So here we are, in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky, that is, to those of you unfamiliar with state nicknames, bluegrass or America. We are visiting Randi's family, and in a few days we are going to attend her ten year college reunion, at Centre College. Centre, heretofore little known outside of the Midwest has recently been named a top-15 school by none other than Forbes.com. I attended Wesleyan University. We did not place in the top 15. Randi has had some fun with this fact, as you can imagine. But, then again, I didn't bother to attend my ten year reunion, either, and Randi literally CANNOT WAIT to go to hers. So maybe there's something to all this Centre stuff.
Last week leading up to the trip was kind of the stuff of nightmares. I had lots of extra work to do, as I fought off a bad cold. Late nights, and tons of busy work equals more sickness every time. Our flight left at 7:30 a.m. from LaGuardia to go to Louisville, so we, of course had to split at the break of dawn, and wake up the baby at 4:30 or so. The car was to come at 5:15 a.m., and everything with a child takes more time, much more.
Good thing I was awake from the night before. More or less. I don't stay up partying all night like I used to, about 100 years ago, I was awake working on a story. The night before I was also awake until 1:00 a.m. or so, on another story. Loose ends before the trip. But doing all this stuff just made me feel more run down.
So I awoke the troops at 4:30 a.m., turning the tables on Stella for once. She looked amazed, as she groggily rubbed her eyes. Her appearance seemed to say, "No, I wake YOU up, you don't wake me up!" But wake her up I did.
From there we double checked all the extra baby gear. We tried to pack as light as possible, but it is kind of relative, packing light, when you're packing, uh, a child. I can bring three pairs of pants, three shirts, some shoes, and a toothbrush and I can spend two weeks anywhere. Not so with a kid, you have to bring everything in the world you might ever need, including all their various medicines, and creams, and aspirators, and diaper bags, and so on. It stacks up. And we had to fit it into the same amount of bags as before, because the airlines now charge an extra $15 for each checked bag. Yeah, like that'll help them.
At 5:10 a.m. we went downstairs, Randi carrying a backpack and a baby, me carrying all else. There was no car, I thought, until Randi pointed out the turned off Town Car across the street. I walked over, knocked on the window, and the dozing car service guy awoke, about as reluctantly as Stella did.
Of course the extra system for clipping in Stella's safety seat wasn't there, despite us being promised that over the phone. So we fastened her in using the middle lap belt and her car seat, which freaked us out. Randi yelled at the guy, but since it wasn't in his language I don't think he understood what she said, although I am quite sure the tone was unmistakable.
Making matters worse we in fact almost got into a fender bender on the way to the airport. It was one of those moments, where you see the slowing traffic fast, and then the brake is slammed and you pray you have enough time. I will say this, my nose, formerly full, drained in about a millisecond, as we got closer and closer to the other fender. That is what fear feels like. And quite suddenly we were all wide awake, including, thank God, our driver. But we narrowly avoided a collision, and the rest of the ride was without event.
At the airport we started to self check our bags, although our efforts were quickly cut short but a stylishly dressed Dominican woman who worked for the airline, who told us that whatever it was we were doing, we were going about it the wrong way. Then I was directed to the baggage check in area, and was instructed on how I should repack my bags so we can carry them all in, and avoid the check in fees. I did it, but it was a tight squeeze.
Once back we were told to speak to a woman behind a counter, which is I think what Randi was trying to do before the Dominican corrected us. The nice woman behind the counter then made boarding passes for all of us, including Stella. That's a first, I thought. She gets her own boarding pass! She's arrived.
After we received the customary gynecological spread check walking through the X-ray machines we were free to go to our gate, at last. We were carrying two rolling suitcases, a stroller with a child safety seat inside it, a backpack, a large canvass bag and a six month old baby. Sometimes it felt like it was our luggage that was going on vacation, and we were just the way it got there.
Once sitting Randi got some breakfast, a McDonald's Southern Style chicken biscuit. In other words, a complete Chick Fil-A knockoff. I'd had one months ago, and swore to never repeat that mistake.
So five minutes later I'm eating my Southern Style chicken biscuit. It tasted about as good as I remembered.
The terminal was mostly empty, although the TVs were blaring, as always. More news about the presidential campaign, more news about the financial meltdown. Just another weekday, in other words. Then they called out that it was time to board.
"Passengers with children are invited to board first," the woman at the microphone announced. Wow, another first. It's almost like we are now part of some kind of elite. An elite that is comprised of the majority of adults in the world. But I'll take it.
To be continued ...