Once upon a time, I traveled frequently. I tried to be on a flight once every couple of months, almost always to visit family and friends. For a stretch of time, I also went to Paris once a year; it was a commitment I’d made to myself for joy.
I write these things now, and I know I understood at the time how lucky I was. I see the words on this page and think – so few people ever get to do that. I think about all that travel and I’m filled with awe and gratitude but also some guilt at the environmental cost.
Perhaps the last few years have balanced it out a bit.
I haven’t been on a flight since before the pandemic, since before my baby arrived, since – before. But I’ve got one scheduled this week. I’m headed east with my child and my partner for Thanksgiving. My son will meet family he doesn’t know he has; I will meet a nephew who I have yet to hold. It’s hard to believe it’s happening – and with an apparent Covid surge in my area right now, it’s hard to believe it will happen – but I catch myself in these moments of wild joy, thinking about all the people I get to see.
First, though, there is the travel. In the before times, I loved to fly. I knew how to do it all, and it came easily: parking, TSA, luggage. I had my favorite things to eat and drink, both before takeoff and once in the air, and I knew what to carry in my shoulder bag and how to efficiently pack my carry-on. I rarely checked luggage; even for a monthlong stay in Paris once, I was able to fit it all in a bag that fit in an overhead compartment.
Oh, how far away that feels now. How innocent.
I am astounded at the number of things I need to consider when thinking through how to fly with a toddler. What to bring; how to transport the car seat; the stuff for the airport hotel the night before, which we’ll drive to when he’s hopefully asleep after bathtime because our flight is so early.
I have researched – probably too much – all the things I might bring to make the journey as peaceful as possible: snacks, extra clothes (for everyone, it seems to be), new toys, favorite books, a portable busy board. Noise canceling headphones, which I don’t totally understand. A snuggly blanket, which I do. There’s advice on how to navigate the time change; on how to make it through security quickly; on how to prepare my child for what’s to come so not everything is completely new.
It’s a lot; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But then I remember – maybe this will be the start of a lifelong love for my child. I get the chance to show him about one of my favorite things on the planet. I get to introduce him to travel.
Maybe I won’t ever again travel like I once did. But this week, I get to look out the window at the ground below me with my son in my lap. I get to share with him the joy of going somewhere new where people we love are waiting.
And that, my friends, makes my return to the skies truly thrilling.
One comment on “Monday. 14 November.”
I feel you. And then throw in a baby.