Comedian Louis Szekely, known professionally as Louis C.K., believes that we live in a world of momentous technology that is wasted on the biggest group of unappreciative babies. I know with chemo and “mom” brain I can’t recite his sentiments verbatim, but I do my best relating Mr. Szekely’s thoughts. I tell my children on the way to the air- port, “People talk about delays. You can get from New York to California in five hours. Before, it would take thirty years, and people would die or give birth on the way. You end up getting there with an entirely new group than you started with. Now you can pretty much watch a movie, use the bathroom and you’re home.” It truly helps put things perspective.
“B.C.” (before children) flying was a completely different adventure. “B.C.” I would take reading material that I would actually delve into, wear highly inappropriate shoes and eat as- sorted “adult” munchies instead of being armed with Cheerios, fruit snacks, and apple juice.
My first major solo flight as a young adult was to Rome, Italy. I sat between two Italian men that could not speak a word of English. I fell asleep and woke up to find the man to my left stroking my hair. With his fingers still embedded in my HUGE 80s hairdo that had its own zip code, I quickly grabbed my “Learn Italian in 10 Minutes a Day” book. I soon regret- ted that before the trip I’d opened it an av- erage five minutes a week, but somehow managed to firmly say, “Tenere le mani a posto.” (Keep your hands to yourself.) At that point I thought it best that I inch my way closer to the older gentleman to my right. He was excited to show me some- thing he bought and leaned over to pro- duce a plastic bag from under his seat. He opened it to reveal a heap of crustaceans and a foul stench. It took me a moment to contemplate whether it was best to stick with the man with smelly crabs or head back to the one that could give them to me. Smelly crab man won out. I truly be- lieved that nothing could top the odor of crabs on a nine hour flight until I sat next to a woman who continually fed grapes to her pet ferret. We ended up hovering over Atlanta for three hours. You will under- stand why the little varmints ended up on my “no way in &^%$ we will ever own one of these” list.
Years later I was blessed to have the opportunity to take my children to Rome. There was a massive delay, and we had to be rerouted to Germany. After my dark-skinned, Mediterranean-looking daughter was “randomly” picked for a pat down at the security checkpoint, we boarded. Our first major priority was to sit together. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. If someone refused to change seats, I would calmly tell them how best to deal with a preteen with severe motion sick- ness and would hand them a half-dozen “barf bags” to be on the safe side — works every time.
Hours and hours and hours later, having lost sleep, one DVD player, the contents of Lauren’s stomach (I wasn’t kidding about the motion sickness) and a boarding pass for our next flight, we ar- rived in Germany. Knowing we had six hours before our flight to Italy departed, I had grand thoughts of us seeing the sights of Munich. Instead we spent the ENTIRE time in the airport trying to get a new boarding pass. My child’s diary was not filled with images and stories of Europe that day. It read, “The people here in Germany are mean. And I counted four people who didn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom.”
You don’t know what you’re made of until you’ve taken three children through the Atlanta airport. That being said, there is a part of flying that I LOVE. I enjoy look- ing around the plane and watching the interaction of people sitting next to each other bonding. Out in the world without turbulence, slight delays and $3 pretzels, they might pass each other by. Recently on a flight home, I watched a tattooed 6’5” gentleman with earrings protruding out of all sorts of places, showing photos of his kids to the grey-haired grandma sit- ting next to him. My girls, who get lost in their electronics on flights, always ask me why I usually end up hugging the person I’m next to. I guess I’m just lucky, and like comedian Louis C.K., I appreciate the true miracle of flight. We are sitting in a chair in the air — it’s pretty incredible. So bring on the delays and the temporary frustrations, and remember you’re head- ing toward loved ones, adventure and times remembered.