It was a perfect storm, a domino effect that began to topple all the best laid plans.
The plan wasn’t complicated. My friend Leslye, her 14-month old daughter, Baby S, and I were to fly to Detroit, rent a minivan, and meet up with Leslye’s friend, Kim who was flying in from St. Louis, Missouri. The following day we are to drive to Lansing, Michigan and empty out a storage unit that Leslye had for years and was tired of paying for, then adventure to Iowa, Ohio and then drive back to Denver. Kim is to fly out the day after we get back.
We were to meet up at my house at 7:15 a.m., so I was standing at the ready by 7:10 a.m. The plan went sideways almost immediately — Leslye ran into traffic about half way to my house and was nearly an hour late. Then, when we got to the airport, one of the long-term parking garages was closed, which meant that the other one was super full. We drove and drove and drove until we reached an actual free space — it felt like we were almost in Kansas. By the time we checked in all the luggage, got our boarding passes, got through security, and began to half-walk, half-jog to the proper gate, it was less than five minutes till boarding.
At the start of the day, I envisioned getting on the plane right after Group A, because of the baby, getting seats, maybe, if the plane wasn’t too full, an extra seat for all of Baby S’s stuff. But because of traffic, we didn’t get a chance to stop for food, and everyone was hungry. Plus, because we were running super late in the airport, Baby S’s diaper was reaching its limit of saturation. A hungry, wet-diapered baby who was woken up ridiculously early — S was not a happy camper. While Leslye and daughter went down to the gate, I stopped by McDonald’s to get oatmeal and a scrambled egg. By the time I was loping toward the gate, I had managed to miss a phone call, a frenetic voice message and a text from Leslye saying, “Forget the food, they’re going to leave without us!”
They didn’t, but we had to settle for two seats wherever. Leslye was in the front row, and I wound up, thanks to a kindness of a stranger, right behind her, between two large men. Now, I am not a small woman (short, yes, small, no), so I wound up sitting upright, holding the McDonald’s bag, Leslye’s small purse, my purse and my backpack.
I gave Leslye oatmeal, but Baby S was as tired as she was hungry, so she had a few bites, then started fussing. This evolved into a full-blown screaming cry. Leslye went into the teeny-tiny bathroom to change her baby’s diaper, while there was turbulence and S screamed, filling the miniscule room with her outrage and fear. When they came back to the seat, the baby continue to scream and cry, and cry and scream.
Leslye was fantastic throughout the crying, she talked quietly and soothed and held and pacified her the best she could. After an hour, S finally cried herself into a sort of a catatonic state. I looked in on her, thinking that she finally cried herself asleep, but no, she was awake, but beyond exhausted. Later, Leslye said that S had never, ever behaved like that. But seeing what she went through, her behavior was completely normal and understandable.
We got off the plane, went to pick up luggage, then the rental minivan — luckily the rental place had water, so we chugged a few bottles, as well as “water” Stockard.
Then we went to get some snacks for ourselves, then back to the airport to pick up Kim — all this in a huge downpour. Welcome to Detroit!
Now, from the comfort of the couch of our AirB&B, I can look back and say, today was a really long-ass day. Almost nothing went according to plan. Nothing was perfect, nor ideal, but damn, we survived it. I wanted adventure, but I think the Universe overcompensated.