Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jumping on hotel beds

"You are my favorite travel buddy", I whispered into Zoe's ear after we had settled into the shared ride at exactly 2:50am, taking off for Newark airport. She had woken up immediately as I gently touched her, put on her skirt and sweater herself (she had slept in the rest of her clothes to make this easier), and taken down her little owl suitcase from 4th floor herself. Without as much as a whinge. We chatted about houses and cars and lights as the driver took us to our way-too-early-but-cheap flight.

Zoe and I are off to a conference in Vancouver where I have a paper, and a workshop to attend. Since I'm alone with her in New York, I have no option but to bring her, which is also my preference. There are two simple reasons for why I like to take her 4000 miles across the country and pay close to a 1000 dollars for her to be with me: Firstly, I don't want to lose out on any time with her these days. With her dad wanting her 50% of the time, I am making the most of it, even if it means having to go home early from the conference dinner and see few actual research presentations. The other reason is that not only is she easy to travel with, she is simply a delight (to paraphrase my 90 year old aunt) to travel with. She hardly ever complains and sees everything as fun exploration and reminiscing with me because we have most likely been on that type of plane, in that specific airport and bought that type of airplane snack before. She cried exactly twice, once when she squeezed her finger in-between her suitcase handle and the suitcase, and once when I interrupted her and asked the shop assistant if they had a different type of sushi rolls. Zoe wanted to explain to me exactly what she wanted and I just overruled her, leading to her frustration. I apologized and we were good again. She got the sushi she wanted (we flew via SFO, which has a great sushi place where I have been many times) and we ran to the gate, boarding as the last people.

Onboard the first flight, she quickly fell asleep together with me, her cuddling up on my lap, me nodding most of the way. When we woke up the plane was shaking from turbulence and I hate that. The big secret about me, (and yes, I recognize the irony) is that I actually *hate* flying [blush]. I am just plain scared to fall down. This also feeds into the desire for me to always fly with Zoe because the thought becomes slightly more bearable that we should both fall down together. But Zoe held my hand and comforted me. She suggested we watch some tv on the iPad because that usually helped her, she said and we did. I was very relieved when we hit the ground safely.

On the second flight we reached a milestone. Normally, my attention has to be devoted mostly to her, even if she is watching cartoons or playing on her iPad, and if she is sleeping it is mostly on my lap, limiting my movement. This time, however, she watched cartoons (with my noise canceling headphones) so focused that I pulled out my computer and proceeded to write on a journal article that I'm working on at the moment. I managed to write almost a page, something I have never done on a plane with Zoe before.

We landed and walked the kilometer and a half from the gate to immigration where we had to take the non-resident queue. It took us 30-40 minutes to reach the front, which Zoe patiently waited out with only a bit of complaints. I cursed the officers and fellow passengers for not pulling out the mom traveling with two kids, one 1 1/2 year old who did NOT have 30 minute's patience. But obviously everyone in front of her felt it was more appropriate to listen to the little one crying for most of the time. Finally, it was our turn and I proudly walked up with our rainbow passports. "Where is her father", the young attractive officer asked. "New York", I answered shortly. "Do you have a letter from him?" I froze for a bit. I normally always travel with a letter, I make sure other people traveling with Zoe have a letter but this was just a short trip within the same continent and I had not even thought about bringing passports until two days before. I sighed. "You are actually the first one ever asking for that", I replied honestly and received the obvious "you should always travel with a letter" but after a few more questions he let us through. I joked with a friend later that I was now the child-smuggler.

Zoe jumped eagerly on the hotel bed as we finally got in and we both went to bed early after a long successful travel day.

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