Here's the thing about living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
If you want to go anywhere besides another island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you gotta get on a plane for a real long time.
A Real. Long. Time.
And you know, I guess when you don't have little kids, you can just pop in some ear phones, pull up your hood, and take a nap. Or drink until you pass out. Or watch movies. Or work.
I spend the entire 5+ hours making trips to the bathroom for not only myself but each of the children, rooting around for snacks in our carryons, taking sweaters off and putting sweaters on, threatening the kids to keep their socks on, begging for more than a small cup of water every 2 hours, figuring out how to use the onboard entertainment system and then finding the right adapter to make our earphones work in the airplane plug (is it a one prong, or a two prong?) so I don't have to buy earphones again.
I can't drink alcohol, because I have to get these kids off the plane, and then find another plane, and then get on that plane. And so I sit and pop ibuprofen and try to keep everyone distracted - including myself. My claustrophobia kicks in around hour 3 - usually during a beverage service when I realize that not only can I not walk to the back of the plane to pee if I need to, but I am in a tiny, confined space miles up in the air over the ocean.
And that is when I stop taking ibuprofen and start taking Xanax.
I love Xanax.
When we finally get off the plane, the first thing we do is figure out where we need to be to catch our next flight. We don't pee, or eat, or buy magazines.
We find our fucking gate. Sometimes, this is easier than other times.
So we get off the plane in scenic Oakland, and we find our gate (it was one of the easy times - HALLELUJAH) and we check the time. We have about 20 minutes until boarding begins for our next flight, and the only thing I can see for food is a counter serving chinese food.
CHINESE FOOD IT IS.
I set down the bags, tell the kids to sit and stay, and walk over to check out the options. It's not like I had any options - we were eating whatever it was they were serving - but I was hoping there would be something recognizable. And maybe even some vegetables.
There were egg rolls, and some orange chicken of questionable age. Sort of congealed looking. Yum.
I just didn't think I could handle a flight with nothing but orange chicken in my stomach. So I leaned in and smiled. Real Big. "Hey there, is there any chance that you're going to be bringing out some beef and broccoli?"
Jackpot. No one ever smiles at airport employees. Especially not the skinny, skittish teenager at the chinese food counter. I stepped to the side, waited for just a few minutes, and before you could say oyster sauce I was holding a box of freshly made beef and broccoli.
And that beef and broccoli was a masterpiece.
I felt like I had won the lottery. I swaggered back to the gate leaving everyone else in line to fight over the orange chicken, and gathered the children around me on the floor.
It was like a vision of the Madonna and child(ren), hunched over the foam takeout container sucking lo mein and fighting over the fortune cookies. I got a cramp from sitting all bent over, and Max filled up on noodles while the food was cooling down. But it was food. It was fresh. And it was good. As soon as they started boarding, we had to wrap it up quickly. I unfolded myself, straightened my legs gingerly, and started gathering napkins and chopsticks wrappers. Lucy stood, and stretched, and glanced out the window.
Her jaw dropped.
"Mama?" her voice was incredulous. "What honey?" I was distracted.
"MAMA?" she said again - louder this time.
"What sweetheart?" I looked up. She was pressed to the window, wide eyed. Max stood behind her, and was frantically waving me over.
I tossed the leftover noodles in the trash, and walked over to join them. And there, in the window, was a remarkable sight.
The Tinkerbell plane.
We were flying on the Tinkerbell Plane. The kids skipped onto that damn jetway. I couldn't figure out why they were so excited, until I realized......they thought we were going to Disneyland. On the Tinkerbell plane. The one that said "Disneyland" on the side.
I broke it to them gently. Not only were we not going to Disneyland, this wasn't going to be the last airplane of the night. Neither piece of news went over very well.
And then Lucy struck the final blow.
"Mom? I'm hungry again."
Fucking chinese food.
8 minutes ago