Thursday, November 09, 2006


Air travel reminds me of field trips of my youth in terms of special indulgences. I grew up in a home with no sugared cereals, with carrot sticks and early bedtimes. Lunch was an onion bagel with tuna fish (now, that's a friend-maker), sometimes an apple, in a paper bag. All crafted by my father, since there is no way that my mother had the time nor the stomach to deal in tuna at such an early hour. I longed for my friend Tamar's lunch, where a white bread sandwich was nestled beside a Devil Dog or Funny Bone (which is a peanut butter relative of the Yodel). And a box of orange drink, not juice.

Rules were suspended on field trip days. My mother would pull out all the stops - a can of soda, bag of greasy chips, tooth numbing candy like Nerds or Gobstoppers. I don't know why she chose to celebrate field trips in this way, but I loved it. My mother is very good at creating celebration out of the mundane, or even the painful. On the ocassion of an abnormal pap smear, she greeted me with deep crust pizza and a shopping spree at Macy's.

Where was I? Field trips. So, as a bus rolled towards a museum of some sort I would clutch a bag filled with goodies that I was never generally able to partake in. This is how I handle air travel. I hate to fly. The lines, the anxiety. The stale coffee grind smell of the airplane. As a child, I would regularly vomit into the bags that they no longer provide. To me, it's all very turbulent. To offset this, I create my own indulgences. I always dress up for an airplane. As a teen, I was convinced I would meet a boyfriend at an airport. I would play it all out in my mind -- our eyes meeting, he would be flying to the same destination as me, and I would abandon my family for a week long romance. So I always tried to look my best when traveling. It never happened, but I still pull myself together to fly. I admire the women who wear the patent leather loafers, the jeans, the crisp blazers and white shirts. The glittering engagement rings, manicures and Louis Vuitton luggage. They touch up their lip gloss before landing. My own spin is far less glamorous but is still purposeful.

And I spend lots of money at the airport newssttand. Unless it's Jet Blue, I can not fly without a thick stack of magazines. I know they are overpriced, and I could buy them in advance, but it would take away from my ritual. I ususally choose In Style and Glamour because they are the fattest, though I never read them at any other time. And I load up on candy and snacks. I easily spend $20 at the airport for travel supplies.

Traveling with a baby, you would think that I would stray from routine. But I can't - at least not until I have to travel alone with her. A holds her, as she squirms for activity. And I bury myself beneath glossy pages, sucking on a Starburst, and silently pleading with him not to talk to me until it's all over.


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