When I took my children to the community playground yesterday, I felt sort of guilty that they weren’t on some fabulous trip for their school vacation. I thought about us parents who were there on the swings, and what our situations were that made us “stay home” this vacation (aside from vaccines). Was it money? Co-parenting schedules with divorce? Work responsibilities? All of the above?
I thought back to my childhood when I remember being on the “staycation” in Cleveland during spring break, because my parents both worked, and my mom also got her Ph.D. at night. We went to the Museum of Natural History, and we toured Cleveland. We went to the mall, had some meals out (Burger King and Wendy’s were a treat), and I watched TV . I went back to school pale as Casper, while others had a marked sunburn (this was when it was cool to burn in the ’80s). I recall feeling less privileged, which is funny, since I was in a private school (read: privileged) and really want for nothing.
Yesterday, after the playground, my kids and I walked to get ice cream, and I took them to the store for a toy. She got a Rapunzel doll, and he got a Kit Kat and bandages, so he could pretend to be wounded while playing war outside when we got home.
It was a super nice day together, and I know they had fun, but I still felt sort of bad we were “home.”
I know I should not.
Truth is, I asked them: would you want to go somewhere later in the week?
She said, “I don’t like Florida.” (She only says this because of alligator fears)
He shook his head, “no.”
I wonder if they really meant that. I know time together is what counts…
But I couldn’t help wonder if they were trying to make me feel better.
There is a reason “Home” is called “Home,” and I’m not quite sure where mine is right now. I’m sort of in between worlds. See, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio (Go Browns!), but I have lived on Cape Cod every summer of my life– and now year-round for 14 years. That’s a long time! I think I finally qualify for the “local” special at the diner, and I can legit say I hate summer people (even though I don’t–just the traffic).
I’ve lived on Cape Cod longer than I’ve lived anywhere, other than Cleveland (15 years). I spent many years in New York City (10) and Boston (3). But, now, I guess Cape Cod is my home, or well, it’s where I own a house and raise my children and have a job. So that’s home? It doesn’t always feel like it.
The reason I bring this confusion up is this: my partner lives in Cleveland, many of my best friends live here, and a lot of my heart is, well, here.
But my children are not.
I thought about this today when the airplane was landing in Cleveland, and I could see the snow covering the acres of flat ground. The familiar grey sky had cover from Lake Eerie, and I felt a sense of relief.
“Ah, I’m home,” I thought, stepping off the plane and seeing the “Welcome to Cleveland” sign in Hopkins International Airport.
But, when I was taking off in the plane, I cried. I cried because I missed my kids. I saw them this very morning, but I felt so far away, and I was scared. I was scared that maybe something would happen on my flight, and that I’d never see them again. And maybe I was a terrible parent for flying and leaving them behind, even though they are safe with their father for the weekend. I sent my daughter a text on her Gizmo (for those not in the know, a Gizmo is like an Apple Watch for kids, where they can get a call or text from their parents or send a limited set of texts). I said, “I love you so much! I miss you already.” I also texted my parents (who now live on the East Coast).
When I arrived in Cleveland, I was greeted by my boyfriend, and we then met up with my best friend from high school for lunch. It was so nice! I was so happy and thought, “Yay! I am home!” This is where I’m meant to be!
But part of me is missing.
A big part. My kids.
And I know, deep down, this is not where I live. I’m just a visitor.
I just wish it could all be one. I wish I could feel whole in one of the places.
I flew on an airplane recently and everyone seems to ask, “What was it like?!” Well, I’m here to tell you what it’s like. I should begin by saying I’m not exactly the world traveler; Vasco Da Gama has me beat. In fact, prior to last year, at my niece’s wedding in California, I had not been on a plane in seven years. I know this, of course, because when I wheeled my suitcase out from the attic, cobwebs intact, I unzipped it, and my son’s pacifier from when he was 2 fell out! And a baby spider was sucking on it! Wait, no, kidding. But, I think you can imagine then why I didn’t travel after that…It’s called spawn. I had another one shortly after this trip, and then hunkered down for seven years in toddler-dom. Who wants to fly with toddlers? I didn’t.
So, to start, I got to Boston in an hour and fifteen minutes, which would normally take about two hours and then some in traffic, because, well, no one is going to work. I pulled into Central Parking, and it was like a dark, apocalyptic field with a plethora of parking. Next, the real stuff came into play: the Covid Costume, equipped with two masks, ’cause one is just not enough, glasses (kind of like the goggles I wore in Chemistry class), a hat (cause no one wants the ‘vid on the locks), a coat with hood, and rubber gloves. No skin was showing. This is what I looked like.
Once you get into the airport, there are few people roaming about. Let’s just call them the Bold and Not-So-Beautiful. We “bold” ones decided to take the pandemic by storm and risk our lives for loved ones. You can tell which folks are taking this seriously and which are not. Some are dressed in the CC (Covid Costume), while others, who are mostly venturing to or from a Southern region, it appeared) are in shorts, with exposed, tan legs, flip flops, and a mask dangling from one ear. My favorite are the ones in the masks who don’t cover their noses. Like, why bother? You may as well just sneeze on me.
I breeze through security, with about four people six feet in front of me. There are little markers delineating where to stand, kind of like in the game of Twister.
This all was impressive. Next, I cruise towards the gate, with only two venues open: Hudson News and Dunkin’ Donuts (this is slowly changing, but don’t count on a quick beer or Fireball shot before you get on the plane–no restaurants/bars are open). Then, the real challenge sets in, having to venture into the bathroom. Now, this might be easy when not dressed as an Eskimo, but imagine having to zip back up your pants with rubber gloves on. Not only did the top of the glove on my index finger get stuck in the zipper and tear off, but my glasses were fogging up with the mask, I was sweating to high hell, and my bags were crammed against my knees in a tiny stall filled with pandemic possibility. I might suggest a diaper for the next run.
Anyway, so I get to the gate, and there are reserved seats that have ribbon-like banners across them, telling folks to social distance. It’s sort of like a Covid Miss America banner. With one torn glove, I get my sanitizing wipes out of my backpack and wipe down the entire chair and arm rests. People are staring, but also kind of jelly that I thought to do this. Finally, I sit, still sweating with fogged glasses, and I can relax, but it’s hard to text on my cell phone with gloves. So I risk it and take them off.
The rest is fairly simple. We board the plane, everyone in masks, walking down the tarmac, semi-spaced (there, too, are Twister dots), and we sit in our seats (post-wipe-down on my part) with masks required. The plane is about half-full, because no one is sitting next to you. They are, however, not six feet in front of you. I will say, most everyone complied with the masks. The only issue I saw, when swiveling my head around to make sure everyone obeyed the rules, was a few folks with the nose exposed and one or two with the mask dangling off the ear like an ear-cuff.
Am I wearing this right?
The stewardess corrected them, though. I was a bit dismayed that there were no drinks or peanuts served on flight, but we did get a Ziploc bag with a bottle of water and some kind of snack bar. So if you’re thinking of flying, it’s really not that bad. As a recovered germaphobe, I was fine! Thank you to #JetBlue! Enjoy your trip…