Let me start by saying - I love flying. I love it. The people you meet boost the excitement (plus there are those you don't actually meet but just SEE...one of whom was a crazy punk with an orange Mohawk, tattoos on his head and everywhere, and ears gaged out to the size of a pop can top...Oliver couldn't stop staring. The guy was really nice, though. He told me Oliver was 'adorable.' Imagine a spectacle like that using such a kind word. When will I learn not to judge a book by its cover?).
But the true exhilaration is takeoff. There is no feeling like jetting down that runway as fast as it takes to get something as monstrous as an airplane + passengers off the ground. IN THE AIR.
I will admit that traveling with a one year old makes things slightly less jovial. Okay, by the time we actually found our gate, which was roughly three miles of walking with a back pack, satchel, and baby on the hip to the very end of everywhere, I wanted to call Andrew and demand he accompany me from here on out. I was sweating before I even had to try to contain a toddler on a cramped plane next to an old bachelor who didn't seem to know what a kid was and certainly had no idea what to do with him. Then we boarded. We found our seat by the window along with our traveling companion for the next 2 hours - the man I just described. Now, don't think it was as hellish as you first suspect, for worse things could have happened than did on that ride over country and through clouds. The flight was over before any of us (Oliver, our unknown seatmate, or I) started crying.
Fortunately, navigating the Dayton airport was much simpler than Minneapolis. We found our luggage and -- OUR FAMILY -- with hardly a blink. What a joyous reunion! It had only been a little over a month since Olives and I had been to see the Gaalswyks, but when I saw Anna and Luke I realized just how much I had missed them (mostly Anna...kidding!) and my heart sang.
I won't go into detail about everything we did or saw or talked about because it would take a year to retell every splendid moment. I will say that we made up for all the giggles, talks, and shopping adventures we would have otherwise missed since the last time we were together. Some highlights were reading aloud Leif Enger's new book "So Brave, Young, and Handsome"(MUST READ!), garage saling, getting lost to and from the outlet mall we went to while Luke watched Oliver (for 4 whole hours! thanks Luke!), hearing their pastor at Apex speak, visiting with the Turkish and Korean women where Anna goes weekly for 'conversation time,' arranging and rearranging furniture/accessories, coffee talk, and oh so much more.
After a tearful goodbye Oliver and I made our way through security to our gate, where, while waiting, we met some other rambunctious little boys who watched airplanes and ran around with us.
On our return flight we had the privilege of sitting next to the sweetest family from Montana. The dad, Mark, who's a real life cowboy, gave Oliver high fives for a good portion of the trip, while the 13 yr old daughter, Courtney, played peek-a-boo with Oliver. I didn't get the wife/mom's name because she was next to us just telling about the other two the whole time. She also held Oliver for most of the flight, making his interaction with the rest of her family easier. She almost got the little goose to sleep. It's a strange thing being that geographically close to someone for 2 hrs of uninterrupted time, and yet know you'll never see them again. Hm.
When we got back to MN I was so very travel weary. Thankfully the moving sidewalks took a little strain off the 3 mile hike we tramped to our baggage claim.
And there was Anj, just waiting by the carousel, smiling expectantly. Another joyous reunion.