My mom said her check-in was at 8 AM, so she told me to be at the airport no later than 5. She’s always checked in three hours early, a routine she’s kept long before it was necessary. And I inherited that fear of being late. As a kid, I would hyperventilate if I thought I was going to be tardy. Now, I still have dreams in which I can’t get to work because I’m in another country. I wish I could have a talk with my subconscious and let it know that dream time is reserved for Colin Firth fantasies, not matri-induced nightmares.
I arrived at the airport at 5:45 AM and couldn’t find my mother or brother’s family. I called my brother who said, “We’re just leaving the 7-11.”
“Oh you mean the 7-11 near your house?!?!”
“Yeah. We’ll be there soon.”
“Oh that’s funny because someone told me to be here at 5. AND HERE I AM!”
To work off the headache that resulted from waking up before I had to, I made rounds in the terminal, pushing Nathan’s stroller past sleeping travelers, their heads resting on messenger bags and bunched-up coats. We walked by women who had woken up much earlier than I did to put on their make-up. The last time I traveled, I had a huge sty so instead of putting on make-up, I would say to gawking looky-loos, “Oh, you think this is bad? You should see the other guy.”
Nathan was no longer impressed with the changing faces or the brightly light shops. He threw out his sippy bottle (we screwed on an Avent ring and nipple onto a sippy cup. Genius! Victory is mine!). It rolled in front of us until it reached the feet of a little five-year-old boy. The kid didn’t see me rushing over and lifted his elephant foot to crush the bottle.
“No-no-no-no!” I hollered, afraid that maybe the kid had forgotten that this was the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, not a Jewish wedding.
“That’s his!” Pointing to my son, who would not appreciate a broken sippy bottle.
Then the kid lifted the bottle and smiled at me. His mother turned her back to catch her son’s kind offer. “That’s so nice of you Lex Luthor.” Actually, he had a sweet-sounding boy name, but after his foiled bottle stomp, he fit the profile of Superman’s arch-nemesis, not a kid making a nice gesture.
I nodded, grabbed the bottle and continued. What was I supposed to say? Argue with a five-year-old over what he may or may not have done? You can’t really make a case for yourself when you’re wearing last night’s make-up.
When my brother finally arrived with his wife, son and my mother, we escorted her to the passenger line and followed her through the entire boarding maze. I had never done this before, making me worry that I had been making a mistake all these years I’ve dropped my mother off at the “ENTER HERE” sign. Did she want to be followed for thirty minutes until I had to duck under the rope before I was asked for a boarding pass? With my mother, all good deeds are negated easily. For every screw-up, you must complete five soul-sucking errands like driving 40 miles to deliver a dozen glazed doughnuts without the glaze.
But she’s a funny woman, my mother. The other night, I held my camera up to take a picture of the two of us. I said, “SAY ‘MYSPACE’!”
“AI, NO!” she snapped. “I don’t want to see this on the internet!”
“I didn’t say anything about the internet, mom. I said, ‘SAY NICE FACE!'”