Thursday, September 4, 2014

Colombia, Part I

“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 Everglades?
In 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.
Dan 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? 

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