My mom dropped us off at the Oakland airport at 5 in the morning – uh huh, 5 AM! The kids had to get up at 4:30!! I thought they were rockstars of travel awesomeness. They just yawned, then got excited.
I was nervous about the actual airport/flight/transfer thing, and about how I was going to keep 3 kids – especially the little two – from bouncing off the airplane.
The plan was to visit my friend Meredith and her family first. They are in New Jersey.
Mack really bonded with that flight card thing.
The kids joined hands and were singing ‘ring a round a rosie’ while the flight was delayed and while I think it’s a morbid song and dance if ever there was one, there wasn’t an airport playground. I shrugged. It was okay.
That was when this lady (who had been making frown-y faces at us for a while) asked – with this long suffering look of withering pain – if I could pleeeeeease keep the kids quiet and seated?
I looked at the kids, holding hands and singing and laughing together and looked back at the lady and said, “absolutely not.” I said, “you can wear your headphones or get ear plugs if you don’t like their voices, and you can look away if you don’t like their dancing, but they have nothing else and they need to get some energy out.”
She turned to the guy next to her with the “can you BELIEVE this?!” look and I wanted to rewind my memories of the kids directly into her mind – how they were up at 4:30, carrying bags, waiting in line, trudging through checks, sitting (pretty) quietly on the plane, listening, listening, listening for hours, hours, hours and how little they were and how hard they were clearly trying and NOW THIS. So, all I can say is: I am glad I said no to her, and I’m glad others smiled and nodded at me after I said no. What I’m not glad about is how miserable someone can be, and how THAT stays in my head long after other countless memories of kind actions on the part of strangers have faded.
Why do the actions/utterances of miserable people have so much greater staying power?
We arrived in La Guardia and Joe, my friend Meredith’s husband, was there to meet us.
What a nice guy. I mean, Nice. Capital “N”, only I hate saying that because that seems to be a kind way to say, “Loser”, or “Guy with Little Personality and Few Looks” – but Joe is none of that. He’s good looking, smart, works hard, is successful, great dad and great husband – and can
find make the time (- because he’s busy, it’s not like he was just lying around and found it; he made it) to drive over an hour each way to pick up his wife’s friend and her 3 little kids from the airport. He is Nice. (And here, think of ASL “Nice” because it feels more fitting.)
Photos from the ride to their place:
And then Meredith! And meeting the kids!
Meredith, I have been close to for 18 years or so now. We were roommates in grad school, like actual roommates, sharing a dorm room. We both went to Japan after school, and spent time together as I was busy shredding up myself.
It was hard to be my friend then. I wasn’t easy or healthy to be around, and a lot of friendships dived – mine with Meredith did too for a while. It took time to build it back to a place of goodness.
And now – it feels good. It feels even better as I savored watching her kids play with mine.
Her sons are the sweetest big-boys I have ever met. Ever. In fact, I had no idea that boys could even be that sweet. The way that they took care of Moxie and Mack? Wow.
And Josie, too.
It feels like if Oakland were a state as well as a city, it would be New Jersey. Crazy-rich and green and rolling in some areas and gritty, urban in others. Full of exotic-ness – for me, it as seeing the Jews. We don’t have many conservative Jews in California, and certainly none where I am. It was also interesting seeing all the Muslim women in varying types of head and body cover. I feel like there are way more Middle Eastern Muslims in New Jersey than there are in California. But not as many Latinos, and not as much of a Latino presence.
Two nights, three days, wonderful.