On the way to the airport, I kept asking Jude if he was ready for our Big Adventure. That’s how I decided to look at our upcoming flight, just the two of us. I had been worried about it for weeks, trying to imagine how on earth I would get anything out of his diaper bag during the flight…I wouldn’t be able to bend over and reach anything while holding him on my lap. How would I use the tiny restroom on the plane while holding him? How would I carry everything onto the plane and off again? My husband was on another flight, flying standby, so I labeled Jude’s and my first solo trip as an Adventure with a capital A. It would be fun, not stressful, I vowed!
Getting through Security wasn’t bad - I got to use the special lane and take my own sweet time. The next two hours until boarding were filled with Jude crawling around on the ground at an unused gate, playing with the stroller’s wheels and chasing a half-empty water bottle. Even boarding wasn’t too bad. A nice lady pushed the stroller down to the plane and folded it up for me.
Then we went inside to search for a seat.
I had hoped we could sit on the bulkhead, so that I could get up easily during the flight whenever I wanted. The seats on the right were taken, but on my left there was a woman sitting in the aisle seat, and a small bag sat on the center seat next to her. The window seat was empty.
“Are these seats taken?” I asked, gesturing with my elbow toward the seats by her. I shifted Jude in my arms and tried to relieve my shoulder that was carrying the burden of an overfilled diaper bag, a soft cooler of baby food, a bed pillow, and my purse.
She paused a moment, then answered, “yes.”
In that very instant, during her pause of hesitation, I realized she was lying. Lying through her teeth, past her tight black stretch pants, oversized flip flops, and thick Jersey accent.
I looked pointedly at the empty seat. “That window seat there – that one is taken?”
Another pause. The woman glanced over at the seat and changed her mind. “No,”she mumbled.
Wow. I could have gotten angry at this woman, but I was too happy about getting the very seat I wanted. Jude was asleep, so I put the bed pillow on the empty seat, laid Jude on it, and held him in place with one hand. My bags dropped to the floor with a thud as I looked up to see who could help me get my things into the overhead bin.
Just then the woman’s son returned to occupy the center seat. Yea! Someone who could help! “Do you mind putting this in the overhead for me?”
The bald son glanced over and then replied while he strapped himself into his seat, “There’s no room. It’ll have to go way back there.” He gestured toward the back of the plane with one hairy hand.
I didn’t respond. I never have been able to give people smart retorts because I’m always so surprised when people are rude or uncaring. So I stood there a moment, still bending over and holding Jude on the seat with one hand, wondering if maybe a flight attendant could help me.
Just then a woman’s blonde head poked up from the seat behind Stretch-pants-lady. “I can put it up there for you!” She stood, took my bags, and fit them in the overhead directly above my seat.
“Thank you so much!” I was so glad to have a savior! Before I picked up Jude and sat down, I noticed that the seat next to her was taken by a small boy who obviously had some physical disabilities. That woman knew how it felt to be denied help when you need it. No wonder she came to my rescue. She even gave the back of the son’s bald head a dirty look for good measure.
And during the whole nearly five-hour flight, Jude was great. We slept and played and ate and talked and thumbed our noses at the rude people next to us.
And I’m happy to report that while eating, Jude sneezed exactly when I was holding a full spoonful of peas up to his mouth. Old baldy had to ask the flight attendant for more napkins for his arm and pants.
As an end note, I am happy to report that Jude loved the ocean, my husband was able to join us, and even George had a nice vacation at my friend’s house while we were gone. And on the way back, our seatmate was a nice hairdresser from Houston. Jude didn’t spit food on this guy.