Friday, May 8, 2009

Flying to Vancouver

I have never thought of myself as a nervous flyer and I'm not, but as I prepared to take the kids on their first flight, I realized that I do find flying to be a surreal experience and I tend to kind of zone out rather than thinking about being 35,000 feet above the ground. I like to mentally cocoon myself and I didn't think I could do that with kids: I would need to be more present.

The night before we left, as i tucked Megan into bed, she looked up at me with sparkling eyes and said, "This feels like Christmas! I can't wait until tomorrow!"

When we arrived at the airport, John was dazzled by the size and technical complexities of the place. He looked like someone who had found his home as he walked along, wearing sunglasses and pulling his suitcase behind him with the worldweariness of an experienced traveler. And he saved our bacon when he realized that we were waiting at the wrong gate - we had confused 1500 hours and 1700 hours although we had the right destination either way. We had tried to get window seats but couldn't - until a man offered to switch with us just before we left the gate. As we pulled away from the gate, John excitedly said, "We're taking off!" and Matt began to take the first of 500 inflight pictures.

They loved it all and I did too. It was fun to help them figure out how to adjust lap trays and to direct fresh air onto themselves, how to not panic when you try to push the bathroom door out and it doesn't work, how to find jazz on the inflight radio and how to track our flight path.

I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button en route. Dave asked me after we landed what it was like and my answer was "epic" - not only because it was a long movie stretching over decades, but because it took me the whole entire flight to watch, between dropping a headphone into my tea, sorting out squabbles about how long someone could sit by the window, ordering a small barbecued chicken pizza (surprisingly good! and not worth less than its price), taking various small people to the bathroom, determining what kind of pop was ok for kids to drink, crossing the aisle to see ice-covered lakes, prairie fields and the Rockies, discussion of how awesome turbulence and depressurization were and finally a short conversation about whether you would always jerk forward in the event of a crash, just as we were about to land.

I hope that our children provided a pleasant diversion for those around them, rather than any annoyance. I think that was the case. They did for me anyhow, even if I missed my cocoon.

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