A few mom friends have asked me how did I do it? All the travel and jetlag and the packing beforehand--with three little kids? How did I keep everyone entertained and out of mischief? Especially when I am also tired of travel.
We've shed a lot of weight from the suitcases over the second half of this year, chucking out used-up toys and bribes along the way. I don't bring along loads of sticker books or glow sticks anymore, and not because having surprises tucked inside my purse has grown stale for the kids. I doubt they'll ever get tired of those old tricks. It's for a more practical reason: I am bored of sneaking out to the dollar store to collect rubbish. Anyway the kids can be expected to take charge of their own entertainment by now, can't they? At least some of the time.
I have gotten in the habit of picking up a book early on, hoping they'll take the hint. I hope for ten minutes of quiet, maybe even twenty.
My son always steals the window seat and when he interferes with my reading I try to direct his attention to his opposite side. "Look out there, you can see...um, clouds! Wow, right?" as if all of us aren't bored with clouds and more clouds for hours on end. The view is not novel after the third or fourth time, and our count is well past that.
Over two months of living in Seattle and I am sick and tired of clouds. Jeremy flew in and out of Washington State about eight times while "commuting" from New York and just once he landed on a clear day and could see each of the three tallest peaks: Mt. Baker, Mt. Hood and of course Mt. Rainier. He was thrilled and I was grouchy because it wasn't fair. On most days, I could completely forget about the mountains; as far as I was concerned, they might as well not have existed because of the stupid cloud cover!
Taking off from Seattle one last time after living there for weeks and weeks, I hoped for--really, I was owed--a spectacular view. I wanted to see, from high up, the water of the lakes and the Sound and the snow on the mountains and all of that, and instead here we are, bumping our way up through the Stupid Clouds. Everything is gray, gray and gray out the windows and nothing else until finally we are above and looking down on that white barrier between the Green and the Great Blue.
And then, for the first time I thought about being in the clouds, and then above them and how those also are views. They are not the same as being underneath. Not everyone gets to lift off and see only wet gray outside because they are at 5,000 or 11,000 or 25,000 feet off the ground and inside clouds.
Next to me is the squirmy boy who is bored, bored, bored and just past him, on the outside is gray and gray and then shining bright yellow and blue. He and I, we are both bored being inside clouds, and then we are bored being above them and looking down. We are bored because the view is so boring.
At 30,000 feet, the airt outside is thinner and we can see only blue and brightness and sometimes we get a peek underneath the clouds where they are thinner. In Texas, our layover is in Houston and it is hazy there and the air is thick and it looks sticky even from so high up. In North Carolina, we finally leave the airport and shops are closing and it is already evening and in the West everything is turning pink because we have just spent a full day flying across the sky.