Sunday, May 23, 2010

Take Off

Upward Bound
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Unfortunately, my first thought on lift off from Auckland International Airport -- after the obligatory paranoid counting slowly to ten as somewhere I'd assimilated the factoid or urban myth that 90% of all airline take off disasters are in the first 10 seconds -- that first thought was, "I don't want to be here." It's possible the countdown itself was not helpful, but at least it was habitual. With no deep dislike of flying and a love of travel and new experiences, the thought came as a surprise. The burn of incipient tears more so.

This wasn't the me of my youth. It isn't even the me of a mere decade ago. Frankly, I don't particularly like children. They are noisy, dirty, and they smell. Husbands are only marginally more useful. White picket fence maternal feelings are not precisely my style. Back in the day, a business trip was an excuse to escape the oddly leave-it-to-beaver life I had somehow backed into. I loved to climb on the plane with a good book and an open mind. It took considerable self-restraint not to gerrymander my business budgets to offer up more excuses to visit Canada, Europe, and various destinations in the United States.

Then 9/11 caught me out of place. I'm not saying that my experience was particularly unusual or traumatic. Everyone has a story for those hours and days. In my case, I was in Europe on business with a few colleagues. With flights closed over Europe and the United States, getting home was a challenging and chancy endeavor. The final itinerary routed me through to Vancouver, Canada from which I taxied and then walked across the border. I said to my mom as I climbed in the car that that was the last trip I'd be taking without the children for awhile.

And so it was. We left the girls on land for the Neah Bay to San Francisco run (a wholly unwarranted precaution, by the way) but otherwise, I haven't taken a trip without DrC and the girls in nine years. So it was a bit of surprise to feel such a strong sense of wrongness in doing so today. It could be that all the media-fed frenzy kept that feeling of isolation and desolation alive and well in the hind brain during the intervening decade.

I'm more inclined to think that the unease is instead a byproduct of the dramatic changes in the nature of my relationship with my intimate family over those same years. Ten years ago, we were very engaged by our professional lives and the process of creating a materially wonderful home. I had never spent even five, uninterrupted, consecutive days solo with the girls let alone the weeks we managed on our trip. We had never homeschooled or waited out a hurricane in a bathroom or wandered through the dwellings of ancient cliff dwellers. We just weren't nearly as close. Okay true, the girls were much smaller, much younger, and Aeron had roughly the conversational acumen of a Macaw parrot. But DrC and I were also not as close. We hadn't shared night watches or sold everything we owned or gone on walks together every morning, day after day, week after week.

I don't feel any sense of relief to be getting a few weeks without the kids. I'm not really looking forward to visiting my old stomping grounds in Seattle or Sacramento. And I am definitely anticipating with any sense of joy getting the boat ready for hurricane season down in La Paz. Without the girls and DrC, a big sense of savory has gone out of my sense of the next few weeks.

My job for the next 36 some odd hours while I make my torturous way up north is to focus on the really important reasons for this trip. I will be present in the moment when two very good friends commit to spending their lives together. I will get to drink red wine and frozen blueberries with Greg, cuddle Dulcinea (if she'll allow me), and have lunch with Jim. Checking on my mom in Sacramento is super important and very needed, and hopefully she'll be full of enough spit and vinegar that we can go to Orange Freeze. Several times.

But let's be honest. No amount of positive thinking is going to render the slogging effort in Mexican summer heat of prepping the boat for the season anything to be happy about. There's the power of positive thinking, and then there is sticking your head in the sand. Very very hot sand.


judith said...

Be safe and have a good trip.

Andrew, Bridget, Walker, and Josie said...

Did I miss something? I thought you sold your boat. I will have to go back and re-read! Oh Joy.

Toast said...

I'm afraid that in today's market, 'trying to sell the boat' and 'selling the boat' are two very different activities. We're on to Plan B! Which as a complete aside I still find an outstanding name for a boat.

Anonymous said...

Dearest mom. That article sounded much too bitter for my mom! Remember that we are thinking of you and we love you. Think of the good things that will come of this trip and dont dwell on the worky bit! I love you and i love your other article by the way! Stay happy mom -jaime x