
My surprise visit didn’t turn out exactly how I may have planned it, but in the end I arrived safely and had an amazing two weeks with my fiancé. I am so thankful! Now onto the next step in our relationship; our wedding!
Have you ever planned a failed surprise like mine? Let me know!
I’m sorry to all of you, I’ve been very busy lately but I hope to be posting regularly again soon!
Farewell little sailors,