“What if everywhere you went, you experienced so much more than you expected?” This TV commercial catches my eye as I wonder if the Delta Air Lines ticket agent will offer me a stand-by seat on a very full 6 a.m. flight. I guess I’ll be optimistic. Besides, here’s the worst thing that can happen: I don’t go. I don’t go to Colombia to visit my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and my father, who has found them a home so far away. I'll be honest, there are lots of things about this trip that scare me.
Alas, and oh joy, Delta
has a seat for me. In the row ahead of mine is a family
with four kids. A blond, blue-eyed girl looks at me and I feel like I’m
beginning again. I am one of four children and we used to travel often. It feels like a good sign.
Meanwhile, my seatmates and I are quiet, respectful of each
others’ space, until Atlanta, tree-filled city, is below us. Only then does the woman in the middle comment on how
strange it is that we three are left-handed.
In Atlanta's bustling airport I meet Dan, the oldest of my three brothers. We will be travelling companions to Colombia, but for now we have time to
eat a biscuit at Popeye’s. Then we discover there’s no way we are
getting standby seats to Miami. Dan
is a mechanic for Delta and has been flying free for years. Dave, second
brother, is now a ticket agent, and he recommends we fly to Ft. Lauderdale. We
race to the gate, the last ones to hop on to Miami's neighboring city.
This time I have a window seat and I remember why
so many close the shade. It’s unnerving to be reminded of how much space
is between us and the ground. But
the Florida's terrain is fascinating. Miles of housing
developments stop abruptly at a strangely red desert with
unnaturally straight intersecting waterways. Is this neverending land the
Ft. Lauderdale Dan and I step in line behind a young woman. She is beautiful
and self-assured, joining the adult world without fear. I want my daughters to
be like her. I want them to have this confidence. I catch her eye and smile at
her, her hair in a high blond bun, her face lovely and bright. She is perfect
in a serious black suit and pumps, with a smart rolling suitcase and I'm glad someone like her is in the world.
and I need to get from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami’s airport, but before we go, I find myself next
to the young woman at the restroom sink. I am washing my hands and she is
brushing her teeth. She has changed into a lovely white sundress and I grab the
opportunity to tell her I hope my daughters grow up to be like her. She rinses, then dazzles me with a smile as she laughs. She wishes my daughters well and I am off to find Dan, and a ride to Miami.
To be continued... Any idea what part of Florida we were flying over?