check your sugarcoat at the door

storytime: calamity on a plane
August 24, 2011, 5:44 pm
Filed under: as a mama, kiddo, wah

In March of 2004, I decided to fly to Florida to visit my cousin. We’re just about the same age and we’d been built-in best friends since we could crash our walkers into one another while our parents drank beer on the patio. Her family had moved across the country on account of my uncle’s job transfer and I’d yet to visit her there.

The thing was, and there were some things, I had never flown before. And I had fourteen month old. That I was going to take with me. And I was eighteen without a friggin’ clue about anything.


This is much like now though the difference is that now I know I don’t have a clue. No one told me when I was eighteen, “Uh, hey friend? Those little anecdotes about life in this society that one acquires through time and experience? YAIN’T GOT ANY.”

Kiddo looked about like this at the time. Do you just die? I die.

My mom’s best friend worked for an airline at the time so I purchased an inexpensive flight through her. There were going to be a couple hiccups but with prior knowledge and planning they would be no thang. The flight to Orlando would layover in Houston but I could stay on the plane and wait for everyone to re-board. (This was incorrect.) The flight home was a stand-by flight but it wasn’t even half way full so it would be a non-issue. (This was incorrect.)

My dad and my boyfriend delivered Kiddo and I (and my duffel bag, backpack, carseat and diaper bag) to the LAX labyrinth. It was a teensy tiny LOT overwhelming. I had kind of forgotten that I tended to get hysterical and anxious when I had to part with Josh (doth thee have some issues, Calamity?) and I became an inconsolable mess. Once inside, Josh was allowed to help me carry my baggage (as he’s done for almost a decade now, ho ho ho) until the security point where I took over and managed to maneuver one thousandy pounds plus a living, moving (adorable, chubby) being through the metal detectors and the like. Again: first time. I didn’t know I had to take my jacket and shoes off and was impatiently told to step aside and do so. In the process, I set Kiddo down and she promptly began crawling away from me. I was already exhausted, heart racing, hot and wanted someone to hold my hand. But I remained calm and collected NOT AT ALL.

Unlike most aspects of this trip, I had experienced a metal detector/baggage scanner situation once before. My mom and I went to court when I was but a wee unpregnant teen for a traffic ticket I’d received. We were sent back to the car three times. Giant novelty safety pins (why?), disposable cameras and Swiss army knives? Not allowed in court.

My belongings went onto the belt and the kid and I went through the archway o’ safety. My favorite black jacket never came off that conveyer belt, may it rest in peace. Onward to the boarding area, a kind gentleman chased me down to return the trail of items that were spilling out of my back pocket including cash and lipstick. Why, thank you, may I wipe mine and my toddler’s snot trails on your sleeve?

By the grace of something holy, we made it on that goddamn plane. But I could not stop crying. Despite my efforts at discretion, my seatmate asked if I would be alright and offered comforting platitudes. There would be nothing to worry about, she promised. She did this all the time. But being thousands of feet in the air was not a concern for me. It was being lost and confused and lonely and full to the brim with regret for trying to be a big girl and thinking I could just go across the country with my baby.

In Houston, we touched down and I was asked to exit the plane. I asked if I could just wait in my seat but there would be none of that. I stayed as close to the gate as I could, knowing that if I even looked away for a second it would disappear and I would be trapped in Texas forever and ever.

The plane nor the path to it disappeared on me. I took my seat with the angelic one-year-old and we set out for Orlando.

My cousin found me quickly in the airport when we landed. We waited for my checked baggage and it seemed that (one of) my worst nightmares had, of course, come true. I knew that I couldn’t trust my luggage all out of sight and tucked away under the plane. The carseat did not make it. It was hanging out in Houston, not being sat in by any adorable diapered butts.

We risked the drive to Cocoa Beach with Kiddo in my lap. When we arrived I swore off travel forever.

To be continued with: New Jersey, corn & pee!


2 Comments so far
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Hmmmm…You must have forgot the part where I tried like hell to talk you out of this trip, but, OH NO!!! I’M 18! I GOT THIS! and how I cried all day long when I missed your call from the airport…silly girl.

Comment by Mom

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