Said stewardess, in her blue skirt suit and red tie, stepped up to the curtained frame of first-class- ends-here and mustered formality. As the announcer methodically droned about our options for potential exiting of the plane, the stewardess stared forward and motioned twice for each designated area where chaos would funnel should my worst fears come true.
As a first time flyer, I absorbedly munched on nacho flavored Pop Chips, and tried my best to ignore that response which was, like the release of a drugged i.v., slowly coursing its way through my veins. Around me, passengers situated and calm. Inside me, a numb feeling crawling. And then she pulled out the bleeping yellow oxygen mask and a wave of panic hit me.
I looked to my left, out the tiny airplane window and felt the tears emerge. I closed my eyes and thought of Thomas’s face. California and Missouri. Too much space between those two. The impending separation of me and my son reared its ugly head and there was the pavement moving under my constricting window view. Tears fell like rain.
We started floating backward. I wanted to flee but gripped the arms of my chair and my heart screamed silent angst at the thought of me so far removed from my son’s kisses and hugs. My chest froze at the handicap of not reaching him in the unfortunate chance of sickness or emergency.
Paul discovered my crying and reassured me. I, as is my style when in a state of fear, could only respond to his questions about why I was crying with a dumb silence. When he figured it out and said, “He’s going to be just fine. We’re going to be safe. Your parents are going to take great care of him,” I really lost it. I accepted Paul’s hand in mine and breathed deeply as we raced into the runway for takeoff. We lifted and I lost my breath. As we ascended into the clouds, my appreciation for all this beauty below was mixed with slivers of apprehension for leaving Thomas behind.
Taking a vacation is about filling our cup with happy memories. There is a sense of fueling up on good to last us through the mundane and the difficult. But it’s a lot more than that too. It’s a separation that allows us to see new, question more, and daydream about painting bold strikes of colors into our lives when we return.
Paul and I are on day #5 of our long anticipated vacation, and I’m coming to see our time away as much more than just really enjoyable. I’ve stared into a soul-wrenching painting of Mary Magdalene and felt her agony. I’ve mused at the waves which crash on the coast off Highway 1. I’ve sat across the table from Paul and been simply, fully present. I’ve let the questions which start with “why” to take up residence, front and center, in my mind.
And that’s all good and great that we have liberties to imagine ourselves into an adventure, to frame up our happiness and hold it high, to dip our toes into the six inches of our toddler’s $10 plastic pool in the backyard and proclaim, “Hey, this is our beach, kids. Soak it up!”
But for all the out of country trips and late night work sessions Paul busted out to help us earn hotel and flight points—hallelujah! For all the days which built into months which turned into years that’ve somehow magically brought two stubborn and sensitive individuals immeasurably close together to make this trip all the sweeter —hallelujah! And for the three year old boy in his version of heaven at Nana and Papa’s house who couldn’t care less if Mommy & Daddy [or his brudders] are ever coming back—hallelujah! Today, I walk a real beach.
|View at our current stay--a Double Tree in Santa Barbara|