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.