Harrowing and harvesting
I just got back from a trip to see my family in New Mexico. It was by far the most harrowing travel experience of my life. I am going to vent about it in great detail. Feel free to skip to the end.
We were supposed to leave on Wednesday, but just as were driving to the airport, we learned the first leg of our flight had been canceled. Better while we were driving there than after we’d arrived at the airport, I suppose, but getting everything all packed and everyone in the car is such a drag that I was more focused on how nice it would have been to find out 20 minutes earlier, rather than feeling grateful that the inconvenience was not more inconvenient. We had the choice of flying out the following morning, or leaving later in the day, having a 5 hour layover in Dallas, TX and arriving in New Mexico at midnight. We chose the following morning, so I got to spend a day with deeply disappointed, weeping toddlers. We want to go to New Mexico! We are SAD! I explained that I felt exactly the same, but because I was a grown up, instead of crying I was just going to be grouchy.
In the middle of the night Bun Bun woke up. My tongue hurts, she whimpered. I cajoled her back to sleep and drifted off to visions of high fever and vomiting and strange tropical diseases. We got up nice and early for our flight, and Bun Bun seemed sick in a normal I have a cold way, not a yellow fever way. Our flight actually left! We were pleased to have made some progress. Dallas at last. We’d packed breakfast and eaten on the plane, but wanted to grab something lunchy before the next flight. We had a very difficult time finding anything to eat, which always happens to us when we’re super hungry and therefore unable to think properly. It’s so predictable that we really need to just pack sandwiches, but that idea is so unappealing at packing time. It ended with us standing in a desolate corner of the airport where the only option was a Texas style BBQ place. I am vegetarian. The babies didn’t want pulled pork either. We were just regaining our composure when we learned that our flight to NM had been canceled. We hurried to the gate of the next flight, but given that there was a planeload of people scrambling to get on it, it was hopeless. We booked seats on the 10 PM flight (arrival at midnight) and contemplated our 9 hour layover in Dallas.
Recall that we had declined the option of having a 5 hour layover, midnight arrival the previous day.
I booked a room in an airport hotel so the babies could nap and run around the room. I was able to read. The time passed slowly. We watched via flight tracker as the other flights to NM got delayed by hours and hours and canceled, too. Then there was a humorous part where we fed the babies room service dinner, bathed them, put them to bed…woke them up to go back to the airport. Our final leg was not canceled! We were very grateful to roll into our hotel room at 1am. The babies passed out and so did we. The following day was uneventful until we returned to our hotel, exhausted and looking forward to an early night. There we found a wedding reception in full swing, complete with extremely loud, quite bad music. I was assured that the noise would end at 10, so I tried to remember that this was some couple’s happy day and not be a dick about it, but I was pretty pissed. I think they could at least have warned us. Plus which, since I am hip to the ways of weddings held at hotels, I knew that there would be shitfaced wedding guests staying the night, and this group is notoriously not quiet or courteous. Sure enough, around 2 am, a drunken, screaming, shouting, breaking things brawl broke out somewhere nearby, of such violence that I lay there thinking whether to call the front desk or the police. It was over within half an hour, and the babies miraculously slept through it. Except that at 4am, Bunlet awoke. I sick, he reported. So I got to spend the next couple of hours being kicked as he tossed and turned and fussed. At 6 I crawled out of bed to find us some coffee and gazed out the window. Below me in the pool area, I was treated to the sight of a woman putting her underwear on as a hotel employee evicted her and her naked partner. They had clearly decided to spend the night on the chaise longue wrapped in some towels, and appeared to still be drunk. Mr. Bunny passed them later as he was taking the babies for a walk, and reported that they were having a “getting to know you” conversation.
I got the sore throat and cold that day, too. BUT, aside from the fact that 3/4 of us were snot fountains and pretty miserable, it was a pleasant trip from that point on.
The babies were so good and noble about the whole thing, which in toddler terms translates to having hardly any tantrums and showing remarkable cheerfulness. They had a lovely time seeing their cousins and uncle and aunt and grandmother. The flights home all went like clockwork. I used to expect that, you know? And, the baby that sat with me turned out to be the cheerful one on both flights, while Mr. Bunny got the grouchy one. Or PERHAPS he was the grouchy one and it rubbed off on his baby? Bun Bun entertained herself by drawing pictures in a little blank book and then “reading” it to herself for an hour, while I read a real book. It was pretty awesome.
I know lots of people love traveling, but I just don’t get it. Why would you ever want to not be home? I travel to see people I would not see otherwise, and because I must for my job. And as time has passed, I’ve (more or less) come to terms with the fact that I will let go of N% of my (potential) professional success in order to travel as little as possible. Travel begets travel for academics, you see. I’ll take obscurity if it means I can be home. At home, my garden is growing.
We’ve had some good garden meals already with our young greens, including this great way to use up arugula and spinach thinnings and early plants.
Cook some pasta. When it’s about a minute from done, throw in some peas. Despite the fact that peas and arugula are classic spring crops, they are not actually available at the same time because it gets hot so fast here, so I used frozen. Meanwhile, toast some pine nuts. Heat some cream and add a bit of veggie broth. Reduce a bit, then toss in a good bit of grated parmesan. When the thickness you like, add a great deal of arugula and or spinach. It will become tiny the way those plants do. Drain your pasta, throw the two together, add the pine nuts, salt and pepper it, and serve right away.