My Soul Might Still Be At 36,000 Feet

My dad called me his hero. I’ve never been called someone’s hero, not even in that sardonic Can’t believe you wore gingham to a club way. My husband, G, is not the type of man to heap effusive compliments on anyone, including me. After giving birth to each of our three children, one who was 9 lbs with a head the size of John Candy, I awaited the serene moment in which he would gaze at me with admiration before saying – no whispering – you’re my hero.

Instead I heard something along the lines of, “Are you allowed to eat now because I’m starving.”

I can’t pinpoint the moment that precipitated my father’s declaration, but I suspect it was borne of the awe inspired by the boundless energy of three children aged 3, 2, and 7 months. The compliment was a well-timed bolstering of my confidence as I was set to fly back with the three kids on my own, something G had been describing much the way the Book of Exodus does the Biblical Plagues. I was the one who insisted upon this lengthy and leisurely vacation with my family, though, and the return flight was the toll I’d have to pay.

How lucky are we to ride in a bus as a family? And to sit in the very back because it’s the only row that can contain us and simultaneously grant us insight into the travails of motion sickness and the Civil Rights Movement. The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round…the toilet beside our row goes flush, flush, flush all down the 101!

Speak carefully, airline bag-taking woman, when saying, “Your connection flight is cancelled.” We are four against your one, and one of us is menstruating for the first time in 4 years and another of us has scorching diaper rash.

Do not ask me to re-pack that bag, do not ask me to re-pack that bag. I do not understand the mechanics behind the Big Crunch, but I am certain that the expansion of space will reverse, signaling the collapse of the universe if you even look at that bag’s zipper sideways.  Be a hero, Erin. Be a hero.

The baby has to come out of the Bjorn before I can walk through that detector? Sure, no problem. The only thing more difficult to extract myself from would be a medieval corset or a pair of Jennifer Lopez’ gladiator sandals.

You need to sift through the tub of baby formula for security reasons? Great. That stuff needs to remain sterile, though. Right, you’re wearing gloves. Which just performed a full-body pat-down on a man who was sweating profusely and smelled like patchouli.

I’m sorry, why can’t we board now? The Titanic filled faster than we can traverse a jetway. Step aside?  For who? Don’t you know that I’m Angelina Jolie? Well, the Aniston curse is starting to take its toll on my face and three of my kids are conspicuously not Asian at this moment. Be a hero, be a hero…

Oh, I see now. We can board after those with wheelchairs, pilot licenses, Birkin bags, speech impediments, a Diet Coke, pedicures, neck pillows, a Lonely Planet book, Cinnabuns, skateboards, a French accent, or freckles. Be a hero, be a hero…

We’re not seated together. Reseating a passenger is going to be difficult? Yes, the oldest is three. He’s not quite ready for a Scotch and a Wall Street Journal; I mean, he’s not Suri Cruise here.

Barreling down the runway. Kid’s forehead is beaded with sweat. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the in-flight fever. Forgot to put a diaper on the dubiously potty trained one. Be a hero, be a hero

Flight lands on time, which would be a relief if Chicago O’Hare were our final destination. Kids, it’s another airport adventure! Brace yourself for an exhilarating safari past glistening tile, and uniform seating, and women who wear silken neck ties. No, no, no, don’t do the Floor Drop Sit of Death and Immobility.  Be a hero, be a hero…

Not even bothering to seek out the stoic and muscled male passenger best suited to escort my children from a burning fuselage should I die since I’m focusing all of my telekinetic energy upon my overhead bin in hopes that the door will spring open and the fake Louis Vuitton bag of a passenger – who was surely allowed to board the plane before us – collides with my frontal lobe. Be a hero, be a goddamn hero…

We have begun our descent into Boston Logan airport. I would bring our seat-backs and tray tables into their full and upright position if I were not terrified to disturb my children who just finally fell asleep.

We made it. Wheels down. I was a hero! Cross-country flights with toddlers and a layover through the night is hero stuff! Perhaps not one of the great heroes, like Harriet Tubman or those dogs who cross-species nurse a mouse. But a less impressive hero. Like an Enrique Iglesias hero. I can kiss away pain. I can take breath away.

Mostly because I need the airbag to release.


(traveled with kids on your own?)