Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And They Say Toddlers Are Hard

Yes, I've been AWOL again. I have a good reason.

It all started last Thursday as we planned to fly from Idaho back to our California home. All clothes were packed up (mine representing a month away from California). The house was quiet--just me, Mark and Amberly--after all guests had gone home. I was throwing out some food from the wedding reception--and the kitchen sink backed up. Mark and I did all we could--put a big pot underneath the sink and opened up the plumbing to drain and clean the pipes. No back-up there. We did manage to make a fine mess of chickeney/beefy water under the sink and across the floor. Made for a fun clean-up.

The backup was further down the line somewhere, outside the house. Great. Time to call the plumber. By that time it was 1 p.m., and we'd planned on leaving the house within the hour. Not to be. By the time the plumber arrived and snaked out the problem (waaay down the line) it was going on 5:00. We nixed the plans for flying out that day and decided to get up early Friday morning to fly out. Which we did. We got wheels up around 9:30.

That put us in California early Friday afternoon. After a month away I had to go through the held mail (delivered just that day), try to unpack and repack for a weekend away. Right. I hit the office and did what I could there. As for unpacking--forget it. Problem was, I was still tired from all the wedding hoopla.

Saturday morning early we got up to fly Amberly to southern California to open up her apartment for college. My bag from Idaho remained unpacked in the bedroom. We arrived at Long Beach and left the plane in the good hands of an FBO at the airport (FBOs serve private pilots and their airplanes). We hopped in a looong rented van, took out the back seat and drove to the apartment to get the keys, etc. Then it was off to Ikea to buy a bedroom of furniture. We loaded I don't know how many heavy boxes of stuff. All the furniture would have to be put together the following day. By the time all the shopping and loading was done, it was after 7 p.m., and we were exhausted.

We hit an Applebees for dinner, sweaty and tired. Mark checked his Blackberry for phone messages. He had a message from the FBO. I watched as he listened to the message, a sick look creeping over his face. He clicked off and looked at me, shoulders slumped.

"Somebody hit my plane."


Mark called the manager of the FBO back to hear the details. One of those towing machines that push planes back clipped the end of a wing and crushed it in. The plane wasn't flyable. We had a full day of work ahead of us on Sunday, followed by plans to fly back to northern California at the end of the day. Mark and I both had full work days on Monday. Now we had no plane to get home.

Sunday was crazy. Putting all the furniture together, then running out and buying--everything. Think of all the stuff that's needed to start an apartment. Kitchen stuff. Bathroom items. Meanwhile the FBO put us on a commercial flight at 7:30 p.m. We barely made finishing the apartment and got back to the FBO in time to get to LAX.

Where, of course, our flight turned out to be late. Seven-thirty became 8:15. Then 8:30. 8:45. We were so tired. About that time the plane actually showed up at the gate. We took forever to board, then sat around waiting to take off. We were in the very back of the packed plane. Mark ended up in a center seat across from me. I was on an aisle. I offered to trade with him but he wouldn't do it. There was no place for my carry-on bag. I'd have to backtrack against the flow of traffic and look for a bin up front. Just the thought of that made me want to crawl into a cave. Mark took the bag from me and stuck it under his seat. Now he was not only in a center seat, he had no room for his feet.

"Mark, no way. Trade with me."

"No." He smiled. "I'm fine."

There is no other man alive like him.

Just before the doors closed a woman came stomping down the aisle, furious at the airline company and the world in general. She was lugging a large suitcase--I didn't even know how she'd gotten on board with the thing. She was loudly complaining there was nowhere to put it, so she'd just sit with it on her lap, and heaven help anyone who told her no. Mouthy Blonde threw it in the empty aisle seat right across from me--and next to Mark--nearly hitting him with it. The stewardess told her she couldn't hold it on the flight, which prompted more argument and attitude.

Great. The three of us were exhausted. Now we'd never get off the ground. MB would end up getting kicked off, I was sure of it, and the flight would just be delayed all the more.

Somehow the stewardess found room for the bag. Meanwhile MB and her mother, who had a voice like one of Marge's sisters on the Simpsons, ragged about how they wanted the stewardess's name because they were going to write the company and say how terrible she was to them. Everyone around me just wanted to shrink from those two. I turned around and looked over my seat at Amberly, on the very back row. She shook her head and narrowed her eyes. Good thing she wasn't sitting where Mark was. MB wouldn't have had such a patient seatmate.

