I’m sure that when pedophiles get their one-way ticket to hell, they go there on a red eye flight.
Red eyes are like the pet rocks of our generation. The infomercial looks so good (“I’ll be home the next morning!”) so we buy them, then when they get delivered to our doorstep we think, “Who ordered this crap?”
Here is how I survive them.
I get to the airport as late in the evening as I can.
I treat myself to a nice dinner. Salmon and a lemon drop and even dessert. Fruit cobbler. I’m going to need my strength.
I board the flight, make the usual snoring jokes with the person next to me, and settle in for the long flight. I try to sleep but don’t. I doze. I toss. I turn. I probably even snore but I don’t get anything that resembles rest. I just pass the time with my eyes closed.
And there is a lot of time to be passed.
Finally my ears start to snap and hurt and that means we are approaching my first stop. Maybe it’s Atlanta, maybe it’s Minneapolis, maybe it’s Detroit. Most of the time I don’t know and don’t care. All I care about is gate 49 or 16 or 13A. I walk through shiny gray hallways with huge windows. I pass Starbucks and curse them, because the last thing I want right now is caffeine. I don’t want to be awake, don’t want to be aware. I don’t want to remember this airport or anything about it. I only want to be as awake as I have to be to get to my gate.
I pass the duty free store and curse it because who can even think about alcohol at a time like this? Damn capitalists.
I pass a large dinosaur skeleton and curse it, although if I were in my right mind I would stand in amazement at how big it is. Its femur is taller than me. Its femur! I curse the dinosaur and I curse most of America for not knowing that “its femur” is written without an apostrophe. Our country’s language abilities are crumbling apostrophe by apostrophe and it drives me nuts. I don’t think there is a bachelor or bachelorette left in this nation who knows why the sentence, “Things are so good between she and I,” is wrong, wrong, wrong.
I’m not sure I want to live in a world like that.
Oh yes, things are getting bad at this airport. Once I start ranting about our nation’s war on proper grammar, even I know things are bad.
I get to my gate and promptly fall back asleep. I put my subconscious in charge. I ask her to wake me up when they call for my flight. She usually waits until the final call, or even that moment when they say, “Paging Passenger Gao, Passenger Melanie Gao.”
She is freaking hilarious, my subconscious.
The last leg is generally an hour or so. I refuse any food or drink from the flight attendants and that is entirely out of self pity at this point.
When I arrive in Nashville it’s the crack of dawn. I stop at Starbucks and I get a large latte. It’s not that I want to be awake now, but I do see the necessity of it. I have a long day ahead of me.
I walk to my car in the long term parking lot and find the bottle of water that I left for myself in the drink cup. That was thoughtful of me.
I drive to my sister’s house, where my kids are just waking up. They stumble out of bed and give me a sleepy hug and tell me about all the bad things that happened while I was gone.
Grant stole my iPad charger. The kids at camp said bad words. Grant lost a tooth. Audrey got a brush stuck in her hair and couldn’t get it out.
And then that song from Diamond Rio starts playing in my head.
“One more day. One more night. One more sunset, baby, I’d be satisfied. That’s what I’d do for one more day with you.”
And suddenly I remember why I bought the pet rocks. I am their rock and I need to be there to hear about the charger and the bad words and the tooth and the brush. I want to be there for all of that and more. All the cursing and tossing and turning and grumbling is all worth it because I get one more day with them.
That’s what I’d do for one more day with you.