In the darkness of 6:15 a.m. in my parents’ guest room, my cell phone alarm rescued me from a dream in which I had very strange neighbors and was worried about killing a houseplant because I’d forgotten to water it. I awoke to two weeBots sleeping nearby, both of whom I’d soon be responsible for getting onto and off of two airplanes without letting them starve, dehydrate, melt down, fall down an escalator, put a hand in a public toilet, or get lost. Reality wasn’t too far removed from the subconscious version, except in real life, my roommates were shorter and even stranger than my neighbors, and the stakes were higher.
Less than two hours later, The Guru (that would be Dad) and I lugged my retinue to the car (two boys, two bears, two bags, two carry-ons–The Guru likened us to Noah’s Ark and I suddenly wondered if the actual flood had been the least of Noah’s worries).
Everything went brilliantly, with the exception of a phone call as we were stepping out the door, which my mother answered, to hear a voice saying, “This is an automated call from Delta with information about your cancelled flight.”
My mother called to me in a voice in which disbelief battled with horror.
And then she started laughing. “Well of course I believed you! It’s happened before!” she wailed with relief into the phone.
The call was from my sister, Susan.Susan figured that if The Guru had answered the phone, he would have just hung up and dropped us at the airport anyway, vanishing in a burst of battery power. But Nanny answered it, and, when she didn’t recognize her firstborn’s version of an automated voice, my sister fell victim to her own success and collapsed in fits of hilarity at her own hilariousness. This sort of occurrence is common in my family. The skies were clear. We arrived at the airport well ahead of take-off time. At security, Mbot loaded Junepbear into a plastic bin and then Sprucebear into a plastic bin and then Gbot’s coat into a plastic bin. The fifty-minute flight to Salt Lake City was preternaturally uneventful. Mbot stared at photos from the movie in the dog-eared paperback 1977 edition of Star Wars that Nanny had conjured from the attic. He pushed the buttons on his armrest and pretended he was an astronaut. Gbot colored and ate Goldfish. In the Salt Lake City airport, I paid for the calm with Bots Running Wild–partially my fault: I chose a decaf mocha over full control (holding a coffee cup leaves you one-handed). On the ninety-minute flight to Phoenix, while Mbot watched Tom and Jerry chase each other on the DVD screen, Gbot played with the in-case-of-emergency folder in the seat pocket in front of him and then I had to make up a lie about why there was a picture of fire in it. (Someone was blowing a cigarette (Bot-speak) and that’s against the rules.) I actually opened up my computer and was able to work for nineteen minutes (first time on a flight since Mbot was born. I was feeling Good. I was feeling In Control. ) Then Gbot’s apple juice spilled and then the seatbelt sign came on, which initiated an extremely loud ten-minute rebellion on the part of a damp and apply-smelling Gbot against his seat belt during descent. I arrived at Sky Harbor Airport without Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We joyfully reunited with Husbot, who carried his long lost Bots and promised to play their favorite game, Hide From the Dragon. Then he drove us all back home, at which point I was plunged back into real life: how were we going to deal with the dog’s persistent rug-soiling, the dishwasher’s sudden and mysterious leak, and the antique cat’s new adoption of the dining table as a bed? Walking in the door, I found the contents of the bathroom drawers piled on my side of the bed (Husbot had been cleaning–difficult to complain…), and Husbot mentioned several home-improvement plans that require further lengthy discussion, particularly on the subject of budgetary constraints, and the pile of mortgage paperwork awaits. The anchors of responsibility. I feel an extremely loud sputterfuss coming on as I descend into my daily life. I do not want to remain securely seated; I want to jump up and find the aisle and run free. Not completely free, of course. I don’t want to get lost. And that’s the alternative. How do you feel when you get home from vacation?