Then San Francisco airport was reporting fog. We couldn't take off because we couldn't land there. So we waited some more. MB twitched in her seat. And moved. And twitched some more. I swear the woman was ADD on speed. Poor Mark.

Finally the wheels left the ground. MB popped around in her seat. I shut my eyes, trying to close out the world.

We arrived at San Francisco only to stand in the line outside for a taxi. I knew I was in trouble when the one that pulled up when we got to the front of the line had a driver holding a cigarette. Smoke really bothers me, and in a closed car--forget it. We piled in the backseat and buckled in. Good thing. Guy took off like a coyote on uppers. Leadfoot darted in and out of traffic and hit the onramp to the freeway at double the speed limit. The G-force half-circle onto the ramp threw me into Mark's lap. I pressed a hand over my mouth and tried not to squeak.

"You okay?" Mark asked once Leadfoot merged onto the freeway at 100 miles an hour.

"I'm fine. Just didn't know we were getting into a rocket." Buildings streaked by. That is, I saw them the few times I had the courage to open my eyes.

Our car was where we left it at the private airport. Leadfoot took the off ramp at our exit just like he'd taken the on ramp. This one put me into Amberly's lap. By this time the whole night seemed so bizarre, Amberly and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Leadfoot screeched up to a side gate at the airport and let us out. Our code to open the gate and get into the airplane parking area wouldn't work. We forgot--that gate closed some hours previously.

We lugged our bags to the main gate and punched in the code. It opened and in we went. Where we were met by security wanting to see an ID. Little wonder. We looked like refugees slogging into the lot.

We got home about 11:30 and fell into bed. I thought of all you BGs, I really did. But no way was I hitting the office to post for the following morning. I'd had it.

Yes, toddlers are a lot of work. But after this summer, and a wedding for our son followed by an apartment for our daughter just one week later, I'm convinced grown children take far more energy.

At some point Mark will have to fly back to Long Beach to pick up the plane after it's fixed. As for me, I'm just trying to get my head on straight and somehow start the rewrite of Exposure, due next week, and the proofs for Always Watching. And no, I still haven't unpacked from the month in Idaho.

I'll think about that tomorrow.


Gracie said...

Yikes! And I thought my weekends could get messy. At least you and Amberly could laugh at some points of the trip. And thank God that you guys finished everything on your schedule. As for the rest... I'll be praying. ; ) Blessings!

Karen Eve said...

Sounds like you could have skipped the 3 hours waiting for a 1 hour flight and called the taxi driver. San Francisco cabbies are a unique breed, rivaling their Asian counterparts for thrills. I remember taking taxis in Singapore and having the drivers racing up the freeway, sharing the same lane. I learned to pray with a whole new intensity. Unfortunately, my co-worker wasn't a believer so he just turned green. :)
Welcome to the world of grown kids Brandilyn. I always thought I would have all this extra time when my kids grew up and left home - WRONG. I'm busier than ever. And it would appear that you'll still need to make a trip to take your daughter back to start school. It never ends.
Blessings (and a bunch of strength),

Kristi Golden said...

Wowsers! Somehow I see this taxi driver in an upcoming thriller -- maybe he'll be a victim? Same for MB!

I just finished reading the NES with an end....thank you so much for candidly sharing your journey. It's meant so very much to me.

Ed J. Horton said...

Brandilyn, I really needed to read your blog today and laugh (sorry, at your expense). Thanks for sharing your life and your writing!

Anonymous said...

Brandilyn, m'dear. I would really like to feel sorry for you, but you make it all sound so funny I can't seem to muster up that particular emotion.

I say kill off MB in your next book. It will make you feel a little better.


sunnij said...

Along Robinlee's thinking, I'd like your saga much better if you (or your sweet, longsuffering DH) had told MB that you kill for a living. And contrary to Ms. Robinlee, I do feel sorry for you. And I hope you get a nap sooooon. ~Sunni

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Fortunately Amberly is driving her car down this weekend. Mark and I are official DONE moving her in.

Robin, Robin. And they say you're so sweet. Now YOU are talking about my killing off someone? That's quite the talk for such a high-ranking BHCC member.

Lynn Squire said...

Brandilyn, you have me smiling. I can relate to your story, having made two trips to Canada (with multiple connections in multiple strange airports) this summer, all within three weeks, with three young children in tow. A woman on the last flight walked down the aisle swearing and going on about something. Then she saw my three cherub faces looking up at her. "Oh, sorry about the language." She silenced her tongue and took her seat.

Hope you regain your sleep and strength, and get back into your regular routine. My prayers are with you.