the girls, traveling

These days surprised me over and over.
My stomach turned at the thought of sitting in the airport with Joey and the girls, waiting for inevitably delayed flights, paying 3 bucks for water, packed terminals, food lines, tired and “when will we be there?” wishing I was one of those parents with a portable dvd player for my kids to watch something, anything, and by the time we are in Denver, we are done! ready to go home and done with laying toilet paper on the toilet seat and and (again inevitably) at least one child getting sick, most likely throwing up.

You might think me pessimistic, but I’ve done this before, and it’s all come to pass.

But these days surprised me over and over. The girls with their backpacks and rolly bags, independent and looking forward to the next moving walkway so that they could break the rules and go backwards too, going back and forth until they were dizzy. Drawing and playing and watching- the girls were travelers in the very best sense. They were open and ready and adjustable in ways that made me marvel.

It was not just the girls that surprised me. It was the kind world around them. The smiles and comments from everyone. And on Tuesday, when we were surrounded by college students on their way home in their leggings and boots and big sweaters, the kindness was overwhelming. The girls, insisting on sitting together on the plane, sat next to a 15-year old boy coming home from boarding school, and he beamed at them as if they were his long lost little sisters. They talked deep into the dark airborne night, and when he, exhausted, couldn’t stay awake any longer, he set them up on his laptop with a movie (only after politely asking across the aisle for parental approval from us).

After this momentous success, the girls said that they would always sit together with us in the row opposite. And so, on Saturday (after family and Denver and a turkey nearly on fire of course, but that is all another story), when all of the college students had been replaced by families, the kindness again all around us, Sadie and Rose took their seats next to Jessica, a woman in her twenties with shiny blond hair and heeled boots. The girls started to take out their books and coloring supplies but Jessica asked them about who they were, and because they are their home and their cats and their school and their family, she got all of the details. They talked all the way to Chicago, and then, learning that they would be on the plane together to Hartford as well, Jessica promised (with a pinky swear, Sadie told me), that she would save seats for them on the next plane.

As we pulled into Hartford, Sadie and Rosie were drawing our house for Jessica on a napkin. They wished Jessica and her terrier (waiting, with husband, at home) well, and Sadie gave her her prized polished rock at the baggage claim.

I can always create optimism in my little world. Traveler that I am, it is my home that feels brightest, and as much as venturing out can expand and enlighten me, I am just as prone to see the worst in things when the world (and so mundane a world as that within the Chicago Midway airport, for example) is pushing its way around me. But these masses- sitting on the floor of the airport, running through the terminals, getting up to share a table for a family who might be waiting, they shook me with their smiles and their kindness and their happiness. Couples holding hands, parents speaking so lovingly to their children, friends laughing as they found their gate. There was calm, and it shook me. They shook me with the ease in which they loved and supported my girls.

Perhaps I was watching with optimistic eyes? But I think something was different. Everyone just seemed… happy. Okay. Open. And for all the messes that we seem to be in right now in this country, I could not help but think that good things are happening, quietly.


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