Peace of mind has its price. For me those twelve years ago that seem like just yesterday it was $551.
Some people just shouldn’t fly. I should’ve remembered I’ve long been one of them, but it had been 15 or more years since my last flight, and I didn’t have much time to spare between Girl Scout leaders’ training and the start of my daughter’s school.
“Do not go gentle into that good night – Rage, rage…” Dylan Thomas’s adage gripped me as I gripped the armrests and would not let go.
Aboard that plane heaving through turbulence, my rage was raving and impotent, the plane indifferent. Nowhere to get off, no turning back, no relief — nothing to it but get though it. Seeing the flight attendants in no way concerned, just busy in their ordinary ways, in no way lessened the trauma within.
I wanted to kiss solid ground when the plane finally did land in Miami as scheduled, but I didn’t, trying to save face in front of my little girl. On the drive to his family’s home, my brother-in-law admitted he feels the same about flying. As soon as he left to pick up his own kids from school, I burst into fresh tears and lunged for the phone: 1-800-USA-RAIL.
Even though she was only four, my small one and I had been on trains cross-country a few times before. Fingers crossed, I managed to navigate the phone tree to a real person.
Yes, they had a sleeper for the day I wanted — two actually: one on Train 92 for the Miami-to-DC leg, and then, let’s see, yes, another for DC-to-Chicago. My relief knew no bounds, and when the agent asked if there was anything else she could do to help me, I sobbed “Thank you for having a sleeper, and for being there!”
When I got off the phone I was still crying. Morgan took my face between her hands and said (gravely? – bravely?) “Don’t worry, Mommie – you don’t ever have to go onna airplane ever again!” This caused fresh tears, for wasn’t I the adult here?
Jose came home with his children and the girls chased off together, my sister-in-law arrived from work, dinner was made and eaten, just like they always do. Next day my dear one refused the clothing I suggested (“No ‘sorts! Pants!”) despite the 80+-degree heat. We went the flea market to look for size 4T pants (none), but she and her cousins would ride the ponies. We stopped at Doris’s dad’s farmette, where we drank juice straight from the coconut and held baby goats. All along, I kept my emotional turmoil to myself, then and the next five days. We swam in their pool. It was a good visit.
I’ve visited churches and temples, yet never known the degree of peace that enveloped me when, the breeze blowing warm, we were given a ride on an Amtrak people-mover/golf cart-sort-of-thing, and the train pulled up, on time. In boarding, we told car #9211’s attendant, Thanks – we know the way to room 5, see you up there. This was better than any merely familiar spot, like my mother’s favorite kid-friendly bookstore-cafe. This was our home-away-from-home.
Relief flooded me as we set our bags under the seats and settled in for the ride. Long distance travel, especially when somebody else drives, somebody else cooks (in the dining car), and somebody else cleans up, is fabulous. I wanted to hug the whole process, but I tipped everybody instead.