The visit to Idaho went much more smoothly than I thought it would. I had worried about the airport security, whether the Seattle TSA would harass me, if the full body scanner would microwave my baby or if I would be impregnated by the end of the full body pat-down. But there was no fried baby or bumped uglies, just friendly agents who cooed at my baby. Other passengers asked if I needed help, asked if I needed my stroller pushed or my diaper bag ferried on board. I declined but thanked them for offering which is what I always do when shown some kindness. I don’t want to be jerkface mom who removes the unfiltered cigarette from her black-liplinered mouth just to yell, “I DON’T NEED NO HELP!”
The man next to me on the plane moved so TJ and I could have both seats to ourselves. The flight was loud and bumpy and my baby squirmed, rubbed his eyes then fell asleep. it was the most effective yet expensive sleep method I’ve ever used. Who needs to pay the mortgage and utilities when a $$$ flight will get my kid to sleep through the night, upgrade me to MVP Gold status and land us both in Dutch Harbor, Alaska? I am only seeing silver linings here.
Boise was a quaint town with people who loved enormous trucks and Boise State University flags. My family was incredibly welcoming and remarked how sweet of a baby I had and how I looked so much like my grandmother. Only one person–the wife of a relative–uttered the dreaded words: “YOU USED TO BE FAT!” No matter what I accomplish in life, whether career or motherhood, someone will remind me that I used to star on the show, “16 and Pregnant…With A Food Baby!” Even when I was winning speech and debate competitions in high school, there were those who would point out to my face how fat I was, even as their own children morphed into bodies much larger than mine and their names were on school suspension lists, not award plaques. So when this woman said so bluntly that I used to be fat, even as she handed me cash and asked me to buy her a pack of Kool cigarettes because she didn’t have her ID, I was suddenly pulled into that what the flying eff feeling, the same way I felt back home when people were so phenomenally rude. If it’s a compliment, “Hey, you used to be fat, but not anymore!” there’s a better way to say it. Let’s be in the present tense, “Damn girl, you so fine!” or “2010 Mona, you are hot.”
That said, no one else mentioned my body of yore. All the talk focused on my aunt, how sweet she was, how kind. There were touching memories of her motherhood and grandmotherhood. Her service was poignant. After the mass, the police-escorted funeral procession made its way up the hills to the cemetery. Our boots weaved through snow and mud until we were all gathered around my aunt’s grave. We placed white roses on her casket, said our goodbyes in words and song.
The next day my mom and I made our way to Seattle. We arrived at the airport two hours early for the 2 PM flight, but it took just about that much time until we boarded. There was some trouble with my mom’s ticket then when we had only about twenty minutes to board, my mom hesitated before going through Boise’s full-body scanner, asking quizzically, “Is this going to see my bahhh-deeee?!?” I was already on the other side of the checkpoint, calming a crying baby and trying to collect all of our seventeen million items from the conveyer belt. Then I saw my mom being escorted to a bench, a female TSA agent softly explaining to her the pat-down procedure. I rushed over and asked if the procedure could be reset, if she could just go back and walk through the scanner because she just didn’t understand. The agent shook her head and said no. She and my mom entered into a private room to continue. We only had minutes left and why would my mom not just WALK THROUGH! a scanner that took just SECONDS! I DO NOT KNOW! Why she would ask about the scanner right at that moment we needed to be boarding the plane and not in the WHOLE HOUR we had right before I DO NOT KNOW!
When she emerged, she said something about how she watched the news and was worried, which is a valid concern, but when we have only minutes to board and we are traveling with an infant, it is not the time to ask about the nano-second scanner and it is definitely NOT the time to tell the TSA agent that the Chamorro language is similar to Spanish, only their word for “horse” is “caballo,” pronounced “cah-bah-yo” and we pronounce it as “cah-bah-zoo.” NOT THE TIME!
Then as we got on board, I asked the older gentleman seated next to me if he would kindly move so my mother and I could sit together. He loudly refused, grunting out, “I HAVE TO MOVE MY STUFF!” He was so pissed off that I would even dare request him to switch seats. I tried to reason with him that if he moved, he wouldn’t have to sit next to a baby! A baby that would cry! Still he brusquely refused, even when the flight attendant attempted asking him to move as well. He wouldn’t be separated that far from his precious overhead baggage that he would be able to get anyway! It’s not like moving a few rows down would throw a huge wrench into his plan to be the first person off the plane. Maybe he was late for the jerk convention or needed to make a delivery at the jerk store where they were all out of him! During the flight when TJ did cry and cough, I patted his back but his mouth? DIRECTED AT SIR JERKFACE.
I saw that he had a wedding ring. Maybe his wife had left long ago but he didn’t want to expose the deep groove underneath, the white band of skin that would never go away. His house is lonely. She had taken the dog with her, not because she loved that mutt but because it was what would hurt him most. Each day he calls the catalog company, telling far-off operators that the recipient doesn’t live there anymore and the current resident doesn’t care about down comforters or wooden necklaces. He’s been meaning to get a new mattress. He says it’s old, hurts his hip, but really he wants one that doesn’t have the imprint of her body, no memory of a second person, nothing that would add to a list of what buries him every day.