Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long Trip Home

The trip home from Georgia was long and filled with delays. We left my sister's house at 10 a.m. Eastern time and arrived home at 2 a.m. Pacific time (5:00 a.m. Eastern time). A total of 19 hours of travel time is hard on anyone, but even more difficult when you are only four. Or maybe it's the other way around!

The first leg of our journey was relatively uneventful. A pleasant stop at American Girl Doll store in Atlanta preceded our arrival at the airport. Maya picked out her souvenir and I chose for the other girls left home with dad. At the airport I decided to check in curbside. Plans changed when Maya told me she needed to use the restroom ... now!

No problem. It wasn't too hard to hurry with two suitcases, two carry-ons, a purse, and a booster seat OR even to pack them all into the stall with us. A near-miss, but we made it and emerged from the stall all smiles. Off we sailed to check-in at the counter.

One-and-a-half pounds overweight on checked-in luggage would cost me an extra $50. I had to quickly reshuffle. I would now carry that one-and-a-half pounds onto the plane myself. After lugging my baggage over to a cart (they wouldn't take it at the counter) we were off to security.

Oops! The security officer noticed I had no boarding slip. Back to the check-in counter Maya and I walked with our two carry-ons, including the extra one-and-a-half pounds of stuff in them. Waited politely for the person in front to finish, requested the boarding slip which the ticket agent insisted she'd already given me. Back to the security line at a slightly quicker pace. In the interim, the line had grown from one single line to three. Waited again. Smiled politely at the fellow cattle, ahem, passengers, shuffling along beside me. And then...

Broke into a sweat getting off shoes, sweaters, opening the laptop, and sliding everything through the x-ray machine under the scrutinizing eye of security agents and with the collective breath of the masses behind me hot on my neck. Took a deep breath as I padded barefoot and undignified through the metal detector. Then repeated the above process trying to re-collect my belongings, plus that extra one-and-a-half pounds which had begun to feel a lot heavier, off the conveyor belt. Then to find our gate...

Maya informed me she was hungry as we jogged towards our gate. I made her all kinds of promises IF we could just make it to the plane on time. I was beginning to worry a little. Engaged in a delightful conversation with a missionary's widow on the shuttle towards our gate. Maya attempted to stand without holding onto the safety rails. Not a good idea.

We arrived at the gate just as they were summoning the last two boarding zones. We'd made it! I was feeling a little wobbly in the knees. Maya promptly began a conversation with the man sitting next to us. I wasn't really in the mood to meet anyone at the moment. But Maya was insistent.

Santiago turned out to be pleasant enough. He and his wife are trying for children. The subject of adoption came up and suddenly, I was all ears. The quick flight to Charlotte was uneventful. I shared some information with Santiago, which he jotted down, and we were off.

Charlotte at last. A leisurely lay-over awaited us and we browsed through various shops. Maya was fascinated by all the people who rushed past us. Those waiting for our plane seemed especially friendly. I had no idea they were angels in disguise.

A big man introduced himself as "Big Bird" when Maya asked. A mother traveling with her two teen-age sons, Kendal and Riley, sat across the aisle from us in the plane. We smiled politely to each other as the plane backed out from the gate. And then ...

The pilot's voice informed us a repair was needed. It wouldn't take long, he assured us. Not more than an hour ... or so. We were free to leave the plane and walk around the airport while the repair was completed. Noooooo! I thought. Maya simply bounced on the seat next to me waving her miniature Disney princess figurines to Kendal and Riley.

For the next two hours we wandered aimlessly through gift shops. Maya waved at every fellow passenger she recognized from our plane. (I had never talked to so many people on one airplane in my life!) She informed "Big Bird" that our plane was "sick" and needed to be fixed. Riley and Kendal entertained her for much of the time. They seemed to have more energy than I did at the moment.

Mercifully, they transferred us to a new plane. After a bit more across-the-aisle banter between Kendal, Riley, and Maya, everyone settled down for the flight home. Home! What a sweet thought, I mused, as I drifted off to sleep with Maya snuggled on my lap.

And somewhere during our flight, while we slumbered peacefully up in that starry sky, Maya peed on me.

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P.S. A big thank you to Kendal, Riley, and "Big Bird," for being so helpful and kind! May we be blessed to meet more like you.