02 January, 2008

Up, Up, and Away

I stood with my dad in the airport in Albuquerque.  It is a small airport meaning that I could wait until the last minute before going through security.  And that is what I was doing... waiting.  Drinking my mocha and waiting until the last minute... waiting to board the plane; waiting to be one of a few hundred people cramped into a small space for 4 hours; waiting as long as possible before I would breathe bacteria, smell indefinable scents, and be challenged to battle plane bound boredom - mine and the Diva's. 
It is hard to believe that there was a time in my life, not too long ago actually, when I loved to fly.  I felt at home in any airport and enjoyed the challenge of negotiating through check in and security. 
An airplane meant the beginning of an adventure or the appreciation of returning from an experience. 
Perhaps I am getting old and cranky, but an airplane doesn't hold that same feeling anymore.  Now airplanes are crowded.  They are too many people in too small a space.  I know, without doubt, that my long legs and I will end up sitting behind the person who reclines their chair - their broken chair that is - on top of my lap leaving me unable to reach the overstuffed bag beneath my seat. 
Flying means filling a carry on with every possible small means of entertainment for the Diva - books, Rubik's cubes, electronic games, snacks... anything and everything to fight midflight boredom. 
I used to look forward to each flight with excitement.  The swish of the doors opening into the departure area... walking down the jet way to the plane... finding my seat and settling in to anticipate the adventure yet to unfold... *sigh*
Now I stand, waiting until the last possible moment.  Cherishing my mocha as long as humanly possible.  I postpone entering the security line knowing that once I enter, I can not come back; I can not retreat, it is the land of no return!
For years I have anticipated traveling with the Diva.  I want to share the love of adventure, the thirst for experience, and the quest to discover all that lies after landing with her.  I want to find that love of airports and airplanes again, and I want to share it with her.  
For 8 years and countless flights I have stressed, postponed, dragged my feet, and mentally cringed entering the airport - the airplane was something I prepared for but did not think about until I had no choice. 
But now... well, this last flight from Albuquerque to Virginia... well, it wasn't so bad.  Beyond the guy with the broken, reclined seat sitting in front of me and having to sit on the tarmac for an extra hour... it wasn't that bad.  
The Diva read her book, watched the movie, only left her seat twice, and never mentioned how bored she was.  She never even asked "how much longer!"
I promised that when she could handle flying cross country I would take her to Sweden (only a 9 hour flight) for vacation.  Perhaps, just perhaps, she is nearly ready to fly.  Perhaps, just perhaps, I am ready to discover my love for flying once again.   


Wombat said...

If you are ready for some more adventure travel, EO, that's some achievement.

I *totally* see myself in your disillusionment. Bloody cattle-cars.

Ryan said...

People with long legs should have to fly first class by default... It should be the same price as coach because really - we can't help it that we are too long to fit in the space provided.

It's good to see you're back safe and sound, and well enough to post!!

Oh... If you have room - take me to Sweden with you.

KennethSF said...

Flying used to be an elegant affair. Everyone dressed up, behaved themselves, and were treated like royalties by the staff in return. Today, I feel like the only place to capture some semblance of that feeling is to travel first-class by rail.

Regardless, go on an adventure. It'll be a wonderful journey inside and out for you and the Diva.

Have the T-Shirt said...

I started my kids very young. Tyler traveled to Hawaii the first time at the age of 5 months, the second time at the age of 13 months. It is a 13 hour flight from here, minimum.

Do you have any idea how much you have to pack to keep two children entertained on a 13 hour flight?

Air travel is no longer 'fun'. It's something to be endured, which means the destination has to be to die for to make up for it.

Sweden sounds to die for :)

JustRun said...

Every time I see people flying with little kids, I think that is just something I will dread. And I will do it because of the destination, but, my gosh, it is going to nearly kill me.

Seven Seas said...

Traveling by air is ok, have to admit that to this day I still get the thrill of lift off. Give me an ocean any day, something awe inspiring about being out on the blue. Of course from Albuquerque to Virginia there are not too many sea routes....

Jeni said...

If at her age she handled this long a flight that well, I'd say she's getting herself geared up too, in her own way, for bigger and better (hopefully) destinations. And in my mind, Sweden would be at the absolute TOP of my list of places to go. Half of my ancestry comes from that country and I've wanted for many, many, many years to be able to go see the land of some of my forefathers. Doubt I'll ever get there unless I win the lottery so you go, take lots of pictures, come back and describe it all in depth and I'll pretend I was there with you then. OK?

The Exception said...

Wombat - Too True, and they say it is just going to get worse. Ah, if only I could always fly first class! (Maybe instead of a boy toy I need a... sugar daddy!)

Ryan - Now that is a great idea! Sure, come along, the more the merrier!

Kenneth - Now that is an idea... I have not done first class train travel though I enjoy taking the high speed train up to Boston. Luckily, I am slightly addicted to adventure, as is the Diva. We are just waiting for our time to come.

T-Shirt - You are a brave woman!! The Diva flew 3 round trip flights before she was 1. Beyond the delays here and there, that was easy. It was once she learned to walk that things became difficult. I can't imagine packing bags to entertain two!

And Sweden is great!

JR - Some kids travel fabulously. Mine loves to travel and has been doing it since she was 3 months old, it is me that has the issues! You will survive, I promise!! ;)

Seven Seas - Other than crossing the English channel a few times, I have never traveled by boat (boats on lakes don't count). I think it would be a great experience. There are aspects of flying that I will always love - lift off, touch down, and bouncy flights!

Jeni - Sweden is a fabulous country to visit. I wanted to take the Diva there first because there is so much to do outside - not to mention that there are Viking things to see! I think that she will love it. I won't go until the dollar recovers a bit, but when I do, I hope to still be writing and thus I will post pictures!

I also want to do Iceland... which is less expensive and a shorter flight than flying west!

AaroN said...

Traveling with children really changes things when it comes to traveling, especially when flying. I've got some good stories from when I used to fly more frequently than I do now.