Our vacation last week started out like every other vacation I’ve ever taken – with me ferociously cleaning the house that we wouldn’t set foot in again for six days. I’m not sure why I feel the need to scrub the enamel off the toilets when I leave town; it might have something to do with being 99% sure every plane I step onto is going to go down in flames. And I’ll be damned if my mourning relatives are going to know I keep a dirty house.
And let me tell you – it was a di-her-her-HER-rty house. It’s been a while since I’ve Out of Town cleaned and I found dirt in places God didn’t intend. A thought I’ve also had more times than not in a camp ground shower, by the way. But eventually the dirt came loose and I could make out my belly button and our house was ready for my post-wake reception.
“What a woman!” I imagine they’ll say, running white fingered gloved fingers along my mantle in mind blowing amazement amid cat fights over who will be bequeathed my sparkling china. “Three little kids and she still managed to keep her black stovetop entirely crumb-free! What a shame the world lost such a beauty.”
Incidentally, I’m also 99% certain that at any moment the hotel concierge is going to seek me out just as I begin to relax on the beach to tell me my house burned down because I forgot to blow out a candle, making my hours of scrubbing obsolete. Because I don’t know why – it’s a messy, scary place inside my head. YOU try to figure me out.
So with our kids safely delivered to my parents’ house and the sheets ironed and lightly scented, we departed for the airport. The last time my husband and I traveled alone on a plane together was our babymoon five years ago when I was pregnant with our eldest daughter. Which, if you’ve never been pregnant on a plane, I highly recommend. By that point I was flying once or twice a month for my job and became quite the pregnant flying sociology expert. I would try to seek out men traveling alone with a moustache and a briefcase. Every few minutes I would look at my watch, hold my stomach and take frequent shallow breaths. It was hilarious.
Five years ago we didn’t look at vacation as we do now. Five years ago we booked a trip with the same enthusiasm of changing socks. It’s not that we didn’t appreciate vacation – we both had stressful jobs and needed a break – but we also had the leisure of being able to actually stop the grocery cart to pick through the apples vs. grabbing a handful as you sprint by because someone started to pee their pants in the grocery cart. Five years ago we ate dinner alone every night and spent hours talking about everything that happened in our day, laughing and finishing entire sentences with our only interruption the waitress asking if we’d like another glass of wine. Now we just give recaps with the brevity and pace that would give the Micro Machines man a run for his money.
As we sat at the gate waiting to board, my first indication something was wrong was when the airport worker came on the intercom and said, “Something is wrong.” We had been talking non-stop since the car ride and I hadn’t even noticed that we were supposed to have taken off ten minutes ago.
I must make her understand. We were parents on the edge. I didn’t know what was wrong with the plane but I was confident if they would just let me take a quick peek under the hood I could get her up and running with nothing but my sheer desperation. We had to get to Mexico. That day. Rapido. I went to the counter to plead my case.
“It’s been five years since we’ve been on vacation! We’ve already paid for our hotel! I Vacation Cleaned my house! I starved myself within two pounds of my Weight Watchers goal! I de-furred my bikini line and 3-day razor burn waits for no woman!” My eyes began drifting in opposite directions and she backed away slowly.
We spent the next twenty minutes leaning over the service counter breathing down the neck of the woman trying to reschedule us on a different airline.
“Hmmm… gosh,” she would say, shaking her head, furrowing her brow and clicking her tongue as she looked at her screen. Then, a half second later, just as I was on the brink of sob-vomiting, her eyes would light up and she would say something like, “Okay! I’ve got it all figured out and we are actually going to get you there even faster than before! Why were you worried?” And as our butt cheeks unclenched and we had a glimmer of relief that everything was going to be okay, a shadow would fall over her face and she would say, “Ohhhh. Nevermind. Today is Monday, isn’t it? I don’t know why I thought it was Tuesday! Isn’t that crazy? Ahahaha!” And then go back to the shaking, furrowing, clicking that made me want to sob-vomit.
That happened about twelve times.
By the time she gave us our boarding passes for a flight on another airline which would put us in Mexico three hours later than originally planned we had collectively experienced eight heart attacks between the two of us. I was literally mentally spent and it was 10:15am. We went to the airport bar to unwind.
Also I knew there was about a -5% chance that our luggage was going to make it; in the commotion of quickly changing our flight she incorrectly booked and un-booked us on three different flights, calling each time to switch our luggage. Wine makes me not care about things like toothbrushes and underwear and life.
When we finally arrived in Mexico seven hours later, we had each gotten drunk, passed out and sobered up three separate times. I could have cared less about our missing luggage at that point; Nick, on the other hand, did not take the news well. The little vein that pumps blood into his brain looked like it was doing the Harlem Shake.
“They said they’ll deliver it to our hotel tomorrow by 7am,” I said as we left the baggage claim area. “I tell you what. How about I get us a couple of beers from the beer shack outside and you go find our van.”
Walking through the airport I did a quick mental inventory of the contents of my bag. Swimsuit? I could get a new one. Hopefully they had something other than those ones that go up the butt. Sandals? I’m sure there are tons of sandals everywhere. The airline gave us some toiletries and a t-shirt; what more could I need for a beach vacation?
Proud of myself with how relaxed I was about not having a bag for the next five days I thought, “Wow… I’m so laid back! Must be the Zolo…”
Suddenly everything wasn’t okay.
This was bad. My mind raced back to four months ago when I got the worst idea ever and decided I didn’t need it anymore. Things were fine until they weren’t and before I knew it I lost my temper and ripped the head off a Barbie and threw her out the back door. I looked over at Nick – so oblivious to the fact that he was a dead man walking.
Suddenly it felt like the airport walls were closing in on me but then I just realized I was being swarmed with people trying to sell me snorkeling stuff. We tried to push past and politely explain we weren’t interested and were having a less than great flying experience but were literally cornered by men who hadn’t lost an entire afternoon at the beach and knew where their next dose of happy pills were coming from.
My Spanish is a little rusty but I knew enough to say, “I have an air rifle and he has a hamster”… they let us pass.
We silently sipped our beers as we sat on the curb outside the airport waiting for our ground transportation, each lost in our own thoughts from the day.
“Cheers,” I said to Nick, holding out my can.
“What should we cheers to?” He asked.
“This country’s complete unregulation of prescription drugs and the ease at which we can find them.”
But black market prescriptions weren’t necessary. The next morning our luggage arrived at our hotel, allowing me to spend five relaxing days with my two true loves.