Saturday April 7, 2012
Since the only time I get to see my parents is the one time a year they fly into Michigan to visit family and friends, I didn’t want to leave on a four year journey without squeezing in a little quality time with them. My brother and I made plans to fly out and visit while Matt unfortunately stayed behind to work. My brother had flown out from Detroit the night before me and I was supposed to arrive the next afternoon around 3:30 with plenty of time in the day to still lounge by the pool with a drink in my hand.
Getting dropped off at the airport by Chris and Jack I was checked in at the counter within 15 minutes and still had over an hour to occupy my time before the flight left. Knowing I didn’t want to quarantine myself to the terminal just yet I visited the Pizza Hut counter to get a fountain drink and sat among the large array of tables to get some writing done. 30 minutes later I grabbed my purse and carry-on to make my way through security as I spent a few extra dollars on my ticket for an assigned seat and they made sure to tell you that if you’re not to your gate 45 minutes before departure you could forfeit that assigned seat. As I walked to the end of the terminal I could see our gate was quite crowded and my chances of not having anyone sit next to me were getting slimmer. Still having those 45 minutes before our plane was supposed to depart I plopped down in an empty seat and pulled out my e-reader to keep myself busy. Scrolling through all the new books Matt and downloaded I was hoping Tina Fey’s ‘Bossy Pants’ was on there, but it hadn’t made it so I settled on a blog-type book from Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear) and began reading stories about how he dropped a bomb (literally) on North Carolina and how British women don’t fit into the fashion or social scene of the Caribbean.
Before I knew it they were boarding the plane and I took my window seat while wondering what kind of over-talkative cat lady they were going to sit next to me. When the open seating began I was thankful when a family of four came to my row where the wife and two daughters took the seats across the aisle and the husband took the empty seat next to me where I knew he’d be too preoccupied with his family to talk my ear off the whole flight. There was however a six year old ginger kid that took a seat in front of me and was so excited to go see his grandma that he couldn’t stop talking about it. I remember what it’s like to be that young and that excited about something but after the week I’d just had at work I didn’t want to slap on a smile and talk to anyone unless I personally knew them. I was waiting for the point where we were high enough in the air that electronics were allowed and I could pop in my earbuds and drown out the world for the next four hours. Just as I thought we were about to start moving since the doors were closed and everyone was seated there was and announcement that came on overhead. ”Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Captain speaking. We appear to have an issue where our fuel tanks were overfilled and extra fuel has spilled on the tarmac. We need to have this cleaned before we can start moving, and my previous experience with this has seen it take an hour or two so we’re going to offload you from the plane so you can be more comfortable while we take care of this”. The attendants instructed us to collect all our belongings, that we couldn’t leave anything behind, and that we also could not go past the security point without having to buy another ticket to get back on the plane. Everyone deboarded pretty quickly and after checking with an attendant that there would be an overhead announcement when they were reboarding so I wouldn’t have to be glued to our gate I grabbed my bags and started heading down the terminal. Treating myself to Starbucks was out since that was past the security point but I was able to buy a 20 oz Pepsi for $2.79 and take a seat at an empty gate and start reading more stories from And Another Thing: The World According to Clarkson.
There were a few people I recognized from my flight sitting at this less crowded gate so I wasn’t worried it would leave without me. One by one they left and went back to the gate our flight was leaving from but there had still not been an overhead announcement. When they finally did call it over the speakers there was only me and one guy left and as we made our way to the gate we found the area was already empty. Apparently they had already reloaded everyone that was standing around before calling it on the speakers. I was glad I would not have to wait in a line again while boarding but was worried people would not have stuck to their original seats and mine would be gone. Hurrying to the back of the plane where I had originally been sitting I found my seat open and the same family of four sitting next to me. Phew. Everything went much quicker this time as they were able to close the doors just after I had gotten on and everyone else was already seated. I overheard a conversation the man next to me was having with his wife about how scared she is of flying and had her hold her hand out to see how steady it was. Of course it was not at all steady but he assured her that everything would be fine. I thought about chirping in with the ‘You’re more likely to get into an accident on the way to the airport’ comment but decided to keep it to myself. We started rolling backward on the tarmac and ever excited ginger kid started talking non-stop. ”Are we moving yet? When are we going to take off? How fast will we be going? When are we going to get there?” The poor kid was also only making matters worse for the anxiety ridden woman next to me once we got off the ground by turning to his dad and saying “Are we falling? It feels like we’re falling. It feels like the plane is going down”. We were definitely not going down, but that did not make her feel any better.
We landed at the Phoenix-Mesa airport two hours behind schedule where my family was waiting to pick me up. There were hugs all around as I hadn’t seen my parents since on the boat Labor Day. Muscling through the crowds my brother grabbed my bag from the carousel and we were quickly loaded in the truck for the short drive to my parent’s place. It was a nice sunny evening in the low 80′s, and as soon as I dropped my bags off in my room we all made our way out to the patio to catch up over wine and beer. I love that with my family we can pick up like it was just yesterday we last saw each other. We stayed out until the sun started going down about an hour later and my dad realized he needed to get the steaks on the grill before it was too dark to see. a little later we sat down to a family dinner with just the four of us, which probably hasn’t happened in almost 10 years since if I were there then Matt was always there too. By the time dinner ended I was already getting a little tired and with the three hour time difference I was still on Michigan time where it was close to 11:00.
We weren’t ready to call it a night yet as my mom had bought an old VHS copy of Captain Ron for all of us to watch together. After getting into comfy pajama clothes I took a seat next to my brother on the couch. We laughed at all the classic and hilarious lines from the movie and I took note to try and find out where their starting location of ‘Saint Potato’ was. When the movie had finished I was more than ready for bed. I had only been up for 17 hours at this point, but after all the traveling and delays and excited talkative kids it felt like 30.