Last week I did something new. It wasn’t as delicious as trying a new flavor of ice cream, or as adventurous as flying down a zip line. It wasn’t as bold as a new hair color, or as daring as quitting my job.
Last week I flew alone. Solo. No friends, no kids, no spouse, no colleagues. Just me, my overstuffed suitcase and a carry-on bag full of papers to grade, books to read, and stories to write.
Flying alone meant trying something new. I could get myself out of the house quickly because all I had to worry about was me. It meant that for the first time in a very long time I didn’t forget a thing.
Flying alone meant it didn’t matter where I stood in the boarding line because it was just me. I wasn’t concerned about entertaining anyone, or making sure I was close to the window or the bathroom. It meant I could be the very last person aboard because I had a confirmed seat and I didn’t need overhead luggage space.
Flying alone meant I wasn’t worried about sitting next to a chatterbox or a screaming baby-I had my earphones, my iPod, and a book to bury my face in. I didn’t even have to check who was sitting in front or behind me, just in case they received an accidental kick in the seatback or a quick seat recline in the face.
Flying alone meant I could actually watch the entire movie from beginning to end without interruption. My tray table only had my drink on it, and I didn’t worry about elbows flying over to spill it. It meant could read my book, write an article and listen to music for five glorious hours. I only had to pack the snacks that I liked, and didn’t have to ration them. And if it wasn’t 7:00 a.m. I could have even indulged in a cocktail without guilt.
Flying alone meant that in Dulles airport I didn’t have to take small companions straight to the bathroom, or wait for anyone to catch up with me. It meant that I actually had one hand free to maneuver through the shuttle, and arrived first to the baggage claim area. And when my luggage came off the carousel, I was completely free.
Flying alone meant that the next moves were all mine. I got to choose what I ate, where I went, and how I got there. It meant I could browse the gift shop and the bookstore for as long as I wanted.
Flying alone also meant that I didn’t have a hand to hold on take-off and landing, or anyone to watch my bags while I went to the newsstand. It meant that I had to eat lunch alone, and keep my thoughts to myself.
Flying alone also meant that I didn’t have anyone to ask for advice or opinions. I had to decide which shuttle to use, and how much to tip the driver. It meant that I didn’t have anyone to exclaim to as I spied the Pentagon or crossed the
Potomacfor the first time.
Flying alone meant that I had a lot of time to myself to think. I had to wonder what my family was doing, and if they got to school on time. It meant that I couldn’t see their faces as they raced down the ski course or before they fell asleep.
Flying alone made me realize how much I wished I wasn’t flying alone. It meant that I missed my family.
Next time, I’ll take a kid or two with me.
Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe at jenniferwolfe.net.
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