Flying to the District

It's been a while since I've flown somewhere exclusively for vacation.  It's been even long since I've gone on vacation WITH someone.  Mom sits beside me, reading her book and enjoying her in-flight beverage.  We are en route to Washington, D.C. and a week full of activities.  It's the first time for both of us.

The last time I flew anywhere on an airplane with my mother, I was fourteen and the family took a vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  My father had made a bet with his boss that he would make a certain amount of money their first year diverting grocery products and won.  We stayed at the brand-new Swan Hotel on the Disney grounds and had an amazing time.  The memories of that vacation are etched in my mind like a travel brochure of what vacation should be like.  Now I get the opportunity to treat my Mom to what I imagine is her equivalent, what with her love of history and learning.  I feel really good about that.

Any time I travel my mind goes to dozens of places I've been to around the globe and snippets of memory blend in with my surroundings.  My early morning daze at Tulsa International Airport was not unlike waiting in the wee hours for my flight from Prague to London.  The beautiful clouds over Dallas reminded me of the clouds as I flew over Japan.  And the feeling from takeoff never changes; Mom compared it to the rush she gets on the back of a motorcycle (which made me stop and marvel at the thought of my mother on a motorcycle.)

As our flight begins descending, I am filled with the excitement of sharing this great experience with the woman who knows me best in this world.  Paying it back the best I can.



Tomorrow I fly to the District of Colombia with my wonderful mother to take in the sights and history of the nation's capital and more.  We are both tremendously excited; it's hard to believe it's here.  I've been planning for some time.  However, it's on the eve of this event that I'm filled with a strange restlessness I can't quite pin down.

The day started out just fine.  I got up earlier than normal (for a Saturday) and met my old friend Richard at my favorite breakfast diner in town.  I backed his newest novel via Kickstarter and it had finally come in.  We met, talked, and he delivered his book to me.  It was a good way to kick off the weekend.  I got home, started some laundry, and did a little tidying.  At some point, I decided that I was going to spend my day catching up on The Walking Dead, which I hadn't been watching since the series kicked back into gear in February.  The friend I've been watching it with has not been available.  Since I was going to find myself in the position to watch the finale tomorrow live for a change, I'd get ready for it.  So I watched all five episodes I'd missed all in a row, with a short break to go to the store.

I didn't feel anxious when I went to the store.  I decided to get some hot dog buns so I could grill what I had left in the fridge; being gone for the next week meant I'd been eating my rations down to lower-than-normal levels.  It was an easy, quick trip and the weather was perfect for riding.  Got home, grilled, and kicked into the last episode.  It started some time during that, I think; once it had wrapped, I lay on the couch and started wondering what I'd forgotten.  I had a sudden dread that I'd forgotten to do something.  I chalked it up to pre-travel jitters (which happens to even us most seasoned folk) and decided to finish my chores.  I walked out back to put the grill back in it's place when I looked up and noticed the beautiful, fading sky.  The sun was setting and the building clouds were about to light up.  I went back inside, grabbed my keys, and darted for the car.

I got in and took off downtown, eager to get a few good photos of the skyline in the sunset.  However, as soon as I pulled out of the driveway I was talking myself out of it.  "You're too late" I told myself.  I'd missed a literally golden opportunity by sitting inside all day.  I sighed as I turned around and headed back to the house.  I looked up to the sky once more and, just as I was pulling into my driveway, figured it was worth a shot.  I pulled BACK out and drove downtown -- only to find I was, indeed, too late.  By the time I was among the art deco, the clouds had faded to a deep blue and the sunlight was on the horizon.

I was so angry.  Not really at myself, though that was part of it.  Just a general irritation.  I was cussing the endless stoplights and felt my blood pressure escalate.  I drove home, muttering at what I felt was my own stupidity, and pulled back onto my street.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a lovely juxtaposition of the light behind me and the dark clouds ahead; I snapped a picture and was satisfied.  I pulled into the house and sat for a moment.  What in the world was wrong with me?  I had nothing to be upset about.  Everything was okay.  Even my concern from earlier was needless; I was already all packed and double-checked.  If' I'd missed something, surely it was minuscule.

When I came back inside to finish putting everything away, I looked at the table and saw a book I had finished reading a short while back, and my anxiety returned.  The book, called 'A Spot of Bother' is about an older man who thinks he is dying and is slowly losing his mind.  It's written as a dark comedy and I'd wanted to read it as I enjoyed the author's other book.  But when I'd finished this one, I was almost disturbed by it.  I dismissed it as a book I just didn't enjoy, but now I see it as something a little more.  There's a passage where the main character tries to cut off a piece of himself that contains the skin condition that originally convinced him he was cancerous and dying.  The mere thought made my stomach lurch, regardless of the frivolous way it was written.  I can't get the scene out of my head.  On top of that, here's a man who was sick, didn't want to be taken care of, and preferred not to tell anyone how he was really feeling; this man was my father.  Was Dad slowly losing his mind, alone in his apartment, watching old home movies time and time again?

I really miss him.  Maybe that's the basis of all this.  I'm about to take Mom on a wonderful vacation, to a place she's always wanted to go.  Would I still be doing this if I hadn't been awoken to the fact that I could no longer do anything for my father?  I hate feeling like all roads lead back to him.  It's not fair.  Anyway, this is rambly enough as it is.  I'm very excited to board the plane with Mom in the morning and be there when she sees the dome of the Capitol for the first time.  I have so much to share with her.

I'm sure I'll check my bags at least four more times, too.