*Apology note: I am finding, as many new bloggers, that:
(1) Cake > blogging,
(2) “Life” (keeping a small human alive, The Wire (so late to the party), removing small objects from a small human’s mouth, defending the serial comma, scraping sweet potato off said small human, discovering the color of my parachute, Atonement (embarrassingly late to that party, too), etc.) complicates my commitment to write at least 30 minutes per day, and
(3) #nodiscipline (probably why I can’t find my parachute).
Anyway, onward. Simon and I experienced the trifecta of travel during our first solo journey together: digestive malaise, a missed flight, and a quintet of Icelandic nurses. Really kind and funny Icelandic nurses.
We had scheduled this trip months ago in honor of our dear friends’ wedding. Simon and I would fly to Austin first to see friends, aunties, and grandparents, then we’d meet Kenny in California to celebrate J+S’s nuptials and go soak in the ahhhhh of the Calistoga hot springs. As luck would have it, Simon started to show signs of illness two days before we were scheduled to take off. We made it to Austin without incident, but by the time we settled in at my sister’s house I was singing along with Steve Martin. Everything went straight through our poor little dude, and try as I did to change him immediately, his bum was so irritated that the sight of a diaper and a fistful of wipes sent him into hysterics. I was lucky that we still had a relationship with our Austin pediatrician, and got in to see the nurse fairly quickly–still, it was a sober reminder that it’s not a bad idea to research local pediatricians in advance when traveling away from home.
I could easily fill the rest of this entry with more travel tips and platitudes: be resilient! Sucks to miss your dear friends’ wedding, but baby comes first! Invest in TSA pre-check and they won’t treat your banana puree like an explosive!
But this trip was less about the dos and don’ts of vacation crisis management and much, much more about the people I encountered on our circuitous voyage back home:
(1) Ellen, the angelic flight attendant who, unprompted, brought me a giant bottle of water before takeoff after I collapsed in the last row while lugging [insert list of baby paraphernalia here],
(2) The (somewhat brazenly-helpful) passenger who silently plucked Simon out of my hands and parted the plane like Moses to help me sprint to my connecting flight,
(3) Sylvia, the stranger I evaluated in exactly 2.9 seconds to NOT be a serial killer so I could run to the ticket counter (without Simon) and beg them to please open the gate, the plane is still there, please, the gate, open, not my fault, the plane…
(4) Shannon, the baggage claim attendant who helped locate my luggage so I could have clean underwear for our “unexpected” overnight stay in Denver. As we waited, Shannon looked at Simon and said, “What a beautiful baby. My husband and I make beautiful babies, too.” And then she told me that this week was the 24th anniversary of the death of her infant son, David, and we talked awkwardly, and yet not awkwardly at all, about the loss of our mothers.
(5) Ragna, the Icelandic nurse who also missed her flight. She applauded my efforts to change Simon’s diaper on top of a suitcase in the Colorado evening breeze, and gave me her phone number and email address because, “I am a mother, and I have so many baby things, so you should visit Reykjavik and call me and I will lend you anything you need.”
Simon and I made it home, tired but newly-inspired by America (and decidedly uninspired by Frontier Airlines). We had a similar encounter this weekend on the 4th of July–this time with a Ms. Mai Linh of Falls Church, Virginia. We went for a family field trip to our local Vietnamese shopping center, and stopped to gape at a shopkeeper deftly making sense of the complicated innards of a jack fruit.
As we marveled, another shopper stopped to tell us the origins of the jack fruit, how and where it grew, where to get the best ones, etc. We thanked her, and she smiled and said, “I am so happy to share Vietnamese culture with you! Happy Independence Day!” She walked off with her bags of produce, and two minutes later I impulsively ran after her to pepper her with more questions. By the time Kenny and Simon caught up, Mai Linh had given me a detailed list of instructions: eat at this restaurant and tell them I sent you. Only try the sandwiches at that shop. That nail salon is safe. The market is good, but the Korean supermarket down the street is cheaper. Mai Linh told us she was married “to an American,” and that she was an attorney who did Vietnamese adoptions for free, “because why take their money?” We soon parted ways again, and within ten minutes she was running after us. I heard, “Kate! Kate!” from behind, and there was Mai Linh, this time holding both her groceries and the hand of a tiny man in sandals and a safari hat. “I wanted you to meet my husband, Richard! Welcome to Virginia!”
Kenny and I reflected that Mai Linh made us feel the most patriotic we had in a long time.