Tuesday, October 14, 2014
John and I make the trip north to Erin and T.J.’s as often as time and work permit. Thankfully I had a four-day weekend this past week and we decided to take advantage of it. The plan was to fly up on Thursday when I got out of school, spend Thursday through Sunday night, and fly back on Monday. John had to go on to Indianapolis for a work thing, so I was to fly home alone. As a famous poet once said, “the best laid plans…” Yeah. Right.
Thursday worked out great! I had very few students due to nine weeks testing so I was actually able (with a little help from a dear friend) to leave a little after lunch time. I was able to get the pre-trip jobs done (water the dog, feed the cat, gather garbage to be taken out, etc.) before John got home so actually getting out of the house was easier than it often is. We had planned to fly out of Montgomery for whatever reason. Our usual jumping off point is Pensacola or Fort Walton. Should have known better than to mess with a plan that works. Anyway…flight coming in to Montgomery from Atlanta was delayed due to mechanical difficulties. John had planned for a FULL HOUR layover in Atlanta. Plenty of time, huh? WRONG!! Never, ever, and I mean never give yourself just one hour between flights. I don’t care how good you are at jumping turnstiles and running through airports. Planes never run on time and there is always the possibility of a glitch here or there. Sure enough, this trip was doomed for lots of little glitches. We missed our connection in Atlanta. Sat around the airport for three hours hoping to get a seat on the next flight. Ended up third and fourth on the standby list but the flight was full. Stood in line another hour at the Delta help desk trying to get a hotel voucher and reschedule our flight on to Milwaukee for the next day. Finally ended up in a hotel room very, very late. Got up the next morning to get the first flight out. Result? Missed visiting with Erin and having dinner the night before. Stupid Delta.
The visit went great despite our travel woes. T. J.’s sister Tara, an incredibly talented young woman, agreed to come down from Chicago where she is in school to take some family photos for us in exchange for us allowing her to us them in her portfolio for school. She is already creating quite a name for herself with her photographs. Naturally talented with an incredible sense of style. John and I had found the clothes Erin suggested we wear so we would “fit in” with the fall colors we were looking forward to. Pictures went great – love them, Tara! Time together was great. Weekend was much too short. Woke up Monday morning to weather in Clinton with worse weather moving in from the Gulf Coast all the way to Chicago. Wasn’t looking good for the trip home. Sure enough, my flight out of Milwaukee was delayed: first for thirty minutes, then for an hour, down to five minutes by the time we got to the airport, then back up to an hour before I actually took off. The pilot told us we would be taking a “circuitous” route to Atlanta and approaching from the eastern side via the Carolinas. Took an extra thirty minutes on top of estimated flight time. Maybe John should have flown out with me. The pilot said we were headed toward Indianapolis first and then would circle around to come around to approach Atlanta. Seemed a long way out of the way to me. That delay meant I missed my connection in Atlanta to Montgomery. Deja vu anyone? Yep. Got a message through my Delta app on my phone about the flight delay so I went ahead and made hotel reservations and rescheduled my flight for Tuesday morning. Meant I had to get a substitute and navigate the whole mess for an extra day. Found myself in line for security at Hartsfield-Jackson this morning at 4 a.m. central time. Took me around an hour and a half to get through security. The place was a mad house with people trying to make up flights and get to their destinations. Finally made it out on a 9 a.m. flight. Now that is a flight I will always remember. I actually heard women screaming as the plane rolled, dropped, bounced…basically took us for a ride I’m not sure I ever want to repeat outside an amusement park. The flight attendant kept reassuring us, from the safety of her seat where she was securely strapped in, that it was just “rough air” and that everything would be fine. It really was just really bad turbulence, but those sudden drops are heart stopping! The flight from wheels up to touch down was just a little over thirty minutes. Don’t think I’ve ever been quite so happy to see Montgomery in my life.
While the beginning and ending travel associated with our trip was memorable, the time in between was wonderful. Our time with Erin and T.J. always seems to be pretty relaxed. I hope that they don’t feel that they have to plan entertainment for us. We always seem to get along pretty well just sitting around reading, watching TV, or playing with their puppy who, by the way, is obsessed with John. Erin says she grieves for him when we leave.
I spent a lot of time this weekend just watching them. It is comforting to see just how easy they are with each other. They have celebrated their first anniversary and are almost half way through their second year of marriage. While the honeymoon may be over, their marriage is off to a running, happy start. They have and are facing those little adjustments we all make at the beginning of relationships. They are learning how to pick their battles and what really matters and what doesn’t. Of course, what those things are differ from relationship to relationship. Erin recently completed her college degree and is now adjusting to having a bit more free time on her hands. She has upped her volunteer time with her church, plays volleyball with a local league, works out at the gym with T.J., and is perfecting her skills as a domestic goddess. We are proud of her. She easily could have quit taking classes and let her college education go, but she didn’t. She stuck with it. The only semester she took off was the one during which she got married. We all knew that if she registered for classes that semester, the only result would be wasted money. She still graduated on time. She balanced a new marriage with completing her degree very successfully.
I think John and I both are conscious of being good in-laws. We don’t ever want to be a point of contention between the two of them. We like him. He loves her and is good to her. He has supported her decision to complete her degree and has provided a life for her that allows her to choose her activities based on what she loves and wants to do rather than on what she feels she has to do. She has taught herself to be an incredible cook and ventures into being a hostess for their friends and, occasionally, T.J.’s employees. She is making a home they both can be proud of. I have often worried in the past year or so that she would be bored once she graduated unless she had a plan for some kind of work. At one time she talked about opening a business. I don’t know if that’s still in the plans, but I’m sure that if it is, she will pursue success in that venture with the same dedication she has applied to building her home and marriage. We like going there. We can relax and just visit with the two of them. We don’t worry about whether or not they are able to pay their bills, if they are happy, if they are treating each other well, whether or not his family likes her or is treating her well. I believe that john and I are privileged to be able to do that. I’m sure there aren’t very many parents whose only worry when they visit their children is whether or not they will have to worry about flight delays or weather.
All in all this weekend was very successful. I always get a bit sad when she drops us off at the airport in Milwaukee. I’m sure she has noticed that on the trip from Clinton on the day we leave that I am very quiet. I hardly have anything to say. It’s simply because I am trying very, very hard not to let myself be sad knowing that it may be months before I’ll be able to see her again. Luckily I know she’ll be home for Thanksgiving if only for a couple of days. After that, I’m not sure when I’ll see her again. I’m sure that both she and we will be looking for that next opportunity to fit in a few days whenever we can. If we can, I know we’ll take advantage of it regardless of possible travel worries. This time the airline cost me a night and part of a day visiting with them. Maybe next time, we’ll get lucky.
Who knows? Stupid Delta.