I planned the trip four months ago, booked the flights, reached out to family and arranged the summer school adventure for my eldest. Decision making has never been a problem for me. It is one of the ways I activate change. A significant gesture, a daring move, acknowledging my fear. Living with the decision is my challenge. The doubt that can surface is always tough.
My bag was ready a week before departure. My daughter and I discussed frequently what we might need. We checked the weather often. Two days prior to leaving, I packed my son's duffle, just in case. He unpacked it twice the day of travel, to make sure everything he wanted was actually in there. Happily, I admit, my neurotic was unnecessary. My panic (that he would not get it done) or my control (managing his responsibility), was an old story demanding attention. Funny how this can happen, even when I know better. Habits.
My intention to be calm, to stay relaxed, to enjoy our travel did not accompany me, initially. Leaving familiar, however eager, can be daunting. The closer we get, the more worry I can generate. The nonsensical type that skirts the line of thinking that everything will fall apart, like pulling a loose thread from a shawl, to begin the unravel. Am I nervous about traveling? Maybe. Do I doubt my decision? Not really. Could I be unsure how my physical body will handle the flight? Yes, absolutely.
I am uncomfortable in my seat. Squished to be precise. I do not remember having this experience before. There is little room. When the kid in front of me puts his seat back, I feel the air get pushed into my lungs as the front edge of the drop down table slides under my ribs. When I reach for the bag I placed under his seat, my head hits the backside of his chair. For the first time, ever, as a traveler, I choose to sit on the aisle so I can get up as needed without complication. All this conscious effort did not assuage the strong feeling of irritation. I am directly across from the toilet, both a blessing and a curse, depending on the perspective. My son asked a flight attendant for earbuds to watch movies. He didn't think to get two extra for his traveling companions because, as he explains, with a smile that communicates duh, "You both were sleeping." I grunt as I push the call button, feeling completely justified in my frustration, to see nobody coming to my rescue. Can I wave to a flight attendant, is that acceptable? Snap my fingers? Holler "WooHoo"? I am surprised at my inclination and I do none of these things. Instead, I walk to the rear of the plane hoping to find assistance. No such luck. When I return to my seat, both my children are looking at me with eyes that implore me to be patient. So I sit and breathe. Food arrives. I verbalize my request for headphones. My left handed child sits to my right, which means she is continuously bumping my right arm. This only antagonizes my discomfort. The earbuds arrive after our meal. And movies, for the first time in my life, offer no respite. Whatever is going on with me cannot be quelled by online-entertainment.
I abandon myself to sleep. And this works. It takes up almost ten hours of our twelve hour flight. It is the only way I can handle me, honestly. I am a little embarrassed to admit it. Because I wish to be living the fantasies I had spun for months. I imagined it so different, my being more engaging, perhaps even playful with my kids on the plane. And that is not how I show up. Being next to them I can sense their excitement for adventure. It feels as though they have enough for all of us. Do they notice my struggle? Do they care that I am not more? They appear content in their own ways. This gives me the space for my own self-reflection.
I choose this trip because I deem us ready to greet family with renewed vitality. We are ready to explore and to experience. Post - divorce and post - Covid, we are eager to taste more of what life has to offer. It has been seven years since we last visited Denmark. We want to say hello with open arms, to embrace all this country will deliver.
We arrive at grandad's home, on a hot summer afternoon in June, to a mid-day meal of crab appetizers with champagne, followed by quiche. We then siesta, to sleep away any jet lag, in gentle preparation for an evening meal of freshly baked bread, lobster (from Canada) and zabaglione with berries. "The best restaurant in town" bellows grandad, in absolute admiration of bedstemor's cooking. Yes, her homemade is spectacular. I exclaim, "This is more delicious than it looks, the flavors are unbelievable", as I imagine licking the zabaglione remains from the frosted glass. Then my son utters, "I am surprised too." And this is how we settle into new routine and being away from home. Connecting through stories and culinary delicacies. Finding ways to participate and growing a shared presence. No need to rush. My kids are never in a hurry. I love this about them, their ability to go slow.
These are the words of invitation today, from my daughter's lips: "We're on vacation. Mom, you can read anytime. Now we want to be with you, so please come along with us." Amidst the rain we find ourselves in a grand movie theater to see "Top Gun Maverick". The loungers come with extra pillows, blankets and tiny tables with lights. Decadence and luxury all in one. We are whisked away, together, on an adrenaline high that we will never forget. Welcome.