A Family Affair

Everyone’s been saying I should take a friend, take a friend, there’s so much to do, you’ll need help at the airport. But try as I might, I can’t come up with anyone who can do what I will really need them to do. Granted I’ll have a lot of stuff to wrangle and a very detailed checklist the day of my move (let’s not forget I’m moving to a faraway island with three pets in tow). But if it came down to it, I could figure out how to carry everything or wheel it on a cart.

What I will need more than anything on that day is proper emotional support. I’m going to need someone who understands that putting my pets in the baggage compartment of a jet airliner set for a 3,000 mile course over the Pacific ocean is the scariest most stressful thing I will have ever done.

For the most part, of course, I trust and adore my friends. I would trust them with the care of my pets. I would trust them to get me to the airport on time. The deeper issue is I need someone who gets how I’m going to feel when I drop my dogs off at the cargo hold: helpless and scared which, for me, manifest as short-tempered anger and rushing.

I thought and I thought and I came up with the answer. There is exactly one person qualified for the job, the woman who taught me how to feel and act when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of my family.

So I called my mom to ask her to come to Hawaii with me in August to help me move. She did a spit take, complete with a full choke on the sip of water she had just taken and an incredulous “Whaaa?!” Up until Friday I thought that kind of thing only happened in the movies.

After her spit take she cleared her throat and said, “I’d love to. Let me talk to your father,” which basically meant “Give me a day or two to let him down easy before you buy the tickets.” Then we proceeded with the details and the trust and the what not.

The next day news came in that my dad will join her for the Portland leg of the expedition. They just happen to have two credits for round trip tickets on JetBlue and he wants to be there to send me off.

The morning after that my sister, up from Ashland for the weekend, and I had breakfast at Marco’s on Multnomah. As it turns out, she will miraculously be back in town at the precise moment of my move as well. First to attend Portland’s annual Pickathon, then she’ll extend her visit until she sees me off at the airport as well.

And do you know why these things have lined themselves up? Because there are no accidents.

It’s gonna be a blast of a day, I’ll tell you that much. I’ll insist we leave for the airport at 5:00am since the dogs need to be there by 7:15am. It’ll take us twenty minutes. My dad and my sister will want coffee. I’ll glare at them as they trudge off to find the Starbucks. My mother will plan ahead and her own needs will disappear, evaporated into the mist as if she never actually had any. Is she thirsty? No. Does she need to use the bathroom? Nope. Did she bring snacks? Of course.

Then we’ll have three hours to kill.

I’ll pace and stretch. My mother will sit, calm but attentive. My dad and my sister will joke, enjoy their frappacinos and americanos, maybe discuss politics. I’ll check the departures table twelve or thirteen times and snap at everyone for things they can’t control. My mother will ask if everything is still on schedule. My dad and my sister will go deeper into the unrest in Afghanistan with a back and forth critique of Obama’s accomplishments and failures. My mother will say, “I’m sure Tobi’s howling up a storm down there. Banjo and Roody are hoping he’ll shut up so they can have a nap already.” Then we’ll make a bet about whether we’ll hear him yelping his pathetic tortured yelp over the roar of the airplane engines.

And so on until my mom and I board the plane and my real worries set in. How will I get them out if the plane crashes into the ocean? I have contingency plans in my head for collapsing tunnels and bridges but nothing that would help in the event of a water landing in a jumbo jet. What if they get boarded onto the wrong flight and end up in Fiji? What if I made a mistake on the paperwork and they get held up in quarantine?

My mother will not have the answers but she won’t use that as an excuse to make me feel like my worries are ridiculous. She’ll use logic and jokes like, “Well I’d love to see Fiji” and say things like, “I know it’s scary but I think we’re gonna be OK.”

Did I mention she’s terrified of flying? Scared stupid. She hates it. The thing is, with her, it doesn’t matter. She understands when to file her fears away in order to take care of her daughter. And that basically makes her the best mom ever.

Every member of my family will be present at exactly the moment I need them, being themselves and letting me be me. No matter how much anyone will want me to calm down, I won’t. And they won’t try to make me because they know that doesn’t help.

There’s something I don’t say enough. I love my family. I love them so much it’s absurd. They are the reason I get to pursue my dreams with minimal fear and zero doubt that it’ll all be worth it. They are the reason I’m anxious to expand the clan and have a family of my own.

The day is still three months off, but I already know it’s gonna be the best one ever.

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3 thoughts on “A Family Affair”

  1. i love you, jenny. and you, too, m & d !! how the hell did we end up with such a fantastic family??? we are truly lucky to be their daughters.

